Reducing Fat Percentage – 5 month update

Just a quick update and I’m pleased to say I’m still making progress on reducing my fat percentage to Kurzweil approved levels!

Even better news is that I’m doing it without a low fat diet. A big thank you to Gabby McLean at Green Cross Health for pointing out plenty of research which shows that low fat diets can be bad for you – it really is the calories that count:

Here’s my latest trend line – looking like I should be done by July this year –and with no slow down since I stopped the low fat strategy.

reducing fat percentage 5 months update

Reducing Fat Percentage – diet v exercise

I’m slowly reading Ray Kurzweil’s live forever guide Transcend and trying to take action to address any points where I’m outside of his optimal ranges. My key ones are cholesterol and fat percentage which are no doubt related.

None of my friends would regard me as fat or even slightly overweight (they put me in the “lucky you can eat whatever you want” category) – but my body fat percentage is nearly 20%. Ray recommends 10-17% for men and 18-26% for women with the optimal figure at lower end of these ranges. I’m going to aim for middle of my range – 14% –  better to set something achievable and then improve on it rather than fail and get disheartened.

My initial thinking was to go on a lower fat diet as this should help with cholesterol levels too. If I take in less fat then my fat percentage would slowly reduce. It seemed logical. But it took me a little while to ask the basic question – if I reduce my fat percentage, what does that fat convert into? And the only real answer to that is energy – energy that needs to be burned with extra exercise.

How does the body process fat?

How Stuff Works has a nice introduction to how the body creates, stores and uses fat:

Just having a lower fat diet isn’t going to dilute my existing fat – it has to get turned into something else and apart from bones which don’t grow very fast, or clogging up my arteries, that fat will only get used up when the body demands more energy to operate its muscles. I could just burn up the fat but as I’d prefer not to be skinny I’m going to try to maintain my current weight so need to grow those muscles too.

Having said that, it takes about 25% of the energy in glucose to convert it into fat – that’s 10x more energy than storing ingested fat so it’s definitely better to be on a lower fat diet rather than just counting calories.

How long will it take?

Given a weight of about 74 kg that means I started off carrying 14.3 kg of pure fat. To have a fat percentage of 14% that needs to go down to 10.4 kg – i.e. to lose 3.9 kg. An average male eats around 2kg of food per day but just stopping eating for 2 days won’t shift that fat 🙁

Here’s a chart showing my progress to date. I started my low fat diet just before Christmas – not great timing as can be seen in peak fat percentage in the middle of the festive holiday week.

fat percentage diet 3 months

However the good news is that using an Excel trendline I can see I’ve been making steady progress over the last 3 months – that’s on a lower fat diet and 30 minutes of walking a day when I’m not running or at the gym. At that rate I should hit my target percentage in approximately 8 months (total) – not quick but for a body & life changing effect (and only limited self control!) that sounds reasonable.

After my recent revelation that fat can’t just convert into thin air, I’m going to step up my exercise too, so will report back in a couple of months time to see if the rate of fat loss has improved at all.

3 Key Reasons for Having a Massage

Nothing like a good massage after a long week at work, right? It’s relaxing, gets the little aches and pains relieved – but massages are more than simply rubbing oil and a lot of really good hand-work. It actually has carefully studied health benefits that could help us live longer and have a better quality of life.

3 Key Reasons for Having a Massage

Here are the 3 most promising health benefits of massage based on science.

1. Stress Relief

Being a great stress reliever is one of the best things we all love about massages. We know what stress does to our body. Stress is normally fought off by the body but with today’s busy world it seems stressors are just everywhere and we end up accumulating it until it blows up and gives us all sorts of diseases, some of which are fatal. Fortunately, studies show a simple massage can actually provide a lot of relief from stress.

Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy.  Oct 2005 – International Journal of Neuroscience

2. Better Sleep

There’s a joke on how we see getting a good night’s sleep as a form of reward the older we get. It’s funny but it’s actually a lot more realistic when you look at it. The CDC warns of sleep insufficiency as a public health problem and it’s more than simply nodding back and forth during classes or meetings.  People experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.

When you look at it that way, the need for a good shuteye sinks in and when counting sheep stops working science says a good old massage is the answer.

Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Problem – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation (2006) – National Academies

3. Improved immunity

A strong immune system means less chances of acquiring diseases and that could potentially extend our lifespan. It sounds far-fetched but massage can actually improve our immune system. There’s a lot of studies that cover this particular health benefit of massage and most of them all agree that a good massage can make us resist diseases better. One study even says it helps with immune preservation in HIV+ children.

A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals – Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (Oct 2010)
Impact of a massage therapy clinical trial on immune status in young Dominican children infected with HIV-1 – Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (Jul 2006)


Whether you prefer being massaged as a reward or as part of a treatment, the science behind the life-extending benefits of massages cannot be ignored. Luckily there are just about as many health benefits of massaging to the number of massage styles available which should make the experience something to look forward to.