Too much body fat can lead to obesity and its associated health risks, including heart diseases, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and other problems, according to the American Heart Association. If you weigh 20 percent more than you should, measured in relation to your height, you’re considered obese, according to Medical News Today. A Body Mass Index, or BMI, between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. Although BMI isn’t a measure of body fat, it’s often a useful indicator for “average” fitness. Reducing body fat can help you improve overall health.
Fat in Your Body
Your body is composed of water, fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, according to the American Heart Association. Too much body fat, especially around your waist, makes it difficult for your systems to operate efficiently. It’s hard on your circulatory system, can cause gallstones and potentially worsen degenerative joint disease. Obesity can also result in a host of other problems, including sleep apnea, infertility, arthritis and early death, according to Harvard University.
Nutrition and Body Fat
When you consume more calories than your body needs in a day, it converts those extra calories into fat that is stored around your body, creating a heftier weight. Consuming the right amount of calories each day will help you maintain current weight levels. If you’re trying to drop body fat, you’ll need to consume fewer calories than your body requires each day in order to shed excess stores, according to Harvard University. Eating food labeled “low-fat” isn’t necessarily going to help you shed weight. Opt for smart portions of full-fat foods and you’ll probably feel more satisfied. Cut back on sugar and sweets, eat more produce, limit your fast-food consumption, and build nutritious meals from protein, whole grains, and healthy fats.
Exercise and Body Fat
People mistakenly think that exercise converts body fat into muscles, but this isn’t true. When you exercise, you’re burning calories and shrinking the size of existing fat cells within your body, according to Columbia University. Meanwhile, muscle cells get bigger as you work out. Your body will accumulate more lean body mass while reducing fat overall. Opt for a blend of aerobic exercise, which helps zap calories, and anaerobic exercise, which helps you create a leaner, more muscular physique. Aerobic exercise might include running, walking or swimming. Anaerobic exercises include weightlifting and short, high-powered activity bursts such as sprinting, according to Science Daily.
Stress, Sleep and Fat
Although nutrition and exercise can both help eliminate extra body fat, getting enough sleep also plays an important role, according to Harvard University. People who don’t get enough sleep tend to weigh more than those who do get adequate sleeping hours. Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol, which has been linked with obesity, according to the University of New Mexico. Try reducing stress with meditation, yoga or time with loved ones as another way to tackle your body’s excess fat reserves.
Circuit and Interval Training Workouts
Circuits and intervals combine aerobic and anaerobic exercise, according to the University of New Mexico. Completing a circuit training program might include three to five workouts per week for six to eight weeks. In an interval training workout, you might do chest presses and leg presses, then complete three minutes of aerobics. This would be followed by row pulls and lunges, then another three minutes of aerobics. Next, you can perform shoulder press and lateral pulls, followed by three minutes of aerobics. Then, complete biceps curls and triceps extensions and accompanying aerobics. Finish with heel raises and a seated abdominal machine, and your final three minutes of aerobics.