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How to Lose a Percentage of Body Fat

By Lori Newell

Achieving and maintaining a healthy percent of body fat helps to lower your risk for chronic disease. Having too much body fat makes you more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious health problems. Losing excess fat can also take pressure off of your back and joints and help to reduce chronic pain. Losing body fat takes work. The best way is to combine a sensible eating program along with a regular cardiovascular and strength training program.

Watch your caloric intake. If you are overweight you need to lose weight. If you are underweight you need to gain muscle mass. It is possible to be at a healthy weight and still have too high a percentage of body fat. Your body fat is the percentage of your current weight that is fat instead of muscle. So even someone who is thin may not have enough muscle tone. If you are overweight you need to take in less calories then you burn off to lower your percentage of body fat. If you are not eating enough calories, then you body feels starved and will start to break down your muscles for fuel. Getting the right amount of calories is the first step toward losing a percentage of body fat.

Develop a good strength training program. To lower your percentage of body fat, you need to increase your lean muscle mass. This refers to the percentage of your current weight that is muscle and not fat. Having more muscle may make you weigh more, but your percentage of body fat will decrease. Make sure you design a program that works all of your major muscle groups. You should try for one to three sets of each exercise, and aim to do at least eight to 12 exercises each session. You need to use weight that is heavy enough that fatigues you by the tenth repetition. Using light weights and doing a high number of repetitions will not help you to build muscle. You should strength train each muscle group three times per week, taking a day of rest in between. Sticking with a solid strength training program will help you to lower your percentage of body fat and increase lean muscle mass. This is also good if you are trying to lose weight.

Add cardiovascular exercise. Getting the right amount of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise is also essential especially if you are carrying some extra weight. Getting 40 to 50 minutes of aerobic exercise five days per week will help you to lose extra weight and lower your body fat percentage. Remember that one pound is equal to 3,500 calories. To lose one pound per week you need to either burn off 500 calories per day or eat 500 calories less per day.

Calculate how much weight you need to lose to drop one percent of body fat. The amount of weight you need to lose to drop your percent body fat by one percent is based on your current weight. Take your current weight and multiply it by your current percentage of body fat. Then multiply that number by one percent. This will tell you how much weight you need to lose. For example, a 200-pound man has 28 percent body fat. Two hundred times .28 equals 56. This means that he has 56 pounds of fat. Multiply 56 by one percent to get .56 This means he would have to lose about half a pound to lower his percent body fat by one percent. To accomplish this he would need to exercise enough to burn off 250 calories a day for seven days or eat 250 calories less each day for one week.

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