Your body needs body fat. Yet carrying around too much of it can increase your risk of chronic disease and affect your overall health and longevity. This article aims to provide some clarity around body fat, the benefits of “good” fat and the disadvantages of “bad” fat.

What’s a Healthy Body Fat Percentage?

Healthy body fat percentages differ for men and women. Generally, women are prone to carry more fat largely due to reproduction, so understandably the ideal fat percentages for men are lower.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends no more than 31% body fat for women and no more than 24% for men. Beth Israel Lahey Health Winchester Hospital recommends different percentages of fat depending on a person’s age. (Click through these links for more information and exact percentages.)

Good Fat vs Bad Fat

White fat includes subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, and bone marrow fat. This type of fat offers protection for your vital organs. Yet, too much of it, specifically around the abdominal area, can lead to chronic and life-threatening diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Meanwhile, brown fat is found in small reserves, typically around the shoulder and neck areas. Brown fat is thought to play a role in metabolic health. Under the right circumstances, it can produce heat to help maintain the body’s temperature because it contains mitochondria (the powerhouse of the body’s cells), whereas white fat does not.

At the end of the day, brown fat is preferable over white fat—and you want to maintain a healthy amount of body fat, without excess.

The Dangers of too Much Fat

Unfortunately, health challenges occur when there is too much fat on the body. For every extra pound of fat, your body requires a mile of capillaries. This means that your heart and respiratory system have to work that much harder, increasing your risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

On top of this, more fat increases the total weight of the body, which can lead to stress on the joints, bones, and muscles, and may, over time, result in osteoarthritis, joint pain, back pain, and other injuries.

Research further indicates a significant correlation between high amounts of fat and type 2 and type 3 diabetes. Excess fat (beyond a healthy amount) also increases your risk of cancer, which can greatly decrease your health and overall quality of life.

The bottom line? You need fat, but just not too much!

If you’re struggling to do this, don’t worry; we can help! At Nielsen Fitness, our team will guide you toward realistic time-based and progress-centered fitness and nutritional goals, helping you get into great shape and achieve a healthy level of body fat. Whether you prefer home training or require a virtual personal trainer, contact us today and we can help you get started.

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