Body Fat Percent - How to determine your body fat and then lower it.
As we age, we not only gain weight but, more importantly, our percent of body fat rises dramatically. Those of us over 40 look enviously at skinny teenagers on junk food diets. It seems no matter what they do, most teens can't get fat. No matter what we older people do, we keep getting fatter. A body builder can be six feet tall, weigh 220 pounds and temporarily have 10% body fat. The problem here is this is done only prior to contests with overtraining and an extreme, un-healthy high protein, no fiber, no carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. Body builders temporarily use these ketogenic diets just prior to competitions. Another man can be six feet tall and weigh only 180 pounds, yet have 30% or more body fat. Therefore, body mass index (BMI) of height to weight ratio is not very meaningful. BMI, per se, has little meaning. Body fat percent has real meaning. This is the real measurement. How do you test your body fat per cent?
Do yourself a big favor, and go out and buy an electronic body fat scale for under $30. Beautiful, all glass, advanced brands can be found at retail stores or on the Internet. The results compare very favorably and consistently with far more expensive equipment. You might find a clinic to dunk you in a tank of water (the ideal way) and weigh you, but that is costly, impractical, and just isn't necessary. Your body fat will be about 2% higher when you wake up than when you go to bed, due to hydration during the day. You can expect a reading of about 2% less in the evening before bed than in the morning. Go by the evening figure and you’ll feel better.
A recent study done by six different clinics and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (v. 85, 2000) studied men aged 17 to 64. These results would basically apply to women as well. Their body fat measured, as well as seven of their basic hormones. The male teenagers had 14% body fat, but this doubled to an average of 28% in men over 50! The researchers found that generally low testosterone, low DHEA, and high insulin levels were very correlated with this. Both testosterone and DHEA fell about 50% by the age of 50, while insulin went up about 50%. Low androgens (testosterone and DHEA) and high insulin levels were important here. Insulin is key here. High insulin indicates insulin resistance, which is a precursor to actual diabetes. You can measure your fasting insulin level cheaply at online clinics such as www.healthlabs.com. Insulin resistance means the cells no longer respond well to the insulin you make. Please read my book The Natural Diabetes Cure to learn more. Insulin resistance is central to understanding obesity and high body fat. Only diet and lifestyle will cure insulin resistance. Stay away from all sugars and sweets including honey and fruit juice. Avoid caffeine. Just one cup of coffee or one energy drink daily will completely wreck your insulin levels. Read the two caffeine articles under C. Eat whole grain based macrobiotic diet and exercise. Read the Seven Steps article.
Another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (v. 78, 2003) showed American men and women dramatically gain body fat from age 20 to 60. After the age of 60 body fat per cent then falls (due to failing health) for the rest of their lives. This is a false drop, since it is due to poor health, and old people literally shrivel up. Men averaged about 23% throughout life, while women averaged about 35%. Women have about 50% higher levels by nature. Women can have excessive, as well as deficient. levels of both testosterone and DHEA. It is even more important for them to test their levels of these two hormones. Men cannot have excessive testosterone levels by nature. Our body fat content is simply too high in America. We lead the world in obesity. America is the fattest country in the world by far. People in poor Third World agrarian countries have much lower body fat due to low fat, low sugar diets, and the hard work they do just to survive.
You can inexpensively test both your free (not total or bound) levels of testosterone and DHEA at home with saliva test kits for $70. Make sure your fasting blood sugar is 85 or less. If not, see a doctor and get an inexpensive one draw GTT (glucose tolerance test). You go in fasting, drink a measured cup of glucose, wait an hour, and test your blood sugar. This shows how your insulin reacted to the glucose load. Look for a post-test level of ten points less than the accepted medical standard. This shows insulin effectiveness. Do this in addition to your insulin blood levels.
Your thyroid is really important here. Test your FREE T3 and FREE T4 (not your TSH or T3 uptake). By 2019 saliva hormone kits should again be available to do this at home. Go to www.healthlabs.com to test your free T3 and T4 without a doctor for only $85. Make sure you have YOUTHFUL levels and not merely "normal" range. You want midrange here. Anything significantly less than midrange is “subclinical hypothyroidism”. Add high and low range and divide by 2. This midrange level is where you want to be. You can get T3 and T4 legally without a prescription (read You Don’t Need a Prescription) from Mexican online pharmacies. Low thyroid is an epidemic in America. Read the Thyroid article under T.
High estradiol and estrone will cause weight gain, as well as high disease states, in both men and women. Here you want low normal and not merely normal levels. Why? Because rural Asian women and vegetarians have lower levels and are healthier. Women want high normal estriol levels and not merely normal levels. Men do not have to test estriol. Read Better Estrogen Levels.
How does one lose weight with natural hormones? Balance all of them as much as possible. Read the How to Balance Your Hormones article. Read the two hormone chapters in Zen Macrobiotics for Everyone.
Hormones and supplements are only one part of the picture. No diet aids work, so don't waste your money. MAKING BETTER FOOD CHOICES IS THE WAY TO STAY SLIM. Fat makes you fat, not food. The "low carb" and "glycemic index" insanity of high fat, high protein, low fiber diets will kill you. You can eat all you want, lose weight, and never be hungry if you eat whole natural foods. Whole grains, beans, green and yellow vegetables, fruit, soups, salads, and seafoods should be your basic foods. Please read my book Zen Macrobiotics for Everyone. Also, Neal Barnard, Terry Shintani, Gary Null, Susan Powter, Michio Kushi, and Robert Pritikin have written good books. Our hunger instinct is literally much stronger than our sexual desire, so you are never going to be able to go hungry. Make better food choices, exercise, and balance your hormones as much as possible to stay slim all your life. Body fat per cent is a foolproof measure.