GET TO KNOW YOUR BODY BETTER
Delve past the surface to reach the core of what you’re really made up of. By Amanda Soh
You’ll be equipped to make healthier lifestyle choices!
Remember that defining moment when you hit puberty? As the years go by, your body will inevitably keep changing. So, before you go on that no-carb or liquid diet, and resolve to work out at least once or twice a week, it helps to know more about your body and what’s normal.
Your body composition
The human body is comprised of four components: water, fat, muscles, and bones. “As the decades go by, you add two per cent to those components except water, which decreases over time,” says Dr Jasmine Ruth, an aesthetic physician at Nexus Clinic. To compensate, it’s necessary to drink more water daily as you age. For the average woman, about 50 per cent of the body is water (it’s about 10 per cent more for the average man). The rest is fat and fat-free mass, under which your muscles and bones fall under. As a healthy person, around 30 to 40 per cent of your body comprises of skeletal muscles.
What’s fat got to do with it?
The remaining 15 to 30 per cent is fat. What’s considered a healthy fat percentage depends “Moderation is the key and weight is not everything. It’s not about the amount of exercise you do, but mAIntAInInG A CErtAIn Amount oF fitnEss. You need to have enough stamina to pull you through the day.” on your age: if you’re between the ages of 20 to 39, your fat percentage should be in the 19 to 22 per cent range. If you are 30 to 39 years old, fat percentage can vary between 20 to 24 percent. Place your hand on your stomach and picture this: right beneath your skin, there is the subcutaneous fat, and below that, the abdominal cavity, which works like a sack made up of protein tissue (it can only expand to a certain limit). In the abdominal cavity lie your organs: the liver, kidneys, stomach, and intestines. “Visceral fat – viscera is the Latin word for ‘organ’ – is the fat around your organs, keeping them from rubbing against each other. It holds your organs in place and also absorbs shock,” explains Dr Jasmine. When you overeat, you’ll accumulate extra fat around the organs. This compresses them and can lead to various chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and stroke.
Dr Jasmine adds, “It’s normal for women to have a slightly higher fat percentage than
men as we have breasts, which are made up of fat tissue, as well as a rounder bum and hips. We’re anatomically moulded to have more subcutaneous fat.” Any individual who has less than four to five per cent of body fat is dangerously ill. “You won’t have a sufficient amount of fat around your muscles and organs for shock absorption. You will also need the fat, stored within the skeletal muscle, for energy – used on a daily basis to breathe, talk, walk, and more.”
What prevents us from losing weight?
Other than the usual contributors to weight gain – a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and irregular meals – your body also works against you when you’re trying to losing weight. “Physiological factors, such as hormonal and metabolic changes, affect your weight. When you’re under a lot of stress at work, you’re less physically active and this directly causes a hormone imbalance. Your metabolic rate changes, and coupled with the fluctuation in your hormones, you start to gain weight even if you’re eating right,” explains Dr Jasmine.
The female sex hormone, oestrogen, is responsible for regulating your reproductive health and setting your body apart from a man’s. It’s linked to soft skin, curves, mood swings, beautiful tresses, and firm breasts and bum. So, naturally, your hormones affect how fat is distributed throughout your body. “Those who need more of a certain hormone, or have an excess of it, tend to be top- or bottom-heavy.”
Dr Jasmine Ruth, aesthetic physician at Nexus Clinic