Women tend to have more fat than men. First of all, they have their chest and hips. If you are like me, you tend to think this is how it ought to be, and that a woman does not have to be straight or pencil-thin to be healthy. Women probably have developed an extra layer of fat than men to protect a growing fetus.
Actually, one cannot tell by looking at someone if they are fit. Think of all of those athletes that have had heart problems at what you think is their utmost shape. One has to get a medical examination and perhaps take radiological tests to really know how healthy they are. They can also look at family history, strength, endurance, flexibility and more.
If a woman (or man) is healthy and fit at a certain weight and they go from say, 120 pounds to 140 pounds, while they still workout, it does not necessarily mean they are now not as fit. First of all, muscle is much more dense than fat, so that, by volume, it seems to weigh more. That is, a pound of muscle occupies less space than a pound of fat. So it can just mean that they gained muscle! An extra inch of fat here and there does not mean that a person is out of shape or obese.
Fat is a nutrient, just like carbohydrates and protein. At nine calories per gram, it supplies more calories per gram than the other two proteins. Fat is essential for the body. It provides the “essential” fatty acids. These are not made by the body and must be obtained from food. Linoleic acid is the most important essential fatty acid. Among other things, it assists in the growth and development of infants. From fatty acids are made the molecules that are essential in the control of blood pressure, blood clotting, inflammation, and other body functions. Fat stores vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat maintains healthy skin and hair. It insulates nerve cells and helps in proper nerve functioning. It surrounds and cushions our organs, protecting them from damage. It serves as the storage substance for the body’s extra calories. It insulates us against cold and against falls. (I suggest forcing yourself to sit if you are about to fall, if you have some cushioning!) Fat is the energy source your body turns to after carbohydrate calories are used, which is after about 20 minutes of exercise.
There appears to be a phobia of fat in the world. Often, what we resist persists. Each person has to find a range of body fat percent that suits them, in which they are healthy and fit, and feel great. This does not mean to be pencil thin. For some people, it is genetic to be very thin and they are healthy and look great that way as well. I believe that for most people, being very thin is not necessarily healthy. This does not mean to eat junk food all day and marry the couch. The middle road is usually the best.
Women usually bear the brunt of skinny fads. For now, educate yourselves on health and on your bodies. Do not be lazy, but do not be a diet or exercise fanatic either!