Surprised, aren’t you? How can one embrace FAT and yet be FIT. Embracing is something you do when you like someone. Over here the question is, do we really like FAT or do we dislike it. Let us personify fat for ease of comprehension and assume that you are about to befriend him. When you can befriend someone, you understand them, you like them, and they get the best out in you. So, now once we understand the importance of FAT, we can distinguish between the healthy and unhealthy fat and their influence on our lives.

Why healthy fat?

  • Both overweight and underweight present risks to health
  • It is not your weight you need to control; it is the fat in your body in proportion to the lean mass — your body composition. Understanding and monitoring your body composition is important.
  • The problem of being underweight is not as prevalent as being overweight, but both scenarios may pose health threats.

Recommended body fat percentage for Asians

AgeUnder fatHealthy rangeOverweightObese
20–40 yearsUnder 21%21–33%33–39%More than 39%
41–60 yearsUnder 23%23–35%35–40%More than 40%
61–79 yearsUnder 24%24–36%36–42%More than 42%


AgeUnder fatHealthy rangeOverweightObese
20–40 yearsUnder 8%8–19%19–25%More than 25%
41–60 yearsUnder 11%11–22%22–27%More than 27%
61–79 yearsUnder 13%13–25%25–30%More than 30%

Importance of fat in our life:

  • Fats are referred to as lipids and are the most concentrated source of energy. They are found both in solid and liquid forms.
  • One gram of fat supplies 9 Kcal. Thus, it is easy to fathom why foods high in fat are also high in calories.
  • Fat is the only source of linoleic acid (Ω-6 fatty acid) responsible for growth and skin maintenance.
  • They act as secondary sources of energy, which become available on depletion of carbohydrate stores in muscles.
  • Dietary fats provide us with essential fatty acids, which our body is unable to manufacture.
  • The depot for the fat in our body is adipose tissue.
  • Fats function as insulators and shock absorbers. They reduce the loss of body heat in cold weather.
  • Fats should account for 30% or less of the total calories consumed daily, with saturated fat (SF) accounting not more than 10% of the total fat intake.
  • Fat acts as an important carrier of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).

Fats are broadly classified as:

What are triglycerides (TGs)?
TGs in plasma are derived from fats eaten in food or made in the body from other energy sources such as carbohydrates. Calories ingested in a meal and not immediately utilized by the tissues get converted to TGs and transported to the fat cells to be stored. Hormones regulate the release of TGs from the fat stores, so they meet the body’s need for energy in between meals.

Repercussions of excess TGs:

Excess TGs in plasma is called hypertriglyceridemia. It is implicated in coronary artery disease, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders in some people. Like cholesterol, increase in triglyceride levels can be detected by triglyceride plasma assessment. These measurements should be made after an overnight food and alcohol fast. Total TGs should be less than 150 mg/dl.

Facts about Cholesterol:

  • Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found among the lipids in the bloodstream and in all our body cells.
  • It is an important part of a healthy body because it is used to form cell membranes, certain hormones, and is required for other essential functions in our body.
  • Though essential, an excess of cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
  • Atherosclerosis or plaque builds up in arteries as a result of a high concentration of cholesterol in the blood. It is a cause of concern when the plaque buildup in the arteries blocks or clogs the blood flow. This can lead to heart attack/stroke.
  • The liver is responsible to process cholesterol in our body.
  • Cholesterol and other fats cannot dissolve in the blood. They have to be transported to and from the cells by special carriers called lipoproteins. There are several kinds of lipoproteins, but the ones to be concerned are:
    • LDL (Bad Cholesterol)
    • HDL (Good Cholesterol)

The GOOD and the BAD
BAD or Lousy Cholesterol — LDL:
LDL is the major cholesterol carrier in the blood. The excess LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood slowly builds up in the wall of the arteries feeding the heart and the brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaques, a thick, hard deposit that can clog those arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. A clot (thrombus) that forms near this plaque can block the blood flow to part of the heart muscle and cause heart attack. If it blocks the blood flow to the brain, it results in stroke.

A high level of LDL cholesterol (160 mg/dl and above) reflects an increased risk of heart disease. Hence, LDL cholesterol is labeled as BAD/Lousy cholesterol. It is best if LDL is <100.

GOOD Cholesterol — HDL:
About one-third to one-fourth of blood cholesterol is carried by HDL. HDL carries the cholesterol away from the arteries back to the liver where it passes from the body. HDL removes excess cholesterol from the plaques and thus slows their growth. HDL is called GOOD Cholesterol because a high HDL level protects against heart attack (cardio protective). Alternatively, a low HDL level (less than 40 mg/dl) indicates a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. It is best if HDL is >60.

Total Cholesterol:

How does exercise (physical activity) affect cholesterol?
Exercise increases HDL (good cholesterol) in some people. Higher HDL cholesterol is linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Physical activity helps control weight, diabetes, and hypertension. Aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging, dancing condition our heart and lungs.

Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart diseases:
Even moderate intensity exercises, if done regularly, help reduce our risk, e.g. walking for pleasure, gardening, and housework, dancing, and prescribed exercises.

How does tobacco smoke affect cholesterol?
Tobacco smoke is one of the six major risk factors of heart disease that one can change or treat. Smoking lowers HDL (Good) cholesterol levels.

In short, we cannot live with too much of fat nor can we survive with too little. So, “EMBRACE FAT to control your Fat levels.” “Fitness, Right Attitude, & test/assessment.”