T Nation

Ripped Abs - Are They Worth It?


#1

At the risk of what initially sounds like an off putting title, a somewhat recent article in the online version of Men’s Health (entitled, “6 Guys With Ripped Abs Tell You Why It’s Not Worth It”) really got me pondering: Are highly defined abs a worthwhile fitness priority, or simply just too much effort to obtain and maintain year round, for the average person struggling to stay very lean and athletic?

Note: I should clarify here that, since this is predominantly a bodybuilding website, that I’m not referring to contest prep contestants and what must be done, from a conditioning standpoint, to place for those people who compete. I’m specifically referring to the non competitor, or the individual who uses training, diet and lifestyle to build and maintain a healthy and aesthetic physique.

And I ask because, while I have been there and achieved that look, it took considerable time, effort and extremely tight dieting (for many months) to get that lean and achieve that level of conditioning. Furthermore, maintaining proved to be a bigger challenge; counting carbs and calories where still very much required to stay at that level. While none of this proved to be a burden, to either my personal or professional life, I did sometimes question why I wanted it so much in the first place, and was it really worth pursuing this particular goal at the expense of others. Anyone else out there seriously think about this and question themselves during a cut? Just wondering.


#2

[quote]

Anyone else out there seriously think about this and question themselves during a cut? Just wondering.[/quote]

No


#3

Not worth my time.

I sit around 14-15% body fat year round, and feel great. There, I can eat whatever I want, drink a beer with my dinner, I have great energy all day long, my training and strength are awesome, I recover very well, sleep great-- and still feel very athletic. I don’t have to think about what, when, and where I eat. I can live my life, eat great food, train, and get on with everything else.


#4

its worth it to me. I love being as lean as I am now and almost feel sad when I cant clearly see ab and quad veins. But, with that I pride my self on being a very ean and strong powerlifter. While I still have to monitor my food intake and calories it isnt that hard and as long as I keep my cheat meals to basically 2 a week I have absolutely no issue. Plus I enjoy eating clean “bro” food but, I also am a pretty good cook which makes it much more bearable.


#5

[quote]MikeManos wrote:
At the risk of what initially sounds like an off putting title, a somewhat recent article in the online version of Men’s Health (entitled, “6 Guys With Ripped Abs Tell You Why It’s Not Worth It”) really got me pondering: Are highly defined abs a worthwhile fitness priority, or simply just too much effort to obtain and maintain year round, for the average person struggling to stay very lean and athletic?

Note: I should clarify here that, since this is predominantly a bodybuilding website, that I’m not referring to contest prep contestants and what must be done, from a conditioning standpoint, to place for those people who compete. I’m specifically referring to the non competitor, or the individual who uses training, diet and lifestyle to build and maintain a healthy and aesthetic physique.

And I ask because, while I have been there and achieved that look, it took considerable time, effort and extremely tight dieting (for many months) to get that lean and achieve that level of conditioning. Furthermore, maintaining proved to be a bigger challenge; counting carbs and calories where still very much required to stay at that level. While none of this proved to be a burden, to either my personal or professional life, I did sometimes question why I wanted it so much in the first place, and was it really worth pursuing this particular goal at the expense of others. Anyone else out there seriously think about this and question themselves during a cut? Just wondering.[/quote]

There are natty guys who can maintain visible abs year round and still make progress in strength, size, or both. Guys who use have an upper hand but since I don’t use and don’t plan to, that variable is a non-issue for me.

You sound like you’re at a crossroads similar to what I faced last year. I touched on this in shadowbobo’s ‘Bulk or Cut’ thread in BSL subforum.

The decision I made is for about five months a year, I’m going to hover around 14 percent. This keeps me sane and allows progress in strength and muscularity. My progress comes to a halt if I go lower - and I don’t care who tells me otherwise.

Late Feb, I’ll do a slow and steady recomp; I don’t like using the word ‘cut’ because, to me, it has negative connotations. By mid-June, I’ll hover around 9 percent - which will give me visible abs with minimal or hopefully zero loss in lbm. It’ll also put me within striking distance if I want to go a little lower for special events. My GF loves showing me off on those times.

It comes down to sacrificing short term pleasure (lifting up the shirt and seeing those abs year round) for long term goals.


#6

@MinotaurXXX: I am definitely at the crossroads here, as I’ve been at this game now for well over 20 years. I can most certainly relate to much of what you are saying. At different stages of our training life we have different priorities, goals, obligations and preferences, and with time - including the very time that is available to train with in the first place - objectives and variables do change for everyone.

Having said that, the benefit that I’ve found to getting well into single digit body fat is that, with the diet unchecked and the dietary reigns loosened up, it will take a couple of years for me to creep back up to the body fat level I had before trimming down (that is, if the diet constitutes a mostly wholesome meal plan and the total daily calories are kept under control, and with respect to the current activity level). I find that this super lean weight for me is around 180 lbs, and it’s a level of leanness that doesn’t compromise strength to a significant degree and only improves overall athletic performance and endurance (in activities like running, swimming. etc.).

A previous set plan that I had used as an alternative to this strategy was to allow a window of 10-15 lbs from my ideal bodyweight, and “cut” regardless if I reached the upper threshold of this ceiling weight. So if I hit 190-195 lbs, it was time to start cutting back calories and increasing the overall activity level, until I got back to my super lean weight. It worked for the most part, though I found it tricky to stick with, especially during certain times of the year (such as this one).

As I did with recomp. Glad recomp works for you, but I only had real success going all in or all out with regards to diet and objective, and perhaps this is largely a psychological thing. In other words, if I know my #1 goal is to hit my ideal fight weight, at the leanest attainable composition naturally, then it’s easier for me to put that in the cross hairs and focus just on that particular goal.

Of course with a kid now my new strategy, due to time constraints, has changed somewhat. While I still want partly visible abs (at least) the best compromise I can see is to just keep total calories and intake less than what I have in the past, as I still can maintain lean body mass with this approach and not impact strength and performance. Besides, lifting for over two decades has pretty much put the maximum amount of lean body mass on my frame as I’m naturally ever going to have anyway (unless I ever go on TRT, but that’s a potential future story), so there is no need to go on a miss guided attempt to “bulk” for the sake of supposed added muscle gain.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at, though some of this is subject to change depending on how I feel in the next several months.


#7

Only if you have the strength & muscle to look good when you get ripped.

Also you have to consider if you really want to spend your whole life scrutinizing your diet.

Me personally, I just use good habits and eat “clean” in the offseason and only count calories/macros when I’m prepping for a contest


#8

[quote]Evolv wrote:
Not worth my time.

I sit around 14-15% body fat year round, and feel great. There, I can eat whatever I want, drink a beer with my dinner, I have great energy all day long, my training and strength are awesome, I recover very well, sleep great-- and still feel very athletic. I don’t have to think about what, when, and where I eat. I can live my life, eat great food, train, and get on with everything else.[/quote]

This is roughly where I’m at now, namely around 15% body fat, and if I don’t slip past this point and start tightening things up shortly, the conversion to clear abs and low body fat is neither that lengthy or intrusive (with regard to time and effort).

And much like you, at this weight I can still enjoy that large weekend dinner with family followed by a few shots of whiskey with pop.


#9

[quote]shadowbobo8028 wrote:
Only if you have the strength & muscle to look good when you get ripped.

Also you have to consider if you really want to spend your whole life scrutinizing your diet.

Me personally, I just use good habits and eat “clean” in the offseason and only count calories/macros when I’m prepping for a contest[/quote]

So true, though with me it’s not so much scrutinizing the diet or the foods I eat (I consume very little if any bad comfort food, if that’s what you meant) as much as controlling the portion size of the healthy foods I do eat that may be too calorically dense. But I’m a big boy, and (usually) exercise dietary restraint here in this regard.

Exercising good habits and being used to eating clean food most certainly helps though.

As for being super lean and looking good at a very low body fat level, the attention and compliments I get are undeniable. Though being married with a family you can understand when I say it doesn’t mean that much nowadays, even though there’s no denying that it is still a very ego gratifying experience.

My strength and performance are barely affected if at all when I’m super lean, though these are largely secondary in importance to me anyway. I don’t compete as you do so it’s no big woop for me.


#10

[quote]shadowbobo8028 wrote:
Only if you have the strength & muscle to look good when you get ripped.

[/quote]

This is the best post I’ve ever seen from you. It’s exactly right.

I’ll also add that, as far as the OP goes, it matters how much effort it takes the indivdual to maintain abs. I’ve had abs basically forever. Right now they look fantastic, and I’m lean enough to see veins through my quads, abs, and everywhere else. I’m also as strong as I’ve ever been. I’ve counted absolutely no calories to do this, aside from making sure I just eat enough to continue to grow. So for me, since the only real effort I have to make is in the gym, it’s certainly worthwhile.

Now that being said, getting to ‘contest lean’ is a different animal (talking about approaching the 5% mark). That would require significant effort, and I value my social life, and my relationship with my wife (she cooks for me and does NOT want to have to cook specific things for me to get abs).

I think Reed’s take is probably the most useful one here, since he’s been on both sides of the issue. I doubt I’ll ever not have abs, so of course I’m going to say it’s totally worth it, lol.


#11

I’ve dieted to low bodyfat levels twice in the past (low enough to have visible abs without flexing). The first time was to make 181 for a powerlifting meet, immediately after which I ballooned up to 202, and the second time was this year, starting in June and hitting my lowest around last month. I’m trying to make this run more sustainable.

I honestly think I perform better fatter. It seems easier for me to throw around weight, and I blew out my ACL in a contest which I really want to believe was because I just plain didn’t have enough weight/calories in me to handle the load placed on me. That also might just be me wanting to justify being fat, haha.

I’ve still never counted a single calorie or macro, and just know what I can and can’t eat. That said, it’s definitely more detailed trying to lose the fat versus maintain it. It’s not too miserable of an existence, as I tend to like the foods I have to eat, but I really missed just the sheer quantity of food I used to put away. It’s also less rewarding to see the scale move down than the weight on the bar move up.

All that said, I lost the weight this year because I got tired of looking in the mirror and seeing me be fat, and though I’m no longer losing fat, I’m trying to stay as lean as I can reasonably get away with in my training. You have to like who you are, and I think I like me more when I am strong lean and biggish versus strong, big and leanish.


#12

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
I’ve dieted to low bodyfat levels twice in the past (low enough to have visible abs without flexing). The first time was to make 181 for a powerlifting meet, immediately after which I ballooned up to 202, and the second time was this year, starting in June and hitting my lowest around last month. I’m trying to make this run more sustainable.

I honestly think I perform better fatter. It seems easier for me to throw around weight, and I blew out my ACL in a contest which I really want to believe was because I just plain didn’t have enough weight/calories in me to handle the load placed on me. That also might just be me wanting to justify being fat, haha.

I’ve still never counted a single calorie or macro, and just know what I can and can’t eat. That said, it’s definitely more detailed trying to lose the fat versus maintain it. It’s not too miserable of an existence, as I tend to like the foods I have to eat, but I really missed just the sheer quantity of food I used to put away. It’s also less rewarding to see the scale move down than the weight on the bar move up.

All that said, I lost the weight this year because I got tired of looking in the mirror and seeing me be fat, and though I’m no longer losing fat, I’m trying to stay as lean as I can reasonably get away with in my training. You have to like who you are, and I think I like me more when I am strong lean and biggish versus strong, big and leanish.[/quote]

^ This summarizes it best IMO. Speaking for myself, it’s not so much that I look much better with a shirt off when I’m ripped (though I most certainly do), it’s more that “tightness”, that energetic, transmitting feeling you get throughout your body, and the strut it puts in your stride. Call it psychological but there most certainly is an almost euphoric grace and effortless improvement in posture, movement and the way you project your physicality onto others.


#13

[quote]MikeManos wrote:
@MinotaurXXX: I am definitely at the crossroads here, as I’ve been at this game now for well over 20 years. I can most certainly relate to much of what you are saying. At different stages of our training life we have different priorities, goals, obligations and preferences, and with time - including the very time that is available to train with in the first place - objectives and variables do change for everyone.

Having said that, the benefit that I’ve found to getting well into single digit body fat is that, with the diet unchecked and the dietary reigns loosened up, it will take a couple of years for me to creep back up to the body fat level I had before trimming down (that is, if the diet constitutes a mostly wholesome meal plan and the total daily calories are kept under control, and with respect to the current activity level). I find that this super lean weight for me is around 180 lbs, and it’s a level of leanness that doesn’t compromise strength to a significant degree and only improves overall athletic performance and endurance (in activities like running, swimming. etc.).

A previous set plan that I had used as an alternative to this strategy was to allow a window of 10-15 lbs from my ideal bodyweight, and “cut” regardless if I reached the upper threshold of this ceiling weight. So if I hit 190-195 lbs, it was time to start cutting back calories and increasing the overall activity level, until I got back to my super lean weight. It worked for the most part, though I found it tricky to stick with, especially during certain times of the year (such as this one).

As I did with recomp. Glad recomp works for you, but I only had real success going all in or all out with regards to diet and objective, and perhaps this is largely a psychological thing. In other words, if I know my #1 goal is to hit my ideal fight weight, at the leanest attainable composition naturally, then it’s easier for me to put that in the cross hairs and focus just on that particular goal.

Of course with a kid now my new strategy, due to time constraints, has changed somewhat. While I still want partly visible abs (at least) the best compromise I can see is to just keep total calories and intake less than what I have in the past, as I still can maintain lean body mass with this approach and not impact strength and performance. Besides, lifting for over two decades has pretty much put the maximum amount of lean body mass on my frame as I’m naturally ever going to have anyway (unless I ever go on TRT, but that’s a potential future story), so there is no need to go on a miss guided attempt to “bulk” for the sake of supposed added muscle gain.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at, though some of this is subject to change depending on how I feel in the next several months.[/quote]

It definitely sounds like you considered all the angles on this issue.

So far, you’ve heard from natties such as Pwnisher, Shadow, and myself. And you’ve heard from guys who are open about using such as Reed and Flip.

I still believe that, once a lifter passes the newbie phase, some of us - especially the natties - simply must let those abs fade several months out of the year if we’re to continue making gains in strength and lbm. We just can’t use that as carte blanche to put on excessive chub. But that’s where the discipline kicks in; this game ain’t easy, as you already know.

Since you’ve got 20 years gym time with all the natural lbm you can attain, have goals which are more endurance-sports oriented (you mentioned running and swimming), and change in lifestyle (congrats on the child) - the decision has practically been made for you.

Take consistent measurements using the same method. Photos can certainly help. Keep a close eye on performance to make sure there aren’t substantial drops (although some occasional regression is perfectly normal for any human being).

Once you pass the learning curve, you’ll be able to locate that sweet spot in which performance is improving - or at least not suffering - and you’re content with how you look and feel. In time, you should be able to adjust caloric intake to focus on one aspect or the other. Then, as priorties shift, you can make compensatory adjustments the other way.


#14

[quote]flipcollar wrote:

[quote]shadowbobo8028 wrote:
Only if you have the strength & muscle to look good when you get ripped.

[/quote]

This is the best post I’ve ever seen from you. It’s exactly right.

I’ll also add that, as far as the OP goes, it matters how much effort it takes the indivdual to maintain abs. I’ve had abs basically forever. Right now they look fantastic, and I’m lean enough to see veins through my quads, abs, and everywhere else. I’m also as strong as I’ve ever been. I’ve counted absolutely no calories to do this, aside from making sure I just eat enough to continue to grow. So for me, since the only real effort I have to make is in the gym, it’s certainly worthwhile.

Now that being said, getting to ‘contest lean’ is a different animal (talking about approaching the 5% mark). That would require significant effort, and I value my social life, and my relationship with my wife (she cooks for me and does NOT want to have to cook specific things for me to get abs).

I think Reed’s take is probably the most useful one here, since he’s been on both sides of the issue. I doubt I’ll ever not have abs, so of course I’m going to say it’s totally worth it, lol.[/quote]

This. I have always until very recently been very fat and when I got to 15% I thought I was a god lol. I have to bust my ass to get and keep my abs and vascularity. Mind you my strength keeps going up so staying lean and continuing to grow is very possible but, it may require the help of some much more knowledgable than your self. I wouldn’t be close to where I am with out Amits guidance. But, one good thing I have noticed is that the leaner you get the more lead way you have to be social. Lol you only have to be perfect for 12-16 weeks or what ever get where you want and then maintaining that is easy. Hell now that I have gotten very close possibly into single digit body fat I can actually be more loose with my diet (kinda) now than when I was 15%.


#15

Quick story that popped in my head that inspired that last part: When I was at my leanest at 180 lbs (maybe even less, I don’t remember the exact scale weight and it’s largely unimportant) a couple years ago, I had some wardrobe dress shirts altered to accommodate and accentuate my build, as they were too loose at the bottom and looked sloppy hanging out the sides. After getting them back from my female Korean tailor (who is a phenomenal tailor, by the way), I put on my favorite shirt and it felt almost like part of my body - albeit comfortably loose, yet flattering to my build nonetheless.

But what really stood out after I put it on was that I pulled it down over my stomach and the abdominal ridges felt sharp and extremely compact, and virtually protruded out like body armor. Running my fingers over my stomach it felt equally defined and pronounced to the touch, and I thought to myself, “now that’s what it’s all about” and headed to Starbucks for a java.

In line there was this athletic young lass in front of me in her twenties, and she had her back to me and didn’t notice that I was there. As she backs up and turns backwards, she bumps into me as her chest and tummy rub across my entire front abdominal wall (which instinctively I automatically contracted, of course). Before she could finish saying excuse me, she immediately gazed into my eyes with her wide open baby blues and muttered, “Wo!”. For a second she was transfixed, almost mesmerized by the incidental, unexpected yet and obviously highly pleasurable contact…and stayed like that for several moments with her pupils widening by each passing microsecond.

Yours truly slightly grinned, winked and said, “you’re quite welcome”. Talk about seeing someone get instantaneously flushed and blushing embarrassingly, this young girl looked like she felt worked up lol.

If there is such a thing as visually devouring someone sexually, that moment had to be it. =)


#16

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
I honestly think I perform better fatter. It seems easier for me to throw around weight, and I blew out my ACL in a contest which I really want to believe was because I just plain didn’t have enough weight/calories in me to handle the load placed on me. That also might just be me wanting to justify being fat, haha.
[/quote]

The best quote I heard on this is from a woman on the USA Oly team (there’s a documentary about her but the title escapes me). In her words, it “takes mass to move mass.”

There’s a reason getting your bloat on has stood the test of time.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
All that said, I lost the weight this year because I got tired of looking in the mirror and seeing me be fat, and though I’m no longer losing fat, I’m trying to stay as lean as I can reasonably get away with in my training. You have to like who you are, and I think I like me more when I am strong lean and biggish versus strong, big and leanish.
[/quote]

This is what I’m talking about when I say - for natties especially - it’s fine to let your appearance take a back seat to performance as long as you don’t go too far regarding fat gain.


#17

It definitely sounds like you considered all the angles on this issue.

So far, you’ve heard from natties such as Pwnisher, Shadow, and myself. And you’ve heard from guys who are open about using such as Reed and Flip.

I still believe that, once a lifter passes the newbie phase, some of us - especially the natties - simply must let those abs fade several months out of the year if we’re to continue making gains in strength and lbm. We just can’t use that as carte blanche to put on excessive chub. But that’s where the discipline kicks in; this game ain’t easy, as you already know.

Since you’ve got 20 years gym time with all the natural lbm you can attain, have goals which are more endurance-sports oriented (you mentioned running and swimming), and change in lifestyle (congrats on the child) - the decision has practically been made for you.

Take consistent measurements using the same method. Photos can certainly help. Keep a close eye on performance to make sure there aren’t substantial drops (although some occasional regression is perfectly normal for any human being).

Once you pass the learning curve, you’ll be able to locate that sweet spot in which performance is improving - or at least not suffering - and you’re content with how you look and feel. In time, you should be able to adjust caloric intake to focus on one aspect or the other. Then, as priorties shift, you can make compensatory adjustments the other way.

[/quote]

You hit it perfectly with regards to my gym goals now; athletic goals are primarily what I’m focused on right now entirely. Perhaps not so coincidentally, I’m having some very fun and intense workouts training out of the norm these past few months. At around 205 lbs, I even just set a PR at super strict pull ups (15 with perfect form), which I never expected at over 200 lbs.

I also scaled back to 2 full body workouts a week, and they are equally rewarding as the heavier weights are now more manageable for sets. While I haven’t set any bench, push press or leg press PR’s (I can’t really squat and deadlift anymore do to reoccuring back issues), the weights are moving nicely and the workouts always feel great. If I get the chance to hit the gym 4-5 times a week I’ll usually make those other workouts either swimming or road work related. So far so good.


#18

[quote]MikeManos wrote:
Quick story that popped in my head that inspired that last part: When I was at my leanest at 180 lbs (maybe even less, I don’t remember the exact scale weight and it’s largely unimportant) a couple years ago, I had some wardrobe dress shirts altered to accommodate and accentuate my build, as they were too loose at the bottom and looked sloppy hanging out the sides. After getting them back from my female Korean tailor (who is a phenomenal tailor, by the way), I put on my favorite shirt and it felt almost like part of my body - albeit comfortably loose, yet flattering to my build nonetheless.

But what really stood out after I put it on was that I pulled it down over my stomach and the abdominal ridges felt sharp and extremely compact, and virtually protruded out like body armor. Running my fingers over my stomach it felt equally defined and pronounced to the touch, and I thought to myself, “now that’s what it’s all about” and headed to Starbucks for a java.

In line there was this athletic young lass in front of me in her twenties, and she had her back to me and didn’t notice that I was there. As she backs up and turns backwards, she bumps into me as her chest and tummy rub across my entire front abdominal wall (which instinctively I automatically contracted, of course). Before she could finish saying excuse me, she immediately gazed into my eyes with her wide open baby blues and muttered, “Wo!”. For a second she was transfixed, almost mesmerized by the incidental, unexpected yet and obviously highly pleasurable contact…and stayed like that for several moments with her pupils widening by each passing microsecond.

Yours truly slightly grinned, winked and said, “you’re quite welcome”. Talk about seeing someone get instantaneously flushed and blushing embarrassingly, this young girl looked like she felt worked up lol.

If there is such a thing as visually devouring someone sexually, that moment had to be it. =)[/quote]

Moments like this are narcotic in their addiction.

Does it sting that, several months per year, I’m not in this club? Sure, it does.

But again, it boils down to what it takes for me to achieve long-term goals while making short-term concessions. When the day comes when I can no longer put on lbm as a natty, I’ll most likely stay in lean mode year round with small deviations during the winter. But I’m not there yet. And those who are relatively new to this game need to understand why.


#19

Btw, OP you should post more. Good stuff all around from everyone.


#20

[quote]MinotaurXXX wrote:

[quote]MikeManos wrote:
Quick story that popped in my head that inspired that last part: When I was at my leanest at 180 lbs (maybe even less, I don’t remember the exact scale weight and it’s largely unimportant) a couple years ago, I had some wardrobe dress shirts altered to accommodate and accentuate my build, as they were too loose at the bottom and looked sloppy hanging out the sides. After getting them back from my female Korean tailor (who is a phenomenal tailor, by the way), I put on my favorite shirt and it felt almost like part of my body - albeit comfortably loose, yet flattering to my build nonetheless.

But what really stood out after I put it on was that I pulled it down over my stomach and the abdominal ridges felt sharp and extremely compact, and virtually protruded out like body armor. Running my fingers over my stomach it felt equally defined and pronounced to the touch, and I thought to myself, “now that’s what it’s all about” and headed to Starbucks for a java.

In line there was this athletic young lass in front of me in her twenties, and she had her back to me and didn’t notice that I was there. As she backs up and turns backwards, she bumps into me as her chest and tummy rub across my entire front abdominal wall (which instinctively I automatically contracted, of course). Before she could finish saying excuse me, she immediately gazed into my eyes with her wide open baby blues and muttered, “Wo!”. For a second she was transfixed, almost mesmerized by the incidental, unexpected yet and obviously highly pleasurable contact…and stayed like that for several moments with her pupils widening by each passing microsecond.

Yours truly slightly grinned, winked and said, “you’re quite welcome”. Talk about seeing someone get instantaneously flushed and blushing embarrassingly, this young girl looked like she felt worked up lol.

If there is such a thing as visually devouring someone sexually, that moment had to be it. =)[/quote]

Moments like this are narcotic in their addiction.

Does it sting that, several months per year, I’m not in this club? Sure, it does.

But again, it boils down to what it takes for me to achieve long-term goals while making short-term concessions. When the day comes when I can no longer put on lbm as a natty, I’ll most likely stay in lean mode year round with small deviations during the winter. But I’m not there yet. And those who are relatively new to this game need to understand why. [/quote]

Haha yes they are.

What’s funny about the whole thing is that while I got those looks when I was super lean and shirtless (usually at the beach), I got the same looks when I was fully clothed, in casual and dress clothes, but 15 lbs heavier . So my clothed 190 lbs had the same visual effect as my 175 lbs in just a swimsuit. My observation is that I looked fuller and healthier at 190 lbs (but still visibly lean in garments), whereas as my leaner self had a more “depleted” look in clothing.

Of course, take away the layers of clothes and the leaner look wins hands down.