Do you want the
Fit vs Fat
Benefits of Fitness?

How is our fit vs fat status related to the benefits of fitness?

Could you possibly look slim in your clothes but still be over-fat?

Or, could you look big and yet not be over-fat?

Can you gain fat without gaining weight?

Let me tell you the story about 3 women so you can see the difference between fit and fat more easily.

benefits of fitness

I think we don't always understand how the benefits of fitness express themselves. Let’s compare three 36-year old women who are all similar weights according to the scale and similar heights but at different levels of fit vs fat.

Erica, often joins her son for tennis, and many evenings she's forever playing active games with her daughter and friends on the slides or back lawn. She also walks her dog regularly.

Nthandi, goes to gym. She does a daily workout of weight training interspersed with aerobics.

For Mary, bending down to pick up the soap in the shower is about as much exercise as she gets.

So, how do each of them shape up in the fit vs fat debate?

What benefits of fitness do each of them enjoy?

Who is fit vs fat?

On the surface, they may all have similar statistics, but the stats we can’t see are the ones that may count the most. One of the benefits of fitness is that done regularly it changes fat into muscle which speeds up your metabolism because muscle uses a lot more energy to stay alive than fat does. It's like putting having a larger engine in your car - it uses more gas.

For all the good the figure each of these women sees on the scale is worth, they may as well use it in the manner this cartoon shows. You see your scale can't tell the difference between being heavy on a scale and over-fat ...besides scales are great for fish and horrible for people so this is one more good reason to throw that scale out.

scale, weighing on a scale

Scales can only measure what you weigh - they don’t give you any indication of your body composition. And your body composition affects and is a reflection of how fast or slow is your metabolism.

It's like having someone phone you from a butcher to say they're having a special and wanting to know if you'd like some. Wouldn't you want to know what the special consisted of- I mean are you paying for meat or fat?

And, here’s the biggie….the more muscle you carry relative to the amount of fat you have, the faster your body will utilize energy and the less efficiently it will store excess food as fat.

Even the much touted BMI (body mass index: divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters), while it might be a better measurement than a bathroom scale, it stilldoesn’t tell the full story.


Nthandi is Fit and leanFat

Let’s look at Nthandi – our gym-goer. According to her scale and her BMI, she is overweight. But that doesn't mean she's fat! What is true is that she has a high percentage muscle and a low percentage fat. Muscle, on a scale, weighs three times what fat does.

Nthandi has no roll over her waistband, she has large calves and her body feels taut to the touch. In a swimming pool, even having taken a big breath in, she still struggles to stay afloat. Her percentage body fat falls into the ideal range of 19,1%. She's experiencing the benefits of fitness.


Mary is unfit and overfat

So how can someone like Mary, who is the same weight on a scale as Nthandi fall within normal weight limits according to her scale and BMI and yet be so-called over-fat?

As Mary has become progressively more sedentary, she losing the benefits of fitness as her muscle atrophies from a lack of use, and fat is replacing it. She's going from fit to fat. But you won’t necessarily see this on the scale because she can gain a lot of lighter fat replacing heavier muscle before it’ll register on the scale. Mary may not even have noticed it because of the way fat packs on.

• initially the fat would have seeped into the unused muscles,
• before packing around her internal organs.
• and only when her internal fat exceeds her muscle’s capacity to store it, will it then deposit under her skin and show on her body.

So, while at 35 she may weigh, and possibly have a similar body size even as she did when she was 25, she has nevertheless become a lot fatter. Mary’s calves are small and her body has a soft, fee to it. Her percentage body fat is 27,8% which means she’s carrying far more fat than Ntandi even though she isn’t overweight. In a swimming pool, she’ll have no problems floating with or without a breath. She's lost the benefits of fitness.


Erica is Fit and not Fat

Erica falls somewhere in between. Her percentage body fat is 21,7%, her calves are about medium size and her body feels firm but with a little more softness than Nthandi’s. In a swimming pool, she’ll probably need a big breath in, to stay afloat, Both the scale and her BMI show she’s within normal limits.


So, the big question do we get the benefits of fitness in a fun way?

Return from Fit vs Fat

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