Diet Affects Body Composition
Being overweight may put you at an increased risk for a number of chronic conditions like Diabetes, hypertension, and even certain types of musculoskeletal problems. So much so that Obesity has also been considered by World Health Organization as a cause of leading threat to public health. Many interventions have been suggested for improving the body composition and reducing the risk of Obesity – however, changes in diet have been considered the most popular of these. (1)
How Diet Affects the Body Composition
The food we eat affects not only our body weight but also the energy partitions of the body and the composition of individuals segments of fats and muscles. For example, eating certain types of foods may raise the fat mass of the body, while the others may increase the fat-free mass more as compared to the fat mass. Furthermore, eating foods that are high in glucose has the ability to raise insulin levels, which may lead to a greater amount of fats in the body. Studies have shown individuals who consume foods containing less amount of sugar are found to have a smaller waist, as compared to those who have higher consumption.
Even though diet has the potential to affect the body composition of both males and females, the distribution of this may be slightly different for both genders. While males are found to have a greater amount of fats in the center of their body, like their stomach, females are found to have a higher fat composition in their thigh region. Moreover, the intake of fruit is also associated with changes in body composition and is found to be an effective promoter of lower BMI. (2)
America's Eating Habits – Changes and Consequences
Eating habits are found to have a particularly bad impact on our body, whether it is changed in the various component of body composition or just the overall BMI. Being a part of a fast lifestyle, the majority of American’s spend the majority of their day indulged in work and did not get time to make their own foods at proper eating times. This leads to a greater reliance on fast foods and improper snacking. These fast foods and ready-to-eat meals are consumed due to their ability to save one time, which they can spend doing other things – however, it may lead to a negative impact on the body in the long run. They contain not only less amount of fiber but also a greater quantity of unhealthy fat, cholesterol, and a greater amount of calories. (3)
A good number of the population stopped taking fats in the 1990s when it was suggested that taking the high ratio of fats in the diet can lead to significant weight gain – however, this has been proven incorrect by numerous studies in the following years. Fat consumption is not promoted not as a cause of weight gain but a cause of weight loss – especially after the introduction of the Keto diet. This means you may not consume high fatty foods like salmon, buttery avocadoes, and different types of nuts, as they not only keep you full for a longer time but also prevent unhealthy snaking and may be used as an alternate to sugary foods.
Fats vs. Carbs
Studies have shown that individuals who eat sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods on a regular basis are more likely to gain weight as compared to those who consume high fat and low carbohydrate diets. Hence by restricting your intake of fat-containing foods, you not only not lose weight but also are unable to attain the numerous health benefits these foods may have. This is also proven by studies conducted on diets that are high in fats, and the results have shown that individuals who consume these diets may stay protected from cardiovascular diseases.
Quality vs. Quantity of Fats
Moreover, unlike previous times, the fat requirement in a healthy diet is now more dependent on their quality rather than their quantity. Hence according to the reports by WHO, it is now recommended to put a greater focus on the type of fat found in the diet and optimize it, rather than cutting off all kinds of fats from the diet. (4) It is important to note that while saturated fats, which are found in foods like milk, cheese, coconut milk, are considered unhealthy in the long term, the unsaturated fats found in foods like avocadoes, nuts, and pumpkin seeds are healthy and may lower your overall cholesterol levels.
Overall, it is advised that you should try to consume foods that are low in carbohydrates. These refined carbohydrates are found to be the most harmful as they get broken down in the body the fastest and are highly discouraged by dietitians.
Eating high proteins foods is highly recommended by experts all over the world, as they are required for your growth, development, and body functioning. You may be able to assess the protein requirement of an individual by their amount of physical activity and their lean body mass, which may be achieved with the help of a body composition scale.
Protein and Muscle Mass
Experts recommend a higher protein intake for those who are trying to gain muscle mass. This has also been proven by numerous studies which have shown that those who take higher protein levels in their diet are found to have greater strength levels and a greater muscle mass. (5)
Risks Associated with an Increased Intake of Protein
Even though the consumption of Protein has increased exponentially, ever since its association with muscle mass was found – overconsumption of this nutrient may lead to negative effects. This is because it may deteriorate renal function, cause inflammation and even increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Fibers are a form of carbohydrates, which are known for their ability to promote digestion and regulation of weight. What makes them different from the other type of carbohydrates is that they are very large in size, and is made by more than ten monomers. This large size prevents them from being easily digested in the digestive tract and hence does not aid in weight gain but at the same time promotes the feeling of fullness. The types of food sources that are considered a part of the fiber group include non-starch polysaccharides, resistant forms of starch, hydrocolloids, cellulose, and pectins. (6)
The Types of Dietary Fibers
The fibers consumed in the diet can be further divided into different forms – however, the most common classification is independent of whether they are soluble or insoluble. While the soluble form of fibers is usually found in fruits and vegetables, the insoluble form may be found in foods like cereals and whole-grain bread. A major factor that differentiates these two is that while both forms are fermented by the bacteria in the gut, the soluble fibers are more easily fermented by bacteria as compared to the insoluble fiber. (7)
Can Fiber Really Help You Lose Weight?
As mentioned previously, consuming high levels of dietary fibers promote weight loss by promoting the feeling of fullness and satiety – which prevents the individual from unhealthy and frequent snacking. This was further investigated in a number of studies conducted on individuals being given soluble forms of fibers. The results showed that those who consumed these had a significant reduction in the size of their waist. They also found their weight to reduce by as much as 1.4 kg and body mass index by 0.5 kg per meter square. (8)
Fruits are a crucial part of our diet, as they provide our body with all the essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibers it requires for healthy functioning. This is why it is recommended by experts to consume at least 7 to 10 servings of fruits every day, as these may be able to protect you from different diseases and deterioration of the body. The importance of incorporating fruits in one diet can also be estimated by the studies showing individuals not having regular fruits consumption to be at a greater risk for early death and complications of different diseases. Other studies have also shown that those who consume a high proportion of fruit in their diet may stay protected from Obesity and have better control over their weight. (9)
What Happens To Your Body When you Eat fruit
When you eat fruits, they help act as a buffer for your body and balance the alkalinity caused by different foods like meat and carbs. Other than their role as a buffer, fruits also help you control your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which help prevent not only Diabetes but also numerous heart-related diseases. Due to their several therapeutic effects on the body, fruits are highly recommended to be incorporated in daily meals – either before food or after.
How Eating Fruit Affects Your Body Composition
Consuming fruits are found to be associated with improvements in the overall body composition. Studies have shown that fruits lead to the displacement of the energy-dense foods in the body, which allows an attenuated release of energy and a reduction in the total energy intake by the individual – preventing weight gain. Moreover, the higher levels of fiber found in fruits also help improve the satiety levels after meals, along with lowering the glycemic load of the foods. The high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in foods also help cater to oxidative stress and inflammation associated with Obesity. (10)
Ways to Assess the Body Composition
It has been suggested by experts that different individuals belonging to the same age, weight, and height do not necessarily have to have the same body composition. Despite the apparent similarities in these individuals, they may still have different body shapes, metabolic profiles, and energy requirements, and all this may be evaluated by using body composition analysis methods.
This is particularly important because body composition is found to be an essential factor in determining one long term health. It may also help you assess the changes in different components of your body over time and classify these changes as negative or positive. For example, an increase in body fat and a reduction in lean tissue is thought of as a positive change, while the opposite is perceived as a negative change. Body composition assessments may be conducted by different methods, which include Bioelectric impedance analysis, Magnetic Resonance, Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, which is also known as DXA, and other forms of body fat scales. (11)
Visbody is a state-of-the-art technology, which includes a 3D body scanner and allows you to see your three-dimensional avatar in real-time. It not only allows you to analyze your body composition but also gets all your measurements in under 10 seconds – hence saving you a lot of time. It may be used to take accurate measurements of the circumferences, body posture analysis, body fat percentage, and assessments of the various other components of the body in different segments. This allows you to track the changes in your total body fat and the amount of muscle over time to help you understand in detail what kind of interventions are needed to improve your body composition. If the lean body mass is greater than the amount of fat in the body, the individual can improve their diet and incorporate a greater amount of fats in it. On the other hand, if the body fat percentage is out of proportion with the lean body mass, the individual can cut down on their diet and make specific changes that allow one to lose weight.
While stepping on a weight scale or looking yourself in the mirror, you may be able to estimate your weight or the proportion of your body fat to the lean mass; however, in order to get accurate measurements of your body composition, you require a tool which is much more advanced like Visbody. Since the diet is found to have the greatest impact on the body composition in the long term, it is often recommended to consult a nutritionist and help them curate a diet that will cater to your specific body composition and help bring out the changes that you require.
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- Mozaffarian, D., & Ludwig, D. S. (2015). The 2015 US Dietary Guidelines: Lifting the Ban on Total Dietary Fat. JAMA, 313(24), 2421–2422.
- Stokes, T., Hector, A. J., Morton, R. W., McGlory, C., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients, 10(2), 180.
- Hijová, E., Bertková, I., & Štofilová, J. (2019). Dietary fibre as prebiotics in nutrition. Central European journal of public health, 27(3), 251–255. https://doi.org/10.21101/cejph.a5313
- Weickert, M. O., & Pfeiffer, A. F. (2008). Metabolic effects of dietary fiber consumption and prevention of Diabetes. The Journal of nutrition, 138(3), 439–442.
- Solah, V. A., Kerr, D. A., Hunt, W. J., Johnson, S. K., Boushey, C. J., Delp, E. J., Meng, X., Gahler, R. J., James, A. P., Mukhtar, A. S., Fenton, H. K., & Wood, S. (2017). Erratum: Effect of Fibre Supplementation on Body Weight and Composition, Frequency of Eating and Dietary Choice in Overweight Individuals Nutrients 2017, 9, 149. Nutrients, 9(4), 409.