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Questions About Fat

America is obsessed with fat. But with so much contradictory information out there about it, many people are confused.

Medical Contributor Dr. Mallika Marshall visits The Early Show to offer answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about fat:

Do You Need Fat In Your Diet?

Absolutely, you're body needs fat to function. You just have to make sure to keep it in check. The American Heart Association says that no more than 30 percent of the calories you consume each day should come from fat - even less if you can help it. And when eating fats, make sure it's the so-called good fats like those that come in foods such as nuts, fish, avocados and olive oil.

What Are The Best Exercises To Help You Drop Fat?

Almost any exercise can help you lose fat. But you want to choose exercises that help you lose fat efficiently. So you are going to want to pick any exercise that gets your heart running fast such as jogging, biking or swimming. Another way to help lose fat is to do strength-training exercises. When you replace muscle with fat, you also increase your metabolism level, which is the rate at which your body burns energy.

Can You Be Thin But Have Too Much Body Fat?

Yes, it is in fact possible to be thin but have too much body fat. And this excess fat can lead to serious health problems including heart disease and some kinds of cancer. No more than 25 percent of your total body weight should come from fat. If you think you may have too much body fat, ask your doctor to do a skin fold test.

Can Drinking Water Help You Lose Fat?

There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that drinking lots of water will help you lose fat. What it may do is curb your hunger slightly and you may eat a little less, but water will in no way help melt pounds away.

If Your Parents Are Heavy, Are You Destined To Be Heavy?

There are some studies, which suggest that heredity does seem to play a role in whether you will be heavy. That said just because it's in your genes, it doesn't mean your doomed to be overweight. There are many life style choices you can make including proper diet and exercise, which can help keep your weight under control.

Can Stress Make You Fat?

Stress can cause you to crave comfort foods, which often contain high amounts of fats and carbohydrates. And also, when women are stressed they tend to store fat in their midsections. So if you are constantly stressed and notice that you are gaining weight, try doing things like yoga or meditation.

Where Is The Easiest Place On The Body To Lose Fat?

That really depends on your body type. Women who are pear-shaped tend to lose a little bit of weight all over and then the weight will begin to come off more noticeably on the hips and thighs. And apple-shaped women tend to lose weight faster in the thighs, and the stomach will probably be the final place to see any noticeable loss.

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