With carols sung and dreidels spun we move into the new year. We draft a list of resolutions that collect dust in the desk drawer by the time spring equinox turns the corner. As opposed to chasing restriction in the new year, we suggest something sustainable: creating lifestyle changes day by day. Many resolutions surround the realm of body composition—weight loss or weight gain. Today we want to discuss the topic of body composition holistically so that you may implement sustainable lifestyle changes in the new year that fit your unique, healthy body composition goals. The new year offers a start line—use it!
What Is Body Composition?
Body composition refers to the percentage of fat, muscle, and bone in your body. Weight alone cannot tell us everything. Because all humans hold and distribute weight differently, focusing on body composition will allows you to more accurately assess your physical wellness.
We all have different parameters and definitions of our healthy body composition as we all exist in different bodies and circumstances. Remember to do what works for you!
How Can I Assess My Body Composition?
If you want to change your body composition in the new year—growing or slimming into your ideal body—you will need to intermittently asses your progress. As you implement intentional nutrition and exercise into your daily practices, your body composition will likely have lower fat percentages and higher muscle percentages. Therefore, assessing body composition on the scale alone proves null.
Because a scale only shows our weight, many choose to assess their progress through different outlets:
- Track Body Circumference: lowered circumferences reflect fat loss
- Progress Pictures: show weight loss and gain with as you progress
- Fit of Clothing: growing into or slimming into clothes reflects weight change
Moving towards desired, healthy body compositions comes with challenges. Avoid dwelling on arbitrary numbers and track your composition in a way that promotes positive emotions and suits your lifestyle.
How Can I Improve My Body Composition?
When pursuing a healthy body composition, we suggest something sustainable: creating lifestyle changes day by day. Today we will discuss intentional choices in three realms of health and wellness that will support you on this journey—nutrition, exercise, and hydration.
You do not need to change your entire routine overnight—realistically this will not stick. Instead, focus on improving elements of your diet slowly. Incorporating essential vitamins and minerals while existing in the recommended macronutrient percentages.
When approaching nutrition, we want to begin by ensuring that we are receiving optimal amounts of macronutrients within our daily caloric allowance. If you have questions about the ideal caloric intake for your individual body composition goals, reach out to your healthcare provider! Our needs vary. Generally, the average healthy adult should abide by the following macronutrient percentages when moving towards a healthy body composition:
- Protein: 10-35% of your caloric intake
- Carbohydrates: 45-65% of your caloric intake
- Fats: 20-35% of your caloric intake
Caloric intakes vary by individual needs and composition goals but the percentages of macronutrients we should consume within that caloric allowance remains that same. Seek out foods that fulfill the distribution within your preferred diet—omnivorous, vegetarian, or vegan. This formula supports each diet preference.
As we mentioned earlier, you do not need to change your entire nutrition routine overnight. Start small by prioritizing nutrient-dense whole foods. Your individual nutrition needs and recommended intake will vary—height, weight, age, gender, and activity levels play an important role. However, you can find the general recommended intake for fruits and vegetables below:
- Fruit: 2 cups-equivalent daily
- Vegetables: 2-3 cups-equivalent daily
As you pursue your healthy body composition, avoid restriction. Focus on nourishing your body with essential vitamins and minerals above all else. Indulge as you please within your caloric intake while prioritizing nutrient-dense whole foods that serve your body and its goals. If you struggle to identify what foods serve your body best, ask yourself the following:
- How does my body feel after eating this?
- Do I feel energized? Or depleted?
- Did this food provide me with essential vitamins and minerals?
Focus on the way foods make you feel and their nutritional content. Avoid rhetoric refers to foods as good or bad—healthy or unhealthy. Our nutritional needs vary. Consume foods that serve you!
When looking to support a healthy body composition, always prioritize movement. It is vital. When we are sedentary—or overactive—we hinder our physical health and wellness. Consistent, sustainable exercise revitalizes our lives. Below are five benefits of exercise:
- Sustainable Energy
- Balanced Mood
- Healthy Sleep Quality
- Boosts Self-Esteem
- Supports Healthy Body Composition
Movement allows us to increase our muscle composition while decreasing our fat composition. Moving our bodies allows us to expend more calories and expand our caloric allowance. Generally, the average healthy adult should strive for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Remember that exercise simply means moving your body. Try not to overcomplicate it.
The best exercise is one that is sustainable for YOU!
Healthy modes of exercise include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Strength Training
If physically able, begin by walking 10k steps every day!
Always, prioritize hydration! Though this concept may feel redundant, we cannot achieve healthy body compositions without adequate hydration. Water fuels us as it promotes internal wellness. It benefits every body system.
It is generally recommended to consume 64 ounces—or eight cups—of water per day.
Average individuals may also use body weight to determine water intake: ounces of water consumed equates your body weight in kilograms.
Example: if you weigh 70 kilograms, aim to drink 70 ounces of water per day.
If you are struggling to reach your water intake goal, consider implementing the chug method. On average, one second of chugging equates to one ounce of water. If you do a 10-second chug seven times throughout the day, you will likely reach the daily recommended value.
As opposed to chasing restriction in the new year, we suggest something sustainable: creating lifestyle changes day by day. So, how can you achieve a healthy body composition in the new year?
Body composition is the percentage of fat, muscle, and bone in your body.
How To Assess It: track body circumference or take progress pictures
You can support healthy body composition through nutrition, exercise, and hydration.
- Nutrition: prioritize eating nutrient-dense whole foods
- Exercise: integrate 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week
- Hydration: generally recommended to consume 64 ounces of water daily