10 percent loss of body fat can mean a big change

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

November 09, 2003|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Is it possible to lose 10 percent of one's body fat in a month? If so, is it safe?

Yes, it's definitely possible to safely lose 10 percent in a month. But be aware of what that number means, says Stewart Smith, Annapolis-based author of The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness.

If you begin at 10 percent body fat, losing 10 percent means dropping to 9 percent. On the other hand, if your starting point is 30 percent body fat, you'll need to drop more percentage points (three points, to 27 percent) to reach your goal of 10 percent lost. So if a friend tells you he shaved off five percentage points in a month, realize that this could be equivalent to one percentage point for you.

Why is it that excessive exercise can cause missed periods?

This condition, called exercise-induced amenorrhea, is diagnosed when menstruation has stopped for more than 6 months. Causes include intense, prolonged exercise and low body fat. In short, when your body is heavily stressed it temporarily shuts off your ability to reproduce (figuring you are not prepared to handle pregnancy).

Other factors that can contribute to missed periods include anxiety, drastic weight loss, obesity and certain medications and hormonal supplements. If you are suffering from amenorrhea, you should see a doctor immediately.

What is a meniscus tear?

The meniscus is shock-absorbing cartilage in the joint, and most often refers to the knee. A meniscus tear is a fibrous cartilage rip, often caused by twisting or hyperflexing the joint.

When the injury occurs, it's common to hear a popping sound. This is followed by knee pain (described as "between the bones," where the meniscus is located). Those suffering from a meniscus tear also complain that the joint locks or catches. While surgery is not always necessary, arthroscopy is common (and recommended) for athletes who want to continue competing.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@baltsun.com.

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