T Nation

13% Body Fat Brick Wall


Hi all,

Long time reader, just registered.

Probably seems like a high percentage to be hitting a brick wall at, but it's 13% for me.

I have been hovering between 13-15% for the past 6 months.

I'm 6'0 and 193 pounds. Goal - maintenance of current body weight (no lower than 187 pounds) and drop body fat toward 10-11%.

I got body fat measured 10 days ago at 13.1% (by a Poliquin biosig practitioner) - trained my ass off for ten days 2 strongman sessions, 5 heavy weight sessions, 2 HIIT sessions, 1 cardio session. I got measured again today and had dropped a pathetic 0.1% (or maybe nothing considering margin of error in measurement). I was getting 200g protein plus per day, post workout shakes, all supplements (fish oils, zma, creatine, carnitine, vitamin d, glutamine in) and loads of sleep.

I just have a few questions as at this stage I am missing something big.

  1. I have been focusing on just total protein content per day and have been aiming to get 200g per day. Do I need to get more meticulous on measuring macronutrient ratio, start counting calories, etc?

Currently I'm probably hitting about 40% protein, 40% fat, 20% carb. 3000-3500 calories per day (not great at recording these exactly)

  1. Is it deleterious to rely too much on whey protein shakes to hit protein daily target? I do eat alot of decent meat protein but recently started taking a protein shake along with 35g protein from food for breakfast. Also I recently started taking protein shake pre workout. Is this causing insulin spike, do I have too much body fat to tolerate these shakes?

  2. Would appreciate any help on anything obvious I might be missing.



Youre at a fat loss plateau, dont count calories or macro ratio, and are asking if you SHOULD start doing that?

Im going to go with a "yes" for that.


Up 10 pounds lean muscle mass from this time 6 months ago. Getting alot stronger with my lifts, chins ,etc. That was satisfying until now and naively thought just sticking to paleo diet, meeting protein requirement, satisfying appetite and getting training sessions in was sufficient.

Ill get down to the calorie counting now which I always thought was extreme but I guess it's commonplace around here and what has to be done.


Essentially, weight lost or gained comes down to whether you are consuming less or more calories than you burn.

Once you get a handle on these numbers you can start to go by feel. But the only way to get a handle on how many calories you consume and burn is to count them, initially.


193 @ 6ft & 13%? I'd say forget the cut; lower fats, increase carbs slightly, and keep busting your ass in the gym.
Start a food log, or if you've got a smartphone d/l a food tracker app (i use MyNetDiary), pretty nifty and easy seeing how i almost always have my phone on me. Like Bonez said, initially counting will be important, soon you'll get the feel for how much of what you've eaten and how that relates to macros. John Berardi has a cool way to calculate approximate calorie intake needed to lose/gain weight on his website under the articles/nutrition tab


Thanks for the advice.


Any particular reason you want to weigh around 190? Just curious, seems like that's selling yourself short to an extent if you've got a 6' frame.

Definitely log macros and cals as the other guys mentioned. It's much easier to make tweaks if you have a good feel for where you are.


Yeah probably is light, especially around here! My current weight is actually the heaviest Ive ever been. 2 years ago I was 78 kilo or 170 pounds. Im happy that Ive made some progress but along way from where I want to be.

I just have it in my head that if I get down a couple of per cent lower I can start concentrating more on gaining lean muscle mass. Maybe Im wrong but I read something about insulin sensitivity for post workout carbs getting into muscle being better when you're leaner, and ability to tolerate carbs in general better when leaner.

Have a bad habit also of changing goal. One week Im looking to gain weight , then a few weeks later Im looking to drop body fat.

Also always reading articles on different lifts, exercise regimes, hormones , etc. But thats probably getting into minuta and taking eye off the obvious of just monitoring calorie intake and macronutrients (as pointed out on the thread to me)

Absolute ideal world for me would be 210 pounds and around 11/12% body fat.


So true i look tiny at 6' 195. No idea what my bf is. Probably not too low. But if you are worried about controling BF and want to get a bit lower before gaining again 3000-3500 cals is too high obviously as your weight and BF are un changed. Trying doing a couple days lower cals/carb (non training days if you have then) this will help create a weekly deficiet which wont be big but doesnt sound like you want a large one.


Thanks for the details. If you're ok with being heavier than 190, I'd say that trying to gain lean muscle might not be a bad idea. Gaining muscle without going crazy and dirty bulking can be tricky, and that's where getting a good read on macros can help.

I'd suggest keeping things the same for at least a week but really measuring all the stuff you're eating and getting a solid cal/macro count. After you have that down, you can start trying to make tweaks and adding a bit of carbs/fats/cals/whatever (or decreasing if you still want to go for leaning out first). You've got to learn how your body deals with different amounts of calories and macros, so that's where recording becomes helpful. Measuring nutrient intake will help you learn how high you can push stuff like carbs without seeing negatives, and also how low you need to take carbs or calories to see good fat loss.

I know I'm not giving much in the way of specifics, but nutrition can be very individual and it's important to learn how your body works so you can maximize gains or fat loss. Hope this is somewhat useful anyway.