Tuesday Tip: Ideal Body Fat %? 🤔
I’m often asked what the ideal body fat percentage should be. You’ll hear various numbers mentioned from anything between 10 -25% for men and 20-30% for women.
A recent study showed that the lowest risk of mortality (from all causes) was associated with a 22% BF in men and 30% in women. So what is the ‘ideal’ body fat?
Firstly it’s important to note that there’s no completely accurate way of determining BF% – all the various methods are essentially estimates of varying quality – be it from hi tech scales, body scans or callipers. Some will vary depending on hydration and food content in the gut too (notably the scales). They just give a relative measure- which is fine if you’re using it to gauge progress and measure change, but isn’t something to get too hung up on in terms of the specific value.
Also importantly genetics controls your fat distribution and level- different people have different numbers of fat cells and a tendency to carry more or less fat. The same BF% can look very different on different people.
Finally fat plays an important role in our metabolism – too much or too little can negatively impact health. A high BF% can increase the risk of chronic disease and cardio- metabolic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease. A low BF% isn’t a good thing either as it can impair hormone production, suppress your immune system, make you more prone to injury, affect your performance, energy levels and your relationship with food.
Balance is key – you don’t want to carry too much fat but nor should you be trying to be ‘shredded’ all the time either. So the ideal BF% is highly individual. Essentially you want a BF% which allows you to enjoy your lifestyle and remain healthy. So it should be within or close to the healthy ranges for men (I usually suggest <30 % for women and <25% for men as a starting point) but not so low that it’s impossible to maintain without being overly restrictive with your eating. Being lean isn’t a bad thing. But for most people, you can be healthy without a visible six pack and even if you did have a six pack
it doesn’t always equate to being healthier
Regardless of what your BF% is, you should focus on things that actually improve your health, such as exercise, sleeping well, having a diet filled with a range of food types including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and ‘enjoyment’ foods like ‘junk’ food in moderation , etc.
Happy Tuesday 🤗xx