Women aged 20-39 should aim for 21-32% body fat, while men in the same age range should aim for 8-19%. For those aged 40-59, the recommended range for women is 23-33% and for men, it’s 11-21%. For those aged 60-79, women should aim for 24-35% body fat, and men should aim for 13-24%.
Check your BMI using our Body Mass Index Calculator
Why is too much body fat bad?
Excess body fat can negatively impact your overall health. High fat levels prevent your body from responding to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. As a result, this can lead to serious health issues, such as heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, as well as depression.
What are the benefits of high body fat levels?
Fat plays an important role in providing energy for the body, protecting internal organs, supporting cell growth, regulating cholesterol and blood pressure, and facilitating the absorption of essential nutrients. By excessively cutting out all fat from your diet, the body can become deprived of these important functions.
Why is low body fat bad?
Having too little body fat can result in deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins, which can only be absorbed by the body with the presence of fat. Additionally, it can increase the risk of various diseases such as heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, nervous system damage, shrinkage of organs, and a weakened immune system.
What are the benefits of lowering body fat percentage?
Lowering your body fat not only improves your physical well-being but also positively affects your mental health and mood. Studies have found that after a substantial weight loss, individuals often report feeling less tense, depressed, angry, and fatigued within a few months. Additionally, it also reduces many health risks.
Easy ways to lower body fat
There are several easy ways to lower body fat, some include:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains; and low in processed foods and added sugars.
- Adding regular exercise, such as cardio and strength training, into your routine.
- Practicing stress management techniques, such as meditation or yoga, helps control cortisol levels.
- Getting enough sleep, aiming for 7-9 hours per night.
- Drinking enough water, aim for 8 glasses per day.
- Avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks, which are high in calories and contribute to weight gain.
- Avoiding overeating, eating until you’re satisfied, not full.
- Keeping a food diary can identify patterns and triggers that lead to overeating.
How does sleep help you lose weight?
Sleep plays an important role in weight management. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and makes you feel hungrier.
At the same time, it also reduces the production of the hormone leptin, which suppresses appetite and makes you feel full. This can lead to overeating, which can cause weight gain.
Additionally, lack of sleep can also impact your metabolism, making it harder to burn calories and lose weight.
When you’re sleep-deprived, your body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone that can also lead to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area.
How does working shift work make it harder to lose weight?
Shift work can make it more difficult for people to lose weight for several reasons.
Disruption of circadian rhythms: Shift work disrupts the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. This can lead to insomnia, fatigue, and other sleep disorders, which can make it harder for people to stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Changes in appetite hormones: Shift work can also affect the hormones that regulate appetite. Studies have shown that shift workers tend to have higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, and lower levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite. This can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Lack of time and energy: Shift workers may have less time and energy to prepare healthy meals or exercise during their non-working hours, which can make it harder to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Stress and anxiety: Shift work can also lead to increased stress and anxiety, which can cause weight gain. Stress and anxiety can lead to overeating and also disrupt the hormones that regulate appetite.
Limited access to healthy foods: Shift workers often have limited access to healthy food options, such as supermarkets, and often end up eating high-calorie, low-nutrient foods from vending machines or fast-food restaurants.
What is cortisol and why is it important?
Cortisol is a hormone produced in the body that is commonly referred to as the “stress hormone.” When an individual experiences stress, the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain secretes a hormone called Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
ACTH then triggers the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys. This increased release of cortisol initiates the “fight or flight” response in the body. Additionally, it raises blood sugar and blood pressure, causes weight gain, and can impact mood.
Do cortisol blockers work?
Yes. Cortisol blockers are commonly used in the treatment of conditions characterized by high cortisol levels, such as Cushing’s syndrome. They are also being marketed as dietary supplements that claim to help reduce your appetite and promote weight loss and muscle growth. It’s important to note that their effectiveness in these areas is not well-established by scientific research and that they should only be used under medical supervision.
How to get tested for high cortisol levels
A cortisol test typically involves taking a sample of blood at a lab, but it can also be done using urine or saliva samples collected at home. As cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day, healthcare providers may require more than one type of test to gain a complete understanding of an individual’s cortisol levels.
Claudia Faucher is a full-time fitness training expert and lifestyle blogger. She is also been a certified Les Mills BodyPump instructor for the past 5 years and a fitness instructor for over 20 years. Claudia is a personal trainer and creates fitness training programs for seniors and people of all ages. She likes to use her skills and experiences to help others on their fitness journeys.