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How to Lose Body Fat
- isn’t that what we all want to know?

Do any of these apply to you?

If you said ‘yes’, well done for being honest! Now you probably want to know how to lose that body fat and have loose clothes again.

Help - I didn’t start out fat, so what happened?

Most of us weren’t born fat, so how come so many of us are now fatter than we should be? The unpalatable truth is that we like the seefood diet too much - and I don’t mean fish and shellfish, I mean ‘see food and eat it’!

In Britain and America more than half of the population is overweight or obese, which may be great for food retailers and the makers of outsize clothing but isn’t so good for our health. Lots of studies have shown evidence that being too fat can increase our risk of suffering from coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, gallstones and various other unpleasant medical conditions.

AND being too fat can actually shorten our lives. Now that is scary.

If you’re a fan of Oprah Winfrey you probably remember her show a few years ago, when she had lost a lot of weight and came onto the stage dragging a trolley piled high with pats of white fat to show just how much fat she’d shed. Later, she even used it in the show title. It’s certainly a motivating image: we’d all rather imagine our fat sitting in a trolley instead of being squeezed under our skin, turning us into overstuffed sausages.

OK, so I go on a diet, right?

No, diets don’t work! Think about it - do you know anyone who has ‘gone on a diet’ and kept the weight off PERMANENTLY without resorting to yet another diet? No, neither do I. Banning certain foods simply doesn't work.

What does work is to change the way we think about food. For a start, food is not the enemy but neither is it a reward - we’re not pets, we don’t need food bribes to make us do things. We do things because we want to, which is why lots of us overeat, as we’ve realised how nice eating is - so we keep on doing it even when we’re full.

If we could all eat a variety of foods - and not too much of any one - then stop just before we were full up, there would be no need for books about how to lose body fat.

Unfortunately, human beings are greedy by nature. If there’s plenty of food available, we’ll eat it.

So, curbing our eat-now-in-case-of-famine-later instincts, we try to change our ways. We eat a bit less and do a bit more exercise, and gradually the number on the bathroom scales starts to drop down. We’re elated at the thought of all that fat just disappearing, but does it?

When we start to lose weight, how do we know whether we’re losing fat or just water or - even worse - muscle?

So how do I measure my body fat?

Fortunately, there are several techniques to help us. I’ve summarised them below.

Body mass index (BMI)

The most widely used measure of whether we need to lose weight is of course BMI, although it won’t tell us directly how much fat we have. It is more of a guide, which prods us in the direction of doing something about our weight. BMI relates your weight with your height, and if you are a healthy weight your BMI should be between 20 and 25. There are lots more details about BMI in my new eBook Eat Lean, not Mean.

Waist to hip ratio (WHR)

The WHR compares the fat we carry around our middles with the fat we have hanging on our hips. The good news is that it’s better - healthwise at least - to have big hips rather than a thick waist. All of us with pear shapes rejoice... However, there are health risks associated with a high WHR; women should aim for a WHR of 0.8 or less and men a WHR of 0.95 or less. There are more details about WHR in my eBook Eat Lean, not Mean.

Measuring body parts

Sounds like more fun, doesn’t it? There are two ways that we can measure our body fat in a hands-on method, either with a cloth tape measure or with a pair of callipers. Basically, you measure the circumference (tape) or skinflap (callipers) of different body parts - steady! - and put all these figures, with your age, weighht and gender, into a magic formula that calculates body fat percentage. The methods are described in several books and are available on various websites, where you enter the appropriate numbers and the answer pops out. Generally, the tape technique is not as accurate as the calliper technique.

Bioelectrical impedance

This measures the time taken for a very weak electric current to pass harmlessly through your body. Fat and muscle have different characteristics, muscle is denser, so it will take longer for the current to pass through it. Comparing this with your gender, height and weight gives an estimate of body fat percentage. This can all be done by a machine, either a hand-held device or one a bit like scales. You can also find these monitors at some gyms.

Hydrodensitometry or hydrostatic weighing tanks

This is the most accurate way to measure your body fat, and the one used by professional athletes. Your body’s density is based upon the amount of water displaced (Archimedes’ principle), and a formula converts that into a percentage of fat in your body. Unfortunately you can’t do it at home, as you need to find somewhere that has the water tank. Unless you intend joining the Olympic team, this one is probably not practical - and not for the fainthearted.

Infrared interactance

This technique, which involves shining coloured lights onto the skin surface and analysing the wavelengths of the reflected light with a computer, is unlikely to give an accurate result. And again you can’t do it at home.

So how much body fat is OK?

After all that measuring, you need to know just how much is fine and how much is too much. As with lots of things in life, there’s no single simple answer. Women need more body fat than men, older people have more than younger ones, and athletes have less than the rest of us. Even our ethnicity affects how much fat is healthy - for example, because their bones are more dense, African-Americans need a lower body fat percentage than Caucasians, and Asians should have a higher body fat percentage because their bones are lighter and more porous.

As a rough guide, healthy women have 19-25% body fat and healthy men 12-18% body fat. In general, women are overweight if they have more than 32% body fat and obese at more than 40%. Men are overweight if they have more than 25% body fat and obese at more than 28%.

For all methods of measuring body fat, don’t do it too often as you’ll just be picking up natural fluctuations. About once or twice a month measure yourself, keep a note of your percentages, and then compare readings. This should give you a good estimate of how much body fat you are losing.

If you are worried in any way about how your weight is affecting your health, please seek further advice from your doctor.

And just a thought - it is possible to be too thin - to survive women need 10-12% body fat and men need 2-4%. So don’t get carried away and go too far...

The percentage of fat you have doesn’t depend upon how many fat cells you have, but how much fat is in each one. In other words, whether your fat cells are full or empty. The only way to remove fat cells from the body is through surgery (please don’t).

Now tell me the best ways to lose body fat

Encouraging our fat cells to release their stores isn’t easy! Fat cells would rather hoard their fat than convert into energy. The trouble is, fat cells are lazy; they will grab onto any fat floating around your bloodstream and gobble it up because they like being full. They can convert protein and carbohydrate into fat for storage but it takes more effort.

If you have 100 kcal of excess glucose (carbohydrate) in your blood, your body uses 23 kcal in energy converting it to fat and storing it, but if you have 100 kcal of excess fat in your blood, your body uses only 2.5 kcal storing it.

The best ways to reduce the size of those fat cells are to eat a balanced diet, not to overeat and to do some kind of regular exercise. Let me tell you why these three ways are so effective.

Eating a balanced diet

No, I don’t mean a diet as in some kind of restrictive regime.

Perhaps I should say, a balanced intake of a variety of foods that give you a good mix of nutrients and sensible amounts of proteins, carbs and fats. Eat Lean, not Mean is packed with information about eating sensibly and how to make changes to your eating patterns that will really work.

Aim to try new foods - especially different fruits and vegetables - to vary your eating pattern without loading up with calories. Most people don’t eat enough fibre and this is an easy way to boost yours, but drink plenty of water as well to avoid indigestion.

If you reduce your calorie intake by 500-1000 kcal per day, you should see a gradual (but cumulative) weight loss of around 1-2 pounds a week. That may not sound much, but between the Christmas holidays and the summer holidays you could lose 26-52 pounds - wow!

Don’t be tempted to lose weight more rapidly - yes, the number on the scales will go down - but you will only be losing extra water and muscle not fat.

Did you know...

Not overeating

Did you know that a typical overweight adult has around 75 billion fat cells? And people with severe obesity could have as many as 250-300 billion fat cells. Although the creation of fat cells normally stops after puberty, if someone persists in excessive overeating fat cells can split into two to provide extra storage capacity!

You know the old saying ‘all things in moderation’? Well, a little of what you fancy won’t hurt...

There is nothing wrong with enjoying our food, it’s the quantity we like to enjoy that makes the difference. There are lots of tips about how to eat fewer calories without noticing that you are eating less in Eat Lean, not Mean, so check them out.

Taking up regular exercise

Did you know that exercise can reduce your chances of dying prematurely?

Taking up regular exercise could, quite literally, save your life.

And exercise makes you feel good because your brain releases chemicals called endorphins, which are anti-stress hormones that work in a similar way to opiates; only they are legal! Your body makes these morphine-like substances to relieve fever or pain and to generate a sense of well-being. Yes, your body can get you high - so maybe you should try this at home!

Another thing to help with fat loss is the fact that as you exercise more, your body builds muscle rather than storing fat. And muscle uses much more energy than fat, just to exist.

Aim for 30 minutes of exercise that leaves you slightly out of breath, at least five times per week. That’s on top of your normal life by the way - things like housework, sitting at a computer, driving, and walking the dog don’t really count if you do them anyway!

For loads more ideas about getting fit and feeling great while you do so, have a look at a new eBook called Get Fit, Feel GREAT! - just click onto the How to get fit at the top of this page for more details.

And now that you’re keen to lose body fat, check out all the great ideas and tips in Eat Lean, not Mean.

Click here to buy your copy of Eat Lean, not Mean now! It costs just $10.99 - or only £7.49. That’s a lot less than any scales or callipers! You can pay using PayPal, so you know your details are secure. Read some of the articles by Eleanor Knowles at

Buy the Eat Lean, Not Mean eBook now!
Superfoods, super recipes FREE bonus eBook And just to tempt you a bit more, I have a gift for you as well. For a limited period only, you can get Superfoods, Super Recipes absolutely free, when you order. Superfoods, Super Recipes is a 34-page ebooklet packed with healthy delicious recipes and serving suggestions for foods from the top five superfood groups.

And if you are not delighted with your new purchase, you can get a full refund - no hassle, no questions - within 60 days by emailing us.

Enjoy your food, exercise and discover a lower-fat new you...

Eleanor Knowles

PS Just a thought - do you hate eBooks? The internet is a great way of finding out what you want to know very quickly. But some people (me too!) would rather have a book in proper book form. If this is you, please click here so that I can let you know when the ‘physical’ form of Eat Lean, Not Mean will be available.

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