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Body fat % - how do you reduce this?


I'm a 5'1" female, weighing 130pounds. I've been quite active [not very active] through this year managing about 3 w/os per week (except for 2-3 months in the middle of this year). I have not tracked my food intake though until last month.
At the start of the year my body fat was at 33%. In the last 2 months I've done a good amount of cardio and weight training w/os and good diet, I've just got a re-baselined body fat done. Its up and now is at 34.5% (I'm still around the same weight I was at the start of the year).

I was wondering why my body fat has gotten worse even after 2 good months. [Ofcourse I had not taken my body fat % then]
My nutritionist feels that since I dont consume anything before my morning w/o, my body doesnt have any ready carbs to consume. It therefore targets the protein which would have helped build muscle.
Is this true ?

I've been asked to make some changes to add a banana before the w/o and protein (2 egg whites) within 1/2 hr of the end of my w/o in the mornings.

Thankful for any thoughts, advice or suggestions that you may have to share.

Mon. Nov 27, 5:23am

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Well partially it has gone up because you've lost muscle mass. Maybe because of what you PT said, maybe because you've been restricting your food intake and you've lost both fat and muscle.

A change to your total body fat percentage of 1.5% isn't a drastic change, and since their is no 100% guaranteed and reliable form of measuring body fat percentage the difference could just be the difference in who was doing the measuring and how they were doing it. I've been calculating my body fat percentage based on my neck, waist, hip & height measurements and just losing a bit more than a 1/2 inch from the waist and hip would calculated an increase in body fat similar to what you've seen. So with the fact that the two tests may have been calculated slightly off and it's not a drastic increase I would say most likely your body fat % has stayed flat this year... which to me makes sense if your still around the same weight.

Monday, November 27, 2006, 7:29 AM

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Well, I have heard that same thing your trainer says, and I don't know if it's true, but to the extent it is, the people it really makes a difference for are weightlifters trying to get down under 10%. OTOH, starting the day with a healthy breakfast of SOME kind is key! And diet is a heck of a lot more important than exercise for losing weight, although one definitely facilitates the other.

My suggestion is that you aren't being honest with yourself about calories in/calories out. You don't want to go TOO low on calories, but you do want to create a deficit -- which you haven't succeeded in doing yet. It only SEEMS like body fat condenses out of thin air, LOL! I am a big fan of counting calories, at least for a couple of weeks, to get a true idea of what the inputs are. Here are some things to watch for, even when you are super-good about sweets and fats:

-alcohol -- has more calories than you would think!
-little condiments, like cream in coffee -- yikes!
-portion size, esp. when eating out
-compensatory eating -- if you think you had a great workout so you eat a little more... ...DON'T do it!
-workout intensity -- step it up, make it uncomfortable, and set a higher number of total workout minutes per week. The most successful losers I've met on PeerTrainer were doing >300 mins. of cardio per week.

As small as you are, you won't burn as many calories at an activity as are listed in those tables made for 6' tall guys! But the good side is that you aren't horribly overweight, and you already have good habits and are working hard. Keep up the good work and it will all come together for you. Best of luck!

Monday, November 27, 2006, 7:43 AM

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The nutritionist's ideas are reasonable ones, but of course nothing comes with a guarantee. I can add this - whether and how much you would get that protein destruction depends on the intensity of the workout. There is some rate at which you can derive energy out of fats, and if you consume energy faster than that, it will have to come out of whatever proteins or sugars are available. If you're in a low blood sugar state, then more comes from protein.
Muscle building and fat loss are somewhat conflicting goals in the short run. You would tweak the program differently depending on which one you want to make a priority. It sounds like losing body fat is your higher priority and as another poster mentioned, you will have to create a sustained calorie deficit to do that. You probably shouldn't expect major muscle gain while you do that.
I'll also echo the comment that body fat measures are not very exact (even with the best measurement methods). You're about the same - that's all those numbers say.

Monday, November 27, 2006, 10:06 AM

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Fat is created by fat. Reduce the fat intake and start working out.

Monday, November 27, 2006, 10:53 AM

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well some fat is created by fat but any excess calories you take in that your body doesn't need for fuel will turn to fat. this includes excess protein, excess carbs, excess anything.

Monday, November 27, 2006, 12:47 PM

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When dieting, you have to do strengh training, or 25% of your weight loss will be muscle mass. If you've lost muscle, your body fat percentage will go up.

My other idea: that your body fat percentage varies according to time of day, amount of water in you body, if you've recently done any strengh training, and who or what is doing the measuring.

Don't be hard on yourself. I find that measuring my body with a measuring tape is the best way to track my progress, although, I do take my weight weekly and my bfp bi-weekly, as well.

Good luck, and I hope this helps!


Monday, November 27, 2006, 1:09 PM

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I really think you should consider breakfast before you workout in the morning - complex carbs and a banana or an apple. Even though my trainer knows that I eat before we workout, he always asks when and what I had we we start. Also, hydration is so important before and during your exercise routine. Fitness mag had something regarding how much performance is lost when you're doing cardio or weights when you're not properly hydrated.

Monday, November 27, 2006, 1:46 PM

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