The basic misconception about food is that we crave for the food which our body needs. We very often hear ‘Let him eat it (whatever food is likes most).If he likes it so much, may be he needs it more.’
Human beings are considered to be the most advanced when their intelligence is compared to that of animals,but as far as food selection is concerned,man does not retain this position.Choice of foods
relating to the body’s requirement is more accurate in case of animals.The food-choice of human beings is influenced by his social life and cultural background as well as his learning.Learning profoundly influences our food selection.It is interesting to note that infants show a natural ability to select foods needed by their body,This ability is lost as the child grows up.
BMI or Body Mass Index, is another method of estimating a person’s body fat percentage based upon simple weight and height measurements. While the BMI calculation is an indirect measurement, it has been found to be a fairly reliable indicator of body fat measures in most people. Although some studies still question the accuracy of the BMI method of body fat measurement, especially for athletes.
Ideal Body Weight and Body Fat Percent
The ideal weight and fat-lean ratio varies considerably for men and women and by age, but the minimum percent of body fat considered safe for good health is 5 percent for males and 12% for females. The average adult body fat is closer to 15 to 18% for men and 22 to 25% for women.
Athletes tend to be at low end of this scale due to their increased lean weight (muscle mass). While low levels of body fat seem to be related to improved performance, body composition alone is not a great predictor of sports success. A linebacker needs to have enough body mass (lean and fat weight) to generate high forces and avoid injury. Body fat among elite athletes vary largely by sport. There is little evidence of any benefit when men drop under 8% and women drop under 14 percent body fat.
How Low Is Too Low?
While the average body fat percent in the United States and Europe is increasing, extremely low body fat percent is also a health problem. The female athlete triad highlights the problem. Women athletes who lose too much fat risk injury, decreased performance and health issues.
The female athlete triad refers specifically to three related health problems often found in women athletes:
* Eating disorders and low energy availability.
* Amenorrhea and menstrual disorders.
* Decreased bone mass and increased risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis.
This attempt to reduce body fat by extreme measures not only leads to decreased exercise performance, but can lead to severe health complications. Nutrient deficiencies and fluid/electrolyte imbalance from low food intake can lead to increased risk of fractures, illness, loss of reproductive function and serious medical conditions such as dehydration, and starvation. The medical complications of this triad involve almost every body function and include the cardiovascular, endocrine, reproductive, skeletal, gastrointestinal, renal, and central nervous systems.
Read the updated American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand on the Female Athlete Triad.
How Much Body Fat Is Too Much?
Just as too little body fat can cause physiological complications, too much body fat is also harmful. For men over 25% and women over 32% fat there is a dramatic correlation with illness and disease.
Isn’t Body Composition Genetic?
Some aspects of your body composition are genetic (where you store fat), but most fat increase is related to lifestyle.
Can I Change My Body Composition?
Yes. To increase or decrease your percent of body fat you need to create the right balance between the calories in and calories out. The best way to do this is to decrease daily calories by about 500 and increase your exercise. Aerobic exercise along with strength training is ideal. If you are beginning a new exercise program, you are advised to first consult your physician.