T Nation

Healthy BF%

I’ve been reading this forum a while and much of the discussion seems to focus on cutting and bulking.

There are recommendations on healthy bf% from the “experts” for men I believe this is below 15% or 17%. Should these be ignored? Should we bulk regardless of bf% or should we keep a close eye on it and try to maintain a healthy bf%?

Personally I’m currently sitting at about 19% and wouldn’t feel right being on anything other than a cutting diet due to what I consider to be a high bf%.

Can you clear my confusion please?

Here is an interesting article that may answer your question:

http://www.maxim.co.uk/fitness/asktheexperts/1261/body_fat_can_you_have_too_little.html

It appears that it depends on how you achieve a low BF% rather than the number itself. If you achieve it through starvation then yea you are unhealthy. If you achieve it through athleticism then you are just fit.

lolz

If you eat Healthy foods and lift weights the fat will come off as you build muscle. No need to starve yourself. Cutting and bulking arent the only two methods of body transformation. You don’t need to fly to an extreme end of the spectra to look better.

An often overlooked fact is that for perhaps the first 6-12 months newbies can drop fat AND gain muscle simply by making their diet healthier.

I would ignore any experts recommendation on a healthy BF%. When my BF% is high, it’s because I’m bulking and haven’t decided to cut yet. For the rest of the time, I’m confident I can keep it low enough to not weigh on my heart and organs.

I’ll admit though, this confidence over my physique is newfound. A year ago I would have said the same thing, but shouldn’t have.

[quote]Just Tel wrote:
I’ve been reading this forum a while and much of the discussion seems to focus on cutting and bulking.

There are recommendations on healthy bf% from the “experts” for men I believe this is below 15% or 17%. Should these be ignored? Should we bulk regardless of bf% or should we keep a close eye on it and try to maintain a healthy bf%?

Personally I’m currently sitting at about 19% and wouldn’t feel right being on anything other than a cutting diet due to what I consider to be a high bf%.

Can you clear my confusion please?
[/quote]

Many posts focus on ‘bulking’ or ‘cutting’ because this is the beginners’ section and many people who post here are in fact beginners and thus have a very limited understanding of the whole concept of wight training.

in 95% of the cases the correct answer is neither ‘bulk’ nor ‘cut’, but simply ‘eat right and train hard’, because everything else will take care of itself.

I was informed, when I went for a physiology exam, that for men it was 12-18% and for women 15-22%.

If your relating to averages, check this BMI - Norms table and according to your height and weight this should be your bodyfat to be healthy.

http://www.consumer.gov/weightloss/bmi.htm

[quote]Otep wrote:

I’ll admit though, this confidence over my physique is newfound. A year ago I would have said the same thing, but shouldn’t have.[/quote]

Is this a way of saying “I look so awesome right now”? Looking at your current lifts, I would imagine that with a low BF% you would be formidable.

[quote]Petrichor wrote:
Many posts focus on ‘bulking’ or ‘cutting’ because this is the beginners’ section and many people who post here are in fact beginners and thus have a very limited understanding of the whole concept of wight training.
[/quote]

On the contrary. I have not restricted my reading to only the beginners forum, the should I bulk or cut comment regularly comes up. But as you say I am but a newbie and my “understanding of the whole concept of wight training” does appear to be naive cos a lot of the experience guys just look fat!

[quote]Just Tel wrote:
But as you say I am but a newbie and my “understanding of the whole concept of wight training” does appear to be naive cos a lot of the experience guys just look fat!

[/quote]

Uh-oh, here we go.

[quote]njrusmc wrote:
Otep wrote:

I’ll admit though, this confidence over my physique is newfound. A year ago I would have said the same thing, but shouldn’t have.

Is this a way of saying “I look so awesome right now”? Looking at your current lifts, I would imagine that with a low BF% you would be formidable.[/quote]

So, I wrote out this response, that was intelligent and cogent, and was an awesome hijack of the thread. But really, I’ll be finished and have pics soon enough, so I’ll save off bragging and all that for a little while longer.

It’s actually not even that great. I won’t have abs. I’ll be around ~14%, and probably 215. But it’ll be the best shape I’ve ever been in, and that’s pretty good progress, considering the only person I’m really competing against is me.

OTOH, that’s just what losers tell themselves.

[quote]
Otep wrote:
It’s actually not even that great. I won’t have abs. I’ll be around ~14%, and probably 215. But it’ll be the best shape I’ve ever been in, and that’s pretty good progress, considering the only person I’m really competing against is me.

OTOH, that’s just what losers tell themselves.[/quote]

well said…

[quote]Just Tel wrote:
I’ve been reading this forum a while and much of the discussion seems to focus on cutting and bulking.

There are recommendations on healthy bf% from the “experts” for men I believe this is below 15% or 17%. Should these be ignored? Should we bulk regardless of bf% or should we keep a close eye on it and try to maintain a healthy bf%?

Personally I’m currently sitting at about 19% and wouldn’t feel right being on anything other than a cutting diet due to what I consider to be a high bf%.

Can you clear my confusion please?
[/quote]

What are your goals?
Gain weight, strength
Looose weight?

what?

Tell T-Nation and we can only steer you in the right direction; you have to drive.

(oh so deep am i)

I suppose it depends on your goals. I started by trying to cut calories, yeah, it worked, but not that well. When I started eating more and being able to through more into my lifts, I started dropping fat like no one’s business.

Yes, I’m still in the “newbie gains” stage of the game, but in the last four months I was able to drop ~13% body fat. My first month I dropped 20 pounds but not much BF (which IS unhealthy), and in the last 3 I’ve GAINED 11 pounds back, but lost my largest chunk of BF.

I’m sitting around ~16%, but I still consider myself “fat” and “unhealthy.” But, I met some amatuer powerlifters in my area, and aside from me not being anywhere near as strong as they are (yet), I’m right around the body type they are, so I don’t feel so bad about myself anymore.

So, long story short (too late?), it depends on your goals.

Otep said it straight. Screw the abs, even if you don’t have the shredded separation between individual muscles, I would kill for your lift numbers. You can see my abs in my pictures, as well as some separation in my quads (not in the pics, but right now I have it). Only because I am lean, not because I am yoked.

[quote]echelon101 wrote:
I was informed, when I went for a physiology exam, that for men it was 12-18% and for women 15-22%.[/quote]

Boy these are awfully general guidelines, but I sure wouldn’t go by them. Why? Because I know what I look and feel like @ 18% BF, and don’t consider that healthy (for myself) at all!

The key is, staying withing these guidelines if you so choose, to find a BF % that you operate well at, feel good at, and look good at (if that’s your goal). For me, 10%'ish is about right - as much psychologically as physically.

Don’t buy into the hogwash that this BF% is healthy, and that is not. If you have a specific goal, let BF% be a tool to indicate progress, not as to define whether you are ‘healthy’ or not. Obviously, if you are overweight/high BMI (another VERY GENERAL measuring tool)/etc., then you should consider cleaning up your diet and moving your ass. But, generally speaking, BF% should not be taken is THE ONLY indicator of general health.

[quote]B rocK wrote:
What are your goals?
Gain weight, strength
Looose weight?

what?

Tell T-Nation and we can only steer you in the right direction; you have to drive.

(oh so deep am i)
[/quote]

Deep indeed. But my question isn’t regarding my own development, I have set my goals and am (hopefully) on my way. Its a general question regarding maintaining a healthy BF%.

Like has been said I guess it depends on what your goals are. Personally I prefer the fitness model look (does that mean I “fail”) rather than the grotesquely huge, freaks of the bodybuilding stage. So my goal is to achieve a lowish bodyfat % and keep it within a range depending on whether I am bulking or cutting.

It appears that quite a few people bulk and disregard their bf% resulting in fat lifter syndrome and yo yo weight loss/ gain. It’s everything we’re told not to do by ‘them’.

Surely one of the advantages of lifting is the healthy lifestyle that it encourages us to live but do we sacrifice our health in pursuit of appearance, strength or both?

if western society has proved one thing it’s that the public and anyone who claims themselves as an “expert” (especially the likes of dieticians and nutrionists) have no damn idea of what is actually healthy

before you reply with “yes they do” i’ll reply with their wisdom “your diet should consist of lots of whole grains with low fat and minimal protein”