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Fat and fit


I think I depressed one of my work colleagues today.  I was showing them the scales that work out your body fat percentage.  Unfortunately it gave a higher percentage than they hoped (it classed them as obese).

So he asked how can he be classed as obese if he does so much training?

Well, fitness and fatness are two different things.  Here in the UK, they do usually go hand  in hand.  In other words, most fat people you meet will also be unfit.  But this isn’t always the case.

Fat and unfit

Fat and unfit

Being fat.

Carrying excess fat simply means that in the past, you have been consuming more calories than you have been burning.  It says nothing at all about the actual amounts of calories taken in, or the actual amount of calories burned off.  Just that the first number is greater than the second number.

Being fit.

Being classically fit just means that over time, your heart, lungs, bones and muscles have become stronger, more efficient and more capable of doing sustained work.

An example of the usual fat and unfit person could be someone who drives to a physically easy office job, never does any physically taxing activity, drives home, sits on the sofa eating a pizza and watching the soaps.  They might only burn 2,000 calories, but consume 3,000 calories every day, making an excess of 1,000 calories.

Fat and fit

An example of the more unusual fat and fit person could be someone who has a physically active, manual job, who regularly exercises and plays sports, but who then also goes home and eats a pizza and ice cream every night.  They might burn 3,000 calories, but consume 4,000 calories every day, also making an excess of 1,000 calories.

Both these people are going to get very fat very quickly.  But the heart, lungs, bones and muscles of the second person will also be very fit and strong!  They will be able to sustain a lot of effort.

This last bit is a quick and dirty personality test to see what kind of person you are.  You have 4 options.

You can be:
  • Fat and fit
  • Lean and fit
  • Fat and unfit
  • Lean and unfit

Which would you put at number 1 (most important for you), 2, 3 and 4 (least important for you).  For me it would be the following:

  1. Lean and fit (because I could out-perform most people and would be happy about how I look)
  2. Fat and fit (because I could out-perform most people, and I would have the work capacity to help me lose fat)
  3. Lean and unfit (although I wouldn’t be able to do the things I enjoy doing and are important to me, at least I wouldn’t have as many health related problems compared to…)
  4. Fat and unfit (I wouldn’t be able to do things I enjoy and find important, and I would have much higher risks of many chronic health problems associated with obesity)

Remember, there is no right or wrong answer, just your opinion.  Leave you answers in the comments section below!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. jenny blake permalink
    20/06/2010 2:34 am

    Just wanted to add

    Obesity is usualy defined according to BMI
    BMI is calculated using height and weight
    If you are extremly fit and carry a lot of muscle (remembering muscle weighs more than fat) it is possible that your BMI can score high and put you in the obese category.

    It shouldn’t be difficult to work out if you are scoring as obese due to a lot of muscle but I thought people may find it interesting to know.

    The health service is moving away from using BMI to using waist measurement as a prediction for health.

    Oh yeah and my priorities are in your order- being fit generaly being the priority. You can do a lot more fun stuff when your fit, when your not it becomes not only physicaly difficult but mentaly difficult too as physical activity is harder to do it takes increasing will power to do it- if your not carefull you can find yourself in a downward spiral.

    • 21/06/2010 7:11 am

      Hello jenny! Havent seen you for aaaages! How are things?
      I disscussed BMI and hip/waist ratio’s here (
      I didn’t know the NHS was moving away from BMI. That is interesting to know. Do you know if they have an official “timetable”, or are they just “informally” shifying fom one to the other?

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