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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Nancy J. Miller-Ihli, PhD
Body Composition Key To Good Health
Savvy Selections
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Body Composition Key To Good Health

Over 100 million Americans are overweight or obese. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has defined obesity as being the #1 health epidemic in the US. Twenty-six percent of military are obese and it is the number one reason for discharge from the military. Obesity puts an individual at higher risk for disease than does smoking. There are 300,000 deaths per year due to unhealthy dietary habits and inactivity.
Obesity costs overwhelm the US healthcare industry, costing over $63 billion dollars each year. What diseases are most frequently associated with obesity? Cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Its no wonder that cardiovascular disease is the #1 leading cause of death for both men and women in the US.
There are many reasons for the ever-increasing obesity epidemic. First, weve changed our eating and exercise habits dramatically over the past 20 years. We eat fewer fruits and vegetables, more food higher in fat and sugar, and we eat much less fiber. We consume highly processed foods and far too much white bread. We also “super-size” our servings, consuming more food than necessary.
Perpetual dieting is also a serious problem because people who have followed severe calorie restricted diets can actually damage their metabolism, decreasing its efficiency by as much as 15%. When these individuals return to eating “normal foods” and increase their caloric intake, they routinely gain weight and increase their amount of body fat. This is due in large part to the fact that severe calorie restriction can lead to muscle loss rather than fat loss.
Too many people focus on weight or BMI (ratio of height to weight) neither of which address body composition. Since muscle dictates metabolism, muscle loss should be avoided at all costs.
Would you like to take up less space? Fit better in a movie theater seat or be able to relax on an airplane? Then consider focusing on body composition rather than weight alone. Using an advanced scale (e.g. Tanita Innerscan) or handheld body fat analyzer (e.g. Omron BF-306) you can measure your % body fat. If you weigh 200 lbs and you have 40% body fat that means you are carrying around 80 lbs of metabolically inactive fat. Its not attractive and it doesnt burn calories so you want to get your percent body fat into a healthy range (25% is a good target).
How would you do this? The answer is a lifestyle change incorporating low glycemic impact (GI) foods, stress reduction techniques, appropriate nutritional supplements, and exercise. Low GI foods avoid a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels avoiding a metabolic switch being thrown signaling the body to store fat. Low GI foods help you to burn calories more efficiently. These foods include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and protein and represent a healthy way of eating which will lead to improved body composition. This way of eating helps you feel full faster and longer. Adding a combination of aerobic and weight training exercises allows you to reach your goal more quickly and ensures continued health for the future. Forget diets and make a lifestyle change what have you got to lose but excess body fat?

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