What is really the ideal body fat percentage?

Status
Closed Thread. (Continue Discussion of This Topic by Starting a New Thread.)

jrosto

Level 1 Valued Member
Every time I see Prince Fielder on the field, I wonder just how much better a baseball player he would be if he lost a chunk of that bodyfat. Then I see him run. Prince is surprisingly quick.
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
That age-based chart seems extremely aggressive for the females. I would imagine a female attempting to reach those numbers would be highly difficult.

I'm not sure I would agree with the starting point at age 20, which could be part of the problem; that's asking to be at close to the extreme side of health, seems much too optimistic. If the chart started at ~12 for males and ~20 for females and then followed the same gradual increase, I would be more inclined to agree
 

rickyw

Level 6 Valued Member
I wonder if it is extremely aggressive for most females in the 21st century...After all, how many of us are out and about eating well and being as physically active as we should? And I mean, really physically active, not walking on the treadmill. And really eating lots of fruits and veggies and not any processed junk. My guess is the girls would be much closer to those numbers if that were the case...
 
Last edited:

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
I don't understand why the "ideal" BF would increase about 5% from age 40 to 55. "Attainable by the average person" (or "realistically ideal") I could understand, but wouldn't the "ideal" be the same?

I think most females would do better to increase the emphasis on increasing lean mass... it definitely helps even things out and maintain body composition, not to mention all the other benefits of being strong. And in my experience (and what I've observed in other women), lean mass jumps up pretty easily with some initial strength work, and then it really doesn't increase much more than that without some super specialized training. According to the Bod Pod, I have 6 lb more muscle now than I did 3-5 years ago when I was only cycling and doing yoga and no strength training. Lean mass went up 4 lb in 4 months when I got serious about the kettlebell training, but then only another 2 lb since then, though I've gotten much stronger during that time. Currently around 20% and plenty of fat to spare, wouldn't mind losing a bit of it but my body REALLY likes this particular weight. Haven't figured out how to change it's mind about that, although I can make the scale move if I work hard enough at it through diet. Oh well, at least the chart says I'm good. Should that make me feel better? ;)
 
Last edited:

rickyw

Level 6 Valued Member
I don't understand why the "ideal" BF would increase about 5% from age 40 to 55. "Attainable by the average person" (or "realistically ideal") I could understand, but wouldn't the "ideal" be the same?
My guess is due to the "creeping obesity" factor. I wonder if they factored in the effects of regular strength training on body fat percentages when the made the charts? But as we age if we don't maintain muscle mass, we gradually lose it, and metabolism slows down. It may be due to hormonal changes as well.
 

Tarzan

Level 4 Valued Member
You have to consider that those types of charts are the center of a bell curve on a statistical analysis based on unspecified criteria. Maybe mortality, incidence of chronic disease and similar factors contribute to the final make up and recommendations.

They don't give a set in stone percentage for your own DNA though, they could never be that specific. Some people are going to be perfectly healthy at lower or higher BF percentages.
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
@Anna C , the number changes with age simply due to age related changes. Slowing of metabolism, sarcopenia, various hormonal changes, etc. I mentioned before, a physician I've worked with in the past and respect a great deal felt that every decade after 40, ideal body fat increases by ~2% based on the above changes. Its just a natural part of life.

@rickyw I believe the reason I didn't like those numbers was due to the "essential fat" for females being listed as 10-13%. Almost every other resource I've found lists this number as 15-18%.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I don't understand why the "ideal" BF would increase about 5% from age 40 to 55
I have been told that visceral fat - tough to measure - increases as we age and there's not a thing one can do about it.

-S-
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
You have stayed light and lean, Steve -- do you think your BF% has increased as much as the chart says? If not, I would say there IS something we can do about it.... namely, exactly what you/we are doing.

I just am still stuck on this "ideal" terminology. Doesn't make sense to me. As @wespom9 said, "Slowing of metabolism, sarcopenia, various hormonal changes" - yes, these things do happen as we age, but they happen LESS if we stay strong and healthy... one of the primary reasons we train as we do.
 

Mike E

Level 5 Valued Member
I don't buy the 2%/decade myth. I've never read a good explanation supporting a good health outcome by adding extra fat on the body. To me it simply reflects the inactive lifestyle and poor diet of contemporary man (myself until the last few years). I'm going back to the weight I was when I was the most fit: 145 lbs. I'm 156 now, the majority of my extra weight is on my belly. I've read that's a very dangerous place to store fat.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
I liked to be ~15-18% on deployments in order to live off the hump for a few days if necessary and not be fatigued.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I liked to be ~15-18% on deployments in order to live off the hump for a few days if necessary and not be fatigued.
A friend, 30 years ago, coined a phrase for me; he calls that little bit of belly fat his "good life." The explanation? If you don't have it, people think you aren't living the good life.

I like the concept. :)

-S-
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
You have stayed light and lean, Steve -- do you think your BF% has increased as much as the chart says?
I look fatter than I did 10 years ago but my weight is the same. I have no clue about any possible change in body composition - too many variables, and not important enough to me.

As long as I can continue to weigh in at PL meets 67.5 kg without too much misery, I'm content.

-S-
 

MattM

SFG1
Certified Instructor
Every time I see Prince Fielder on the field, I wonder just how much better a baseball player he would be if he lost a chunk of that bodyfat. Then I see him run. Prince is surprisingly quick.
I think the exact same about Vince Wilfork. Fast as hell for 350+
 

elli

Level 9 Valued Member
I think for women something is more important than the %: If she loses her period, bf is too low.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I think for women something is more important than the %: If she loses her period, bf is too low.
My understanding is that one has to be very thin, much thinner than most women would want to bother with, for this to happen.

-S-
 

elli

Level 9 Valued Member
My understanding is that one has to be very thin, much thinner than most women would want to bother with, for this to happen.

-S-
Yes...but often women weigh less than their natural settling point would be and in addition to that they work out too much and avoid fat (assuming it would make them fat). Disordered eating and nutrient deficiencies occure, period gets irregular or does not happen. And too low bf is a part of this.
IMHO
if there is a lady in doubt around
I am weight restored but don't have a menstrual cycle. Is it just never coming back?
 
Last edited:

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
I agree, @elli, and have experienced it. And I promise I've never been "very thin, much thinner than most women would want to bother with." (Not to pick on you, Steve, but it is a misconception. It's often stress based, or... who knows.) Happy to discuss further via PM if anyone has questions or interest on this subject.
 
Status
Closed Thread. (Continue Discussion of This Topic by Starting a New Thread.)
Top Bottom