What Does Overfat Mean?

January 16, 2018

How Can We Tell if We Are Overfat?

By Dr. Harry Oken, M.D.

Changes in lifestyle have led to 70-90% of us having too much fat; we are overfat. Even if we may have a normal body mass index or our hip-to-waist ratio is within normal limits or the scale tells us we are at our high school weight, we may still be overfat.

The journal article available at the link below discusses a large segment of the developed world:


So what happens if we are overfat?

Essentially this condition sets us up for increased risk of a whole host of problems, as shown below by this diagram from the article.

How can we tell if we are overfat?

If two times your waist measurement is greater than your height, you are overfat.

Citation for both diagrams: Front. Public Health, 24 July 2017 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2017.00190

Wow! Here he goes again! It just seems impossible to lose weight and now he is telling us almost all of us need to do something.

That’s right; it’s an ongoing maintenance project for all us. It never stops. Being healthy is all about moderation and lifestyle, and focusing onThe Big Four.

The Big Four, listed below, strengthen your immune system. And if your immune system is healthy, you are tipping the scale, so to speak, toward aging gracefully rather than decaying as you age. You will be more resistant to cancer, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory illness.

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Healthy sleep
  • Controlling emotional stress

Getting healthy is more than 80 percent determined by what you eat. The core therapy for cholesterol management and many other issues such as blood sugar, blood pressure, gout, sleep apnea and pain associated with osteoarthritis, is attaining a weight that is healthy for you. Often, a small reduction in weight (just 10-15 pounds) will translate into a remarkable improvement in health. A decrease in weight of only a single pound unloads four pounds/square inch on your weight-bearing joints, including the lower back.

Attaining and maintaining a healthy weight is a constant process of making adjustments. It is a challenging process. Perhaps the most significant obstacle is that your brain’s pleasure center is continuously demanding you to seek and eat calorie-dense foods. This mechanism evolved for prehistoric humans to avoid famine. Today, food is abundant, and food technology has created unhealthy but alluring foods full of white flour, sugar, salt and bad fat — everything the pleasure center craves. And the more we eat these easily stored dense caloric foods, the more we strengthen the pleasure center’s hold on us.

However, we can reset the pleasure center. It takes hard work and discipline, but in days to weeks, we can tame the beast. Lifestyle changes can modify the neurological networks and inhibit our cravings for unhealthy foods.

Here are a few tips to healthy eating:

  • Eat in a low glycemic fashion, keeping daily carbohydrate intake to less than 50-60 grams/day. This can be liberalized once the craving center of the brain calms down.
  • Minimize gluten-based white flour foods such as pasta, cereal and bread, as well as other complex starches such as rice, and corn- and potato-based foods.
  • Eat a predominantly plant-based diet. Try to get at least five servings of vegetables and appropriate serving sizes of fruit.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of dried fruit (although nutritious, we tend to eat more than we should). A small box of raisins is the equivalent of a whole bunch of grapes! I could eat four prunes, but I would never have four plums!
  • Avoid concentrated carbohydrates such as candy, cookies, cake, pudding, ice cream, juices, etc.
  • Avoid soda, which is liquid candy.
  • Eat good fat; it is filling and will not elevate your insulin levels. Examples of good fats include avocados, nuts, nut butter, olives, and healthy oils such as olive and coconut.
  • Ingest the correct amount of protein for your ideal body lean weight — 0.5 grams of protein per pound per day of your ideal body lean weight.
  • Keep a food diary, or use a cell phone app such as “Lose It! Calorie Counter ” or “Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal” to track your daily intake. We all eat more than we think.

Exercise and restorative sleep also help to maintain and restore your immune system and control stress. During the day, try to minimize your sitting. Get up every hour and walk around, or do some stretching, lunges or squats. Work standing up if you can. Try to walk 10,000 steps every day. In addition to cardiovascular exercise two-three times per week, consider adding stretching and weight training two times per week.

Want to learn more? Want to do something about being overfat, or if you’re not overfat, just want to get yourself in better shape?

Consider joining BOOM — which stands for Boost Our Own Metabolism — a program that I developed that teaches critical nutritional points and provides tips for improving sleep and stress levels.

The next session of BOOM begins on Wednesday, Jan. 24 and runs until May 23, Each class runs from 7:15-8am in the cycling studio at the Columbia Athletic Club. We spin on the studio bikes to music using a High-Intensity Interval Training format.

My assistant, Stacey, will once again be leading the spin portion, and this is preceded by my brief talk on the topic of the week. If you’re unsure whether you are healthy enough to participate, please send me an email and I can let you know if BOOM is right for you

Here is a video about BOOM https://youtu.be/kbnhzxjN3YE if you have any questions (please note that the details regarding days and dates in the video do not pertain to this upcoming session).

Here are registration instructions:

Columbia Association members: there is no charge. Sign up online through CA’s website or app beginning at 2pm on Mondays before the first class on Jan. 24. Or call Columbia Athletic Club starting 2pm on Tuesdays.

Non-members: Sessions are purchased as follows:

Jan. 24 through Feb. 28 — 6 classes/$60 total

March-May — Four classes per month/$40 per month

Registration and payment can be made in person at the front desk of Columbia Athletic Club or by calling 410-730-6744. Please note that payment must be made for an entire month; there are no pro-rated or partial refunds.

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