Simple Habits For Lasting Body Composition Changes

In a world where obesity rates in some countries exceed 40%, it is not surprising that the industry of weight loss has grown into a $68 billion market. However, Western people’s obsession with weight loss makes them lose sight of a key fact: it is not the weight itself that matters most, but your body composition. In fact, weight-based measures, such as BMI (Body Mass Index) can often give misleading results: for example, a bodybuilder can be judged as overweight on the basis of his BMI. Body composition is a much more accurate measure of your fitness, and your goal should be not to lose pounds but rather to achieve a lower weight to total mass ratio.

Body Composition

We have spoken to fitness and weight loss consultants at the Online Canadian Pharmacy  to find out how one can achieve a desired change in overall body composition that will last. As it turns out, you should not starve yourself or get up on a scale each morning. Rather, there are several simple habits that will allow you to measure, control, and improve your body composition.

1) Don’t get obsessed with your weight

For the purposes of the body composition concept, we can divide your total body mass into the fat mass and the fat-free mass (your muscle, bone, internal organs, liquid, and skin). Muscle usually constitutes circa 30-40% of your mass,  bones 15%, and even your skin weighs circa 3 kg (6 pounds)! All your tissues and organs have different densities, so a  change in body composition should not necessarily mean a reduction in weight. For instance, an intense training regimen can make you grow lots of dense muscle and burn an equal volume of fat, which is much less dense, resulting in a net weight gain!

Instead of measuring your weight on a scale all the time, measure the circumference of your waist and hips every week. Do it on an empty stomach and always in the same spot with a simple tape measure. Another good option is to take pictures of yourself (in the same light and time of day) every two weeks.

What about body composition measuring devices? Many people rely of home devices that are supposed to measure your fat ratio using BIA (bioelectric impedance analysis) – they send a weak electric current through the body, to which different tissues have different resistance. However, as explained by the senior customer support specialist of Patient Care Pharmacy Maisie Maneet, these devices are overrated:

“Electric current coming from a BIA device does not cross your whole body in a straight line – it skips whole large areas and avoids more resistant tissues, such as fat, preferring those with lots of water, such as muscle. This way, your fat mass is underestimated by 10% or more”.

2) Exercise frequently

In order to achieve lasting body composition changes, you need to exercise an hour a day at least five days a week. Essentially, to burn fat, lose weight, and build up muscle you have to use up more calories that you get with food. Most people do not realize how much time it actually takes to burn the calories from food: for example, just one slice of bread with cheese is equivalent to an hour of brisk walking. That is why you have to exercise a lot; a couple of hours a week just won’t do it. A proper training regimen aimed at changing body composition has to include both cardio (such as dancing or aerobics) and strength training. You don’t have to lift weights, though, or run marathons: in fact, the most efficient fitness routine is one that combines intense, moderate, and lighter exercise. For example, indoor rock climbing and dancing are a great combo, as well as playing rugby and yoga.

If you are obese, you need the same five hours of exercise a week, but you will have to start with simple walking, gradually increasing the speed; make sure to incorporate walking up and down the stairs instead of taking an elevator, as well as swimming – you will feel much lighter in the water.

3) Eat correctly

Trying to reduce your daily amount of calories can be counterproductive: your body will consume most of its muscle before consuming fat. Don’t trust diets that demand that you eat less than 1500 calories a day or those that suggest to cut out carbs or fats completely. Maisie Maneet continues:

“We need both protein, fat, and carbs, all three are essential. In fact, eating fat doesn’t make you fat by itself; a healthy amount of fat is necessary to make the walls of your cells and blood vessels, as well as the protective cover of your neurons, making fat extremely important for your brain.”

If you want to change your body composition and keep your fat ratio low, try to get 50% of your daily calories from carbs, 30% from proteins, and 20% from good fats, such as olive oil or fish. Eating enough protein is key: it should be lean meat, curd, fish, and seafood.

Make sure to eat enough fiber, too; according to statistics, up to 95% of people eat too little fiber. While it is not absorbed by our bodies, it stimulates the metabolism and prevents the accumulation of fat. An adult man needs circa 40 grams of fiber a day, while a woman needs 25 grams. Vegetables are the best source of fiber.

Yet another trick for a long-term body composition change is drinking enough water: studies show that two cups of water drunk before a meal increase the metabolic rate by 30%! Besides, if you are dehydrated, your liver has to take over some of your kidneys’ functions and neglect its own main function, which is to metabolize fat. Dehydration is one of the main enemies of weight loss and muscle gain!

Even if you follow all the tips kindly provided by the specialists from Patient Care Pharmacy, you should keep in mind that changing your body composition significantly can take many months and even more than a year. It is essential that you stick to your chosen action plan and keep working even if you cannot see quick results. Remember: simple weight loss is short-lived, but your hard and persistent work on your body composition will bring results that will last forever.

More related articles:

  1. The 15 Best Habits for Maintaining a Strong, Shredded Body
  2. 8 Fat Releasing Habits to Help You Slim Down
  3. How to Improve Body Composition, Based on Science