Calories are units of energy that the body uses as fuel. Food and beverages (apart from water, black coffee and tea, and diet drinks) contain calories. The human body burns a certain amount of calories through physical activity and also simply by being alive – the beating of the heart, activity of the brain and nervous system, and general body processes all require energy.
When we take in more calories than we burn, our body stores the excess calories in fat cells. Essentially, body fat is stored energy. But how exactly do body fat and energy levels relate to one another? Does having more body fat mean more energy? Read on to learn more about how body fat percentage can influence energy levels.
Body fat percentage is the percentage of a person’s body mass that is composed of fat. There are six types of body fat:
A healthy body fat percentage for females younger than 50 is between 14% and 20%. For females over aged 50, a healthy body fat percentage is between 8% and 27%.
A healthy body fat percentage for males younger than 50 is between 8% and 18%. For males aged over 50, a healthy body fat percentage is between 8% and 22%.
Having a healthy body fat percentage means you have a better chance of being in good physical and psychological health.
If your body fat percentage is too high, you will have an increased risk of:
If your body fat percentage is too low, you will have an increased risk of:
There are myriad different factors that affect energy levels. Some of the main ones include:
Research suggests that energy expenditure is higher in people with a higher body fat percentage. This is because individuals with a high body fat percentage tend to spend more energy performing activities as a consequence of higher weight burden. Further research suggests that people with a high body fat percentage “experience fatigue and decreased physical endurance that indicates diminished energy supply in the body”.
This shows that people with a higher body fat percentage require more energy to power their bodies, while at the same time also having a diminished energy supply. In turn, this indicates that people with a higher body fat percentage may feel less energetic than people with a lower body fat percentage.
Research suggests that people can have a high body fat percentage for various reasons, including metabolic events that disturb energy metabolism. These metabolic events cause diminished energy supply and result in people having lower energy levels as the body attempts to save energy to sustain metabolic functioning.
A person with a higher body weight will have higher energy requirements because more energy is required to perform activities as a consequence of the higher weight burden.
More body fat means that a person is literally carrying around a source of energy in the form of body fat. However, carrying this extra weight will tend to make a person tired because they must expend more energy to move their body, and because their excess body fat is caused, in part, by metabolic events that cause the body to overeat and to have a diminished energy supply.
Having an unhealthily low amount of body fat can adversely affect energy levels. Research on bodybuilders who were in contest preparation and whose body fat percentage had dipped below 5% showed that they experienced a decrease in strength and decreased testosterone levels while at these low body fat percentages. Both decreased strength and decreased testosterone levels can have a negative effect on energy levels.
As we’ve seen, people with an unhealthily high or an unhealthily low level of body fat are likely to experience reduced levels of energy. We can conclude that to give yourself the best chance of having high energy levels, you should strive to maintain a healthy body fat percentage.
You can optimize body fat percentage through the following methods: