Have you ever heard of the difference between your body composition and your body mass index (otherwise known as your BMI)? Well, it’s not that complicated. Your BMI is calculated by a very complicated formula that we won’t go into here, and is based on nothing more than your height, your weight and your age and gender. Truth be known, age is not that big of a deal, but there is a commonly held belief in our society that older people are just supposed to be fatter. Don’t believe nonsense like that… you can be lean and mean no matter what your age. But what about this body composition thing?
Your body compositions is an extrapolation of the tradition that we humans have of comparing ourselves to other things. Certainly you’ve heard that women can have hourglass figures, and that men can have v-shaped backs. Some people have even suggested that the human body can be either apple or pear-shaped. If you’ve ever looked at those particular fruits, which rest somewhere far away from the string bean, you’ll notice that being called apple or pear-shaped is not exactly a compliment.
Your body composition ultimately comes down to the percentage of your body which is lean mass (such as bones, organs and muscles), versus how much of it is fat (which is just fat). There are no delineations between “types” of fat… they’re all just useless. And in fact, the kind of fat that collects in a man’s midsection can actually begin to produce toxins, rather like an internal organ that you’d rather not have. The fact is, the amount of fat versus lean mass you have, is far more important than your BMI, because it’s actually about your body instead of about your demographic.
The BMI is just a table… it deals with people with severe muscle atrophy and also bodybuilders, just as much as it deals with those of us who are somewhere in the middle. It does not take into account your muscle mass, your bone density, or your amount of fat. It assumes (quite wrongly), that everyone on Earth has the same body composition. But if walking around teaches you anything, it should be that people come in all different shapes and sizes. And your health is far more dependent on how much (or preferably little) fat you’re carrying, than it is on what some number on a table says. More lean mass is better lean mass.
As a general rule, the BMI is a general measure, as it is a simple reference point that you can use as a personal benchmark. The point is that if you have a high BMI, it is likely that you have a seriously increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes.
But no matter how fat is measured: in the form of BMI, body composition or even by measuring your waist, being overweight and carrying fat around your abdominal area aggravates insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when the normal level of insulin produced by your pancreas does not allow sugar to enter your cells normally. Then your pancreas produces more insulin; when your cells still do not respond, sugar (too much) builds up in your blood, hence high blood sugar levels.