Super healthy vs super skinny

If you’ve been following Nuush for a while I hope you’ve strongly picked up the vibe that we are about health rather than getting people super-skinny or encouraging six-pack formation!

I use a well-recognised formula to recommend weight goals and I use it alongside conversations with the individual looking at their weight history and agreeing on something that they are going to be comfortable with and find easy to maintain. That might not always fit ‘the book’ but real life often doesn’t.

Better health is the goal

My goal is not to produce a band of very thin* people but to create better health in people, and that includes mental health around eating, exercise and weighing yourself. If weighing yourself works for you then we will support and educate you in that but our ultimate aim is for you to live scale-free. I don’t weigh myself, I know if I’m fatter or thinner and I just adjust food and exercise til I feel right again.

*I make no judgement on natural body types here, we come in all shapes and sizes, from very slim to naturally larger. The term ‘super skinny’ is just to reflect the media and social media push to be a small size. I find the term ‘thin privilege’, used by the anti-diet movement, to be offensive.

Weighing yourself, if *you* want to (absolutely key point) can be a way of giving you some personal accountability and can be a good bench-mark setter and motivator for *some* people. For others it can work the other way, which is why Nuush provides choice, aways but with the overarching aim that you don’t have to own a set of scales. Personal choice is vital in diet and in weight matters, as in plenty of other matters.

We go for the sweet spot

Very low weights in women, i.e. below the lowest point of the weight/height formula that I use, tend not to be optimally supportive of health, particularly bone and hormonal health. On the other hand high levels of body fat (in both sexes) have been shown not to support the best health either, in terms of metabolic and hormone health as well as disease propensity.

When overweight people lose body fat disease incidence among the group reduces, as shown by Lundegaard-Haase et al (2021). That’s not a popular thing to say in some circles but there is a lot of robust evidence to uphold it. But, and there is always a but, overweight and obesity don’t always lead to disease, there are metabolically healthy overweight and obese individuals just as there are metabolically unhealthy slimmer people who carry less fat.

So we go for a sweet spot and alongside that comes activity to build a strong body with muscles that see you doing well into older age – so many older people lose muscle and become frail and with that comes falls, bone breakage and immobility. I like to see strong, robust and healthy bodies coming out of the other side of Nuush as well as healthy minds and an enjoyment of a wide range of food.

Personal choice

A note here about personal choice again. It’s valid to want to lose weight for all sorts of reasons, it’s also valid to not want to. If someone is carrying excess fat and wants to lose it because they feel it makes them look better and/or makes them feel healthier and more energetic, we support that. How we look can be important to us and is hardwired into us as a species. Just as people choose certain hairstyles, clothes, shoes, whether to have a tattoo or not or have their ears pierced (often to do with image rather than function) they can also choose whether to lose or gain weight. We are here to help them to do it sustainably and in a way that gives them optimum nutrition. If someone isn’t concerned with weight loss but wants a better relationship with food or to be better nourished we support that just as strongly.

If you look at the pic of me below – you can see that I’m not flashing a six pack, I have a reasonable covering of fat. By the way, if you have a six pack and want to flash it, bring it on! In the past I have been way way too low in fat (for me) at 17.5%, when running lots, and it was not at all healthy for me; my health definitely suffered as a result. I now aim to sit at a higher and healthier fat percentage alongside regular exercise and of course good nutrition.

Males can go very low on fat percentage and not suffer many detrimental effects, as low as 4% is OK and you’ll see that a lot of competitive and elite athletes sit in this range but it’s not easy and takes a fair amount of sustaining, but for non-athletic men about 14-17% is a good healthy range. Visceral fat (the stuff that sits around your vital organs) is more key, a percentage of around 4-6% is a good aim in order to protect your organs and help them to function at their best.

Sometimes people who are very low in weight can still show a higher fat percentage if they don’t do much exercise or their diet composition is unbalanced.

Once again it’s good all-round health – nourish and move, restore and connect. And personal choice…

References
Lundegaard-Haase et al (2021) Weight loss and risk reduction of obesity-related outcomes in 0.5 million people: evidence from a UK primary care database. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41366-021-00788-4. Accessed 4 January 2022)

Thank you for reading this article. Please note that while we share a lot of awesome information and research you should be aware our articles are strictly for informational purposes and do not constitute medical advice intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.

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