90 percent of men, 80 percent of women
So many people are “over fat” according to a recent study. That is, statistically, YOU are over fat. And that over-fatness can lead to cardiometabolic dysfunction and a whole host of chronic diseases that will kill you until you are dead.
But wait, what exactly does “excess fat” mean? Think of this as a new category on the body fat continuum:
- Normal weight
- Over fat (the new category)
- Morbidly overweight
The problem? “Normal weight” and the latter three categorizations of fatness are typically measured using the BMI scale. As you know, this is a simplistic formula based on height and weight. It doesn̵
The last bit is important. First, the storage of fat in the abdominal area is much worse for your health than storing it elsewhere.
Second, the BMI tells you nothing about visceral adipose tissue and subcutaneous adipose tissue. Visceral fat is stored in the abdominal cavity and around your internal organs. This is the stuff that is most likely to cause insulin resistance and generally dies in a number of nasty ways.
Subcutaneous fat is the wobbly stuff just under your skin. It’s less dangerous, but definitely gross when it hits the droopy level.
Australian health expert Philip Maffetone and his researchers believe that a person who is not obese or even overweight (as measured by BMI) can still have an unhealthy amount of body fat – especially in the abdominal area. This overfat is either a sign of growing health problems or at least a predictor of future health problems.
They think we should just get rid of the confusing BMI scale and use something else. Your method is quick, simple, and is likely to hurt your feelings.
Measure your stomach
Here is the Maffetone method in a nutshell:
That’s it. Strict? You bet, but their research is pretty compelling if you want to dive deep into the study.
Wait, am I over fat?
You want to know don’t you? I really did. To help you break down this operational greasiness test, I’ll take as an example:
- How Tall Am I? I’m 5’11 “. That’s 71 inches. Half of that is 35.5.
- What’s my waist size? Well, even though Maffetone uses the term “waist”, he really means “belly”. The measurement should be made over the navel area. Your pants size is not your waist size in this regard. Here is the diagram Maffetone uses:
My jeans size is 32, but my stomach measurement is 34. That’s the number we want. So take out the tape measure, don’t suck your bowels and do the deed.
3. Now look back at the definition of excess fat: “If your waist is more than half your height, you are excessively fat.”
My 34-inch stomach measurement is no more than half my height – 35.5 inches. So I’m not over fat.
How do I use this info
Okay, I’m not over fat … but damn it, that seemed close, didn’t it? For reference, I have abdominal muscles visible right now. No dehydrated bodybuilder abs on stage, but pretty good. Maybe this test is a little too hard? Or is that just rationalizing?
In either case, the Maffetone Method made me step back and think. And thinking is always good.
The researchers here are focused on preventing heart disease, the 13 cancers associated with excess fat, type 2 diabetes, and so on. They deal with longevity and quality of life. Your test appears to be rigorous, but it is ultimately more reliable than BMI and more realistic for athletes. It’s easy to do at home too.
I probably won’t freak out if I go for a short-term bulk phase and my numbers start tapping just a smidge in the other direction. But I definitely won’t stay in the excess fat zone for long.
The research is pretty clear: excess fat stored in and around your belly is bad news in the long run, even if you aren’t “overweight” by traditional standards.
Related: An Easy Way to Beat Belly Fat
Related: The Velocity Diet
- Maffetone et al. “Over-Fat Adults and Children in Developed Countries: The Importance of Identifying Excess Body Fat to Public Health,” Frontiers in Public Health, 2017.