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03 Feb 2004

Decreasing Body Fat %
Hi Doc,
I am the correct weight (66kg) for my height (176cm) however my body fat percentage is 28.8 (this I believe is not my ideal for my age - 28) Please advise what I need to do in order to decrease my body fat percentage.
Much thanks and kindest regards, Janine
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Expert
FitnessDoc
fitnessdoc

01 Jan 0001

Hi Janine

I have a few concerns - the first is the accuracy of the body fat reading. I've experienced too many very dodgy readings to always take this value that seriously. It may well be true, that is something I can't judge without knowing more or your lifestyle and training history, but I am not sure that body fat % is important or accurate enough to focus an entire training programme on.

With regards to reducing this figure, the key is cardio training, and weight training is correct amounts.
My personal opinion is that cardio is the primary focus for someone wanting to lose fat mass. The only way you will be able to lift your metabolic rate, and therefore burn more energy including fat, is by doing regular cardio training. Weight training has its place, as I will explain, but the cardio is the vital aspect that needs to be there to kickstart weight loss.

Cardio would include activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, aerobics, swimming etc. It is important to exercise between 4 and 5 times a week, for a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes each session. It is also ideal to work at a moderate to hard intensity, but for a longer duration. You should aim to do these sessions at an intensity that allows you to complete the session without feeling completely exhausted, but having worked up a good sweat and feeling that your breathing and metabolic rate are elevated.

now, with regards to weight training, it is important because lean muscle has a naturally higher metabolic rate than fat does. So, if you can increase your lean muscle mass (by weight training) then the idea is that you will also increase the metabolic rate, which means that you will, even at rest, be able to burn more energy. Hence, you will be able to keep weight off and this means less fat. So, that is where it fits in. However, the most important thing is to get started and to actually lose weight, you must be doing cardio training - the increase you get in metabolic rate during a 30 minute bout of cardio (and for the few hours after) far outweighs the weight training increases, and so if it's weight loss you are after, then cardio is the way to go. Once you have achieved weight loss, or you are still busy achieving it, then the weight training becomes important to sustain it.

Hope this helps
Regards
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