n relation to our previous posts about body composition, the question that arose is: WHAT IS THE IDEAL BODY FAT PERCENTAGE?
An absolutely ideal body fat percentage does not exist! Your age and gender are factors that contribute to the possible ideal value. While these factors are pretty much out of your choice and control, others such as your overall health and fitness goals can bring about the desired goal. For example if you ask someone who is highly concerned with health and wellness this question, you likely to get a slightly higher figure than if you ask an athlete more concerned with peak performance.
For general health and wellness a good guideline would be 15-20% in women and 12-18% in men.
For those who are more concerned with their performance levels and want to have a leaner, more toned body, body fat percentage would range between 12-18% for women and 6-12% for men.
However, there comes a point at which lowering your body fat percentage will not necessarily be better and healthier! In order for the body to function properly, a certain amount of body fat is required. It is called ‘essential body fat’, without which your body systems will shut down, which may lead to death. This essential body fat is deposited around the internal organs and provides cushioning and acts as a shock absorber.
For women the average essential fat is around 12%. Lower than this will result in distuption of the menstrual cycle and serious interference with the hormonal system, often with permanent damage.
For men the essential body fat percentage is around 4-8%.
In my opinion, instead of building your fitness goals around an unrealistic number, YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Each person has a set-point weight, which the body tends to be at. For example you may slightly overeat one day and under-eat the next, but your weight will stay more or less the same.
If you drop below this natural weight, your body will react. You may start fighting a nagging hunger, become obsessed with food, or feel chronically tired. On the other hand, if you are above your set point, you will feel flabby and uncomfortable in your clothes.
Weight after all is more than a matter of willpower, and HAPPINESS DOES NOT NECESSARILY COME FROM BEING THIN!