Body fat and body weight are commonly misunderstood, but it’s important to distinguish between the two as you pursue a fit, healthy lifestyle.
Technically, body weight is the measure of the gravitational force on your body, which is based on the mass of your body multiplied by the acceleration of gravity. For us, that simply translates into a number in pounds or kilograms that we see on the scale, and is one way to measure our size. The term overweight usually is defined in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI), which is calculated using a person’s height and weight. A BMI of more than 25 is considered overweight.
Fat refers to what’s stored inside the body – essential fat that is required for normal physiologic functioning and storage fat that serves as insulation and nutritional reserve. Body fat can be measured in multiple ways, and the findings are given in a percentage of the overall body composition. For healthy men, the optimal range is approximately 10-18%, and for women, 16-25%.
Obesity is defined as overfatness, or more than 25% body fat for men and 30% for women. In terms of BMI, greater than 30 is considered obese.
What’s important to remember is that some people have a higher weight due to more muscle mass, which weighs more than fat. Knowing your weight is important, but keeping track of your body fat provides greater insight into your health.