What is the difference between being fat and being overweight? What are some common misconceptions about obesity?
Being obese means having excess body fat. Being overweight means your BMI (Body Mass Index) is 25 or higher. Both terms mean you have too much body fat. A person with a high BMI but not obese would have a lower percentage of their body mass made up of muscle than someone with a low BMI but still obese.
Obesity is associated with several health problems including diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and other diseases. Obesity increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers such as colon and rectal cancer. People who are obese tend to die earlier than those who aren’t obese.
The term “obese” itself doesn’t necessarily mean you have a high BMI; it could just refer to how many pounds you weigh compared to your height. For example, if you’re 5 feet 6 inches tall and weigh 200 pounds, then you’d fall into the category of being obese. If you were 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 150 pounds, then you wouldn’t be considered obese because your BMI would indicate that you don’t have excessive amounts of body fat.
A person’s weight is measured in kilograms (kg). A kg is equal to 2.2 lbs.
If you weigh more than you should, then you may need to lose weight. In order to find out if you need to lose weight or how much you should weigh, you can do some simple math. First determine your height in feet and inches. Then multiply this number by itself (i.e., convert it to decimal format). Now take this number and multiply it by itself again. This final number is the number of pounds you should weigh. For example, if you are 5 feet 6 inches tall and multiply this by itself, you get 84.5 (i.e., 5 x 5). Then multiply this new number by itself to get 3,744 (i.e., 84.5 x 84.5). This final number tells you how many pounds you should weigh assuming your height is average for women your age.
The average weight for women your height is between 100 lbs and 160 lbs. If you divide this by 100, you can determine the percentage of body fat you have. For example, if you weigh 144 lbs, then you have about 36% body fat.
If you weigh 176 lbs, then you have about 26% body fat.
Obesity is considered to be having a BMI greater than 30 and extreme obesity is considered to be having a BMI greater than 40. Although BMI is not a perfect measurement (as a muscular person can be considered obese and a person with a large skeleton can be considered overweight), it’s the best indicator we have to go by.
Common weight loss myths:
1) A calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from (i.
e., organic, vegetables, meat, etc.).
2) Eating late at night causes you to gain weight.
3) If some calories are off limits (i.
e. fat, carbs, etc.), then you can eat as much of the others as you want.
4) Drinking lots of water causes you to gain weight since it contains calories.
5) Muscle weighs more than fat.
6) Eating breakfast causes you to weigh less.
The human body needs calories in order to survive, but how many is still up for debate. Some people believe that calorie restriction helps promote a longer life span while other people think that the body just goes into starvation mode and stores the excess as fat (which leads to health issues of its own).
Your body doesn’t know if the calories you’re feeding it come from fats, carbs or proteins. It only knows that it has additional energy (in the form of calories) than it needs to maintain its current weight.
One of the big problems with this is that people assume they can eat as much as they want from whatever group and not gain weight. So, they overeat carbs during the day and then come home and eat all the fat and protein they want (and then some) since these are “off limits.” This type of behavior actually causes more weight gain than it prevents.
It’s perfectly healthy to eat whatever you want as long as you keep your total calories in check. One way to do this is by counting them, but a simpler way is to pay attention to portion sizes. If you cut your calories down to where you’re burning about 2000 calories more than you consume on a daily basis, then you will lose weight (provided that you get a minimum of essential nutrients).
Calories come from proteins, carbs and fats. They provide the body with energy to do everything from maintaining bodily functions to moving around. Since they all do the same general thing, the human body can’t really tell them apart.
In fact, it has no need to since they all serve the same purpose. There are 4 calories in a gram of fat, carbs contain 4 calories per gram as well, while proteins contain about 4 calories per gram. Despite what some people claim, there is no evidence that supports the idea that carbs are bad for you or that fat makes you fat.
Most of your calories should come from nutrient-dense foods. These are foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, etc. While it’s generally accepted that you can lose weight if you eat 1200, 1500 or 1800 calories a day, most people can do better by eating more and including more nutrient-dense foods in their diet plan.
Even if you’re trying to gain weight, you should still focus on nutrient-dense foods since most “weight gainers” are loaded with refined sugars and carbs that will cause you to fat and sick in the long run.
Your body can only store a limited amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream and liver. This amount varies from person to person, but it is generally around 800 calories (although this number is influenced by many different factors). When this “glucose quota” is full, any additional glucose that is ingested gets stored as fat.
By eating something with a low Gi before you eat your carbs, you help the glucose get absorbed by the body quicker thus freeing up space in the quota since some of that glucose gets burned up instead of being stored as fat. Some people only claim to lose 5 pounds in 5 days, but the truth is most people lost 7 pounds in that time span. The other two “lost” pounds are actually water weight from glycogen depletion (they were never really “stored” pounds to begin with).
Most people don’t lose fat in a linear fashion (as in, not all the weight lost is fat). Your body will burn glycogen and then it will start burning muscle tissue as well. By lifting weights and focusing on endurance activities, you keep your muscles from turning into fat since they’ve already been “burned”.
Most people think of exercise as a way to just “burn off” calories. While this is true to a point, the “health benefits” of exercise are much more important. For example, you can walk for an hour and burn off around 400 calories.
However, if you walk for an hour, your body will be healthier and less susceptible to disease. Not only that, but walking for an hour at a fast pace will probably only burn around 300-350 calories since you’re burning more calories than normal due to the increased heart rate.
In other words, exercise will make you healthier and less likely to get diseases that can kill you. This statement is more important than the actual number of calories burned.
When people think of weight loss, they think of it in a linear fashion: I have 2000 calories extra per day, so if I subtract 1500 of those calories through exercise and 500 through diet, I’ll lose 1 pound per week.
This is only true to a point. It is entirely possible (and likely) that you’re body will fight against you when you start subtracting significant amounts of calories. There is only so much that muscle tissue can be depleted before your body starts eating away at your organs and then, well, death soon follows.
If you lose weight too fast, your body will think it’s being starved and it will fight back by trying to conserve energy and thus slowing down your metabolism.
This doesn’t even take into account the fact that most “DIET” foods are horribly processed and are barely any better for you than eating actual junk food. Not only that, but they typically cost more per serving.
In other words, it’s not just about what you eat, it’s also about what you DON’T eat.
You should try to make sure you lose no more than 1-2 pounds of fat per week.
Sources & references used in this article:
Competition in physical education: an educational contradiction? by L Brown, S Grineski – Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & …, 1992 – Taylor & Francis
Promoting healthy lifestyles in children: a pilot program of Be a Fit Kid by J Slawta, J Bentley, J Smith, J Kelly… – Health Promotion …, 2008 – journals.sagepub.com
Exposure and erasure: Fat kids in gym class, fat adults as athletes by K Dark – Fat Studies, 2019 – Taylor & Francis
Unbearable lessons: Contesting fat phobia in physical education by H Sykes, D McPhail – Sociology of Sport Journal, 2008 – journals.humankinetics.com
Healthy, happy and ready to teach, or why kids can’t learn from fat teachers: the discursive politics of school reform and teacher health by CV Schee, M Gard – Critical Public Health, 2014 – Taylor & Francis