What is the number one reason you want to lose weight and get rid of your body fat? I’ve asked a number of people this question, men, and women, and at the top of the list for both sexes was “to be healthy.” Doctors scare us into losing weight, spouses push us into it, and children really motivate us to lose it. In the end, we’re told get yourself in shape and you’ll live a healthy life.
But what happens when you take the challenge, lose the weight, and instead of ending up with better health, you find your body at risk because of your new eating habits?
What You Really Need to Know About Body Fat & Vitamin Deficiencies
My Wake Up Call!
A prevalent thought in weight loss is to get rid of the fat you consume daily. A lot of weight loss literature stress the unhealthy consequences of eating fats and provide substitutes that pretty much eliminate fats and their detrimental effects. I took that to heart and virtually eliminated fat from my diet.
However, when I went for my annual check-up, I certainly had expected to hear nothing but good news. I’ve maintained a 30-pound weight loss since 2013, my body mass index is exactly where it’s supposed to be, and I have my eating habits down to a science. So, imagine my surprise when my doctor called me, and you know it’s serious when a doctor calls, to say she was very concerned about the big dip in my Vitamin D.
Apparently, the normal range is 20ng/mL to 50ng/mL, and mine was an 8. Not just a little below but in the critical range. So, I had to get on this super crash diet of Vitamin D to get that back in shape and eat more from a list of foods high in Vitamin D. On the list were the green leafy vegetables that I eat all the time in order to keep my weight down. So, I was confused.
To compound matters, when I went for my eye exam, for the first time, my Ophthalmologist said he saw big changes in my eyes and sent me to get glasses. Disheartened, I had the urge to swing past the store for a six-pack of Mike’s Hard Black Cherry Lemonade and a big piece of Chocolate Wave cake from Red Lobster, my guilty pleasures. If I’m not going to be slim and healthy, I reasoned, I might as well be fat and happy.
We Actually Need Body Fat
Then I ran across an article that explained the importance of maintaining healthy levels of body fat in order for your body to function optimally. Make no mistake, according to Brett Blumenthal’s article 7 Reasons You Want Body Fat, “lean body mass helps our metabolisms stay in high gear, keeps our bones strong, prevents injuries and wards off disease.” But body fat actually helps us by acting as a transporter of fat soluble vitamins that our bodies must have. Those fat soluble vitamins are A,D,E and K. Your body can only absorb these nutrients in the presence of fat. Without body fat, you put your body at risk for fighting off important medical issues.
Signs to Look For: Vitamin Deficiency
- Vitamin A deficiency symptoms can include dry skin, night blindness, increased susceptibility to infections and problems with bone and tooth strength.
- Vitamin D deficiencies, which cause soft and weak bones, have symptoms of bone pain.
- Vitamin K deficiency can lead to increased bleeding and problems with blood clotting.
- Vitamin E deficiency can cause mild anemia, cataracts, age spots, neurologic deficits, diminished sex drive, and slower cell repair. Cell repair is important to maintain good skin, hair, and nails.
The fats you do need are monounsaturated fats high in omega-3 found in avocados, salmon, tuna, and nuts. Fats that you don’t want are fatty meats, dairy products, trans fats, and saturated fats. The well-balanced diet will not avoid all fats, my mistake, but will include the necessary intake of fats for proper body function without weight gain. Generally, you need at least 15%-20% of your daily calories from fat. So, cheers to losing weight the proper, healthy way!