programs gym photos nutrition videos

Why Do We Have Fat On Our Bodies?

As a fitness coach we often have conversations with potential and active clients about fat.

Its not uncommon when assessing what a new client wants out of an exercise program that we discover they want to loose fat.  This comes in many different forms. Here a few examples:

There is the squeamish person who are judging themselves as vain because they want to want to loose weight.  Usually they display some body language when the topic comes up.  They look down at the floor, pretend to kick a pebble, turn a little red. I often have to end up finishing their sentence for them.  Always a sense of relief on their face after accompanied by collective joyous laughter. 

Then there is the straight up person that says "I want to look better naked".  I usually agree with them and say we all want to look good in a thong.

A nuanced version of this is the person who comes in wanting to get "Revenge Hot".  They have just gone through a tough relationship and break up.  They want to get lean and fit and shove it in their ex's face.  These people are usually highly motivated. 

I could go on and on...


Growing up and into my 20s I wrestled.  For much of this time I had to watch my weight.  This generally wasn't a problem as I was a very skinny.  However, when my natural weight was well above a weight class and well below the next higher weight class I had to cut weight.  This was difficult as I didn't have much fat on me.  I had to loose water weight before the weigh in.  On goes the garbage bag and up goes the workout intensity.  Ugh. 

Now I wouldn't trade my wrestling experiences for anything.  I grew not only as an athlete but as a human being with all the adversities and triumphs along that path. However, I wouldn't be lying if I said one of the after effects was a bit of a twisted body image - Especially about fat.

 So if you are reading this and think you are alone when you look at your fat and feel bad... You are not.


Recently I found this short documentary named "A Brief History of Fat and Why We Hate It". It was created by Science Communication Lab. "Excellent Science needs excellent design. The Science Communication Lab specializes in developing innovation visual communication for the sciences and for complex, explanation intensive projects and products".  Check out their website here.


The documentary outlines exactly what fat is and why we have it on our bodies.

Bruce Spiegelman, Cell Biologist, Harvard University:

  • "We can go quite a long time without food.  Much longer than some other animals can. Fat really gave us a big advantage in terms of beginning to colonize hostile environments".

Daniel Lieberman, Evolutionary Biologist, Harvard University:

  • "We have a general cultural abhorrence for fat today, which is a very recent trend."
  • "As an evolutionary biologist I've come to appreciate that without fat we would be dead.  Humans wouldn't be the way we are.  Fat is really life."
  • "Fat is important to all animals but humans are especially adapted to be fat. Even thin humans who have very little fat on them, by our perspective, are extremely fat compared to most other primates".

Other topics covered:

  • The Krebs cycle
  • The discovery of Leptin
  • The uniqueness of human childhood
  • Worldwide diabetes epidemic
  • How we got to where we are

This is perhaps my favorite quote from the film:

  • "We mustn't confuse fat, which is generally a healthy and important and necessary nutrient, with diseases that come with too much fat".


Watch the whole video here on YouTube.

Please give it a watch.  Let us know your thoughts.