You know what they say about the word assume: it makes an ass out of u and me. And it applies when we make assumptions about weight.
You can’t assume that a person that is thin is healthy and that a person that is larger is unhealthy. You don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, and that’s what is happening metabolically. Metabolically, what is going on with blood sugar, insulin, thyroid hormone, sex hormones, bone health, auto-immunity, gut health, and genetic differences?
You can’t assume that the larger bodied person is eating more volume of crappy food and the smaller bodied person swims in vegetables and lean proteins at each meal.
You can’t assume that the lean people are exercising regularly and that automatically makes them more fit and healthy.
We’ve all seen or are the type of person that can quite literally eat any and everything processed, sweet, and savory on a daily basis yet seem to stay the same size. But why does their size assume that their metabolism is winning them magical health points? All that processed food is no better for metabolic health on a smaller bodied person than a larger bodied person. Processed foods are still devoid of nutrients that support the inner workings of all bodies. Everyone regardless of size needs mostly real food coming from colorful fruits and vegetables, protein, plant-based fats, and some carbs from whole grain and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.
BUT WHAT ABOUT FAT ON BODIES?
Genetically many ethnicities have their visceral abdominal fat (fat that is around our organs for padding and protection) that grows inward toward and around their organs more compared to other ethnicities. From the outward appearance they seem as though they are thin and must be healthy. But actually this excess visceral fat makes them even more susceptible to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes compared to those that have excess subcutaneous fat (the fat layer just below the skin).
Excess subcutaneous fat percentage compared to muscle mass is just as dangerous for all body sizes because of the metabolic information being sent and received from muscle and fat tissue. Muscle cells help to regulate how sensitive these cells are to insulin signaling to let glucose (aka sugar molecule from all carb sources) into the muscle cells. Sensitivity to this insulin signal is enhanced even further from muscles that are used regularly for fitness. We need insulin to let glucose into the cells 1) so our cells can make the energy it needs to function and 2) so it’s not floating around in our blood stream. Excess glucose in our blood causes mayhem, visualize thick syrupy blood. That’s not good for anyone.
Fat is also metabolically active, it’s not just there to help keep your bones safe and your body warm, nor is it just a store house of extra calories. Adipose tissue (aka fat), among many things, is needed to maintain sex hormone balance. When there is inflammation from poor dietary choices like processed foods, crappy fat sources, and excess easy carbs (sugar and flour) then our fat sends out the wrong signals, men make less testosterone and more estrogen and women make more testosterone and estrogen balance gets off.
Yes you can have excess fat mass and still be metabolically healthy. Yes, you can be too low in body fat even if you have a lot of muscle mass and are very fit.
So, regardless of what your natural weight is and what it is composed of, do you know what’s happening behind your scenes? Get your blood tested at least once a year that include some more in depth information like inflammation markers, a full thyroid panel (not just TSH), if you are at risk for heart disease get an expanded cholesterol panel, test your insulin not just your glucose. Information matters.
Regardless of size eat whole real foods, move your body with joy, get some real sleep, get rid of the toxic stressful things or people in your life, and stop comparing yourself to others. Know your facts about your behind the scenes body and use that as your confidence not the number on your clothes tag.
Post Submitted by Jessica Pearson of Path Nutrition