Fat and Fit is the New “Healthy”?

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Fat and Fit
Fat and Fit

Your doctor told you that you are overweight. You have a BMI of 28.5 which, considering your height, is far from the ideal. But you feel great – you ride your bike for 10 miles every morning, live an active life, have a healthy diet, and you overall feel like a million bucks. OK, you have a bit of extra padding – you are what doctors call “fat and fit”. But is that really such a bad thing?

“Overweight” is not the synonym of “not healthy”

fat and fit

The ideal body weight for your height depends a lot on who you are asking. Based on my height, my age and my gender (I’m 240 pounds of a 39-year-old male, married, 1 child, thanks for asking) the body weight I should be fighting to achieve is:

  • Based on the Robinson formula (1983), your ideal weight is 167.0 lbs
  • Based on the Miller formula (1983), your ideal weight is 162.8 lbs
  • Based on the Devine formula (1974), your ideal weight is 173.6 lbs
  • Based on the Hamwi formula (1964), your ideal weight is 180.2 lbs
  • Based on the healthy BMI recommendation, your recommended weight is 138.3 lbs – 186.9 lbs

But when it comes to fitness, I beat anyone in my family. I bike, I run, I also work out occasionally. Although I mostly work sitting down (it’s hard to write while standing), I compensate for my sedentary lifestyle with enough activity (which I enjoy, by the way). And my diet is far from what you would consider “unhealthy” – I don’t eat bread, I love fruit and salads, and consume just an occasional piece of cake – especially the one made by my mom.

Yes, it’s possible to be “fat and fit”

According to the Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adultsissued by the NHLBI, higher body weight is not unhealthy unless:

  • your waist circumference exceeds 35 inches (for women) or 40 inches (for men)
  • you have at least two of the following conditions:
    • high blood pressure
    • high blood sugar
    • high cholesterol

As you can see, even the doctors agree that the extra padding you have around your waist is not as bad as nutritionists and dietitians want you to believe. And they will try to scare you into following their diet (and buying their book, of course), taking their supplements, and so on. Even if we already know that the ideal body weight is decided by the brain, not by a metric.

How to be fat and fit at the same time?

First of all, don’t be desperate to lose fat – your body will resist anyway. Instead, focus on being healthy: have a balanced diet, exercise enough, don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol (or at least not in excess), and visit your doctor regularly to rule out any chronic, or congenital, health conditions. And don’t fall for the uniform metrics the “fat loss industry” wants force on you: everyone is unique. Staying healthy and fit is much more important than the numbers on the scale.

And when it comes to your beach body… well, that’s a story for another time.

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