Archive for the tag - body fat

Can Body Fat Be Too Low?

When it comes to body fat, how low is too low?

When it comes to body fat, how low is too low?

Targeting a lower body fat percentage is a common workout goal. And it’s a great goal to have.

But in the same way that too much of a good thing isn’t good, too little of a bad thing isn’t great either. And the truth is, body fat isn’t entirely bad. It serves many important functions including insulation and serving as an energy source. Your body needs some fat to function properly.

Though these numbers can very slightly from source to source, the following are general guidelines on body fat percentages:

  • Essential fat: 10% – 13% for women, 2% – 5% for men
  • Athletes: 14% – 20% for women, 6% – 13% for men
  • Fitness: 21% – 24% for women, 14% – 17% for men
  • Average: 25% – 31% for women, 18% – 24% for men
  • Obese: 32+% for women, 25+% for men

If you drop below these ranges, you’ll likely experience chronic fatigue, slow workout recovery, nutritional deficiencies, increased risk of infection and so on. For women, low levels of body fat (less than 13% - 17%) result in irregular menstruation. In fact, low body fat levels can even result in infertility.

Believe it or not, some individuals actually have zero percent body fat. It’s a rare and potentially dangerous medical condition in which the body is unable to gain weight. The condition was popularized by Lizzie Velásquez who, because of her striking appearance and the resulting bullying, has given motivation speeches and even a Ted Talk.

While reducing your body fat percentage can be an effective goal, it’s important to be target healthy ranges - and to not take things to an extreme. Having too little fat can be a sign of an eating disorder. In these instances, it’s important to get professional help.



I Want 8% Body Fat.

Hey Davey,

I am a 27 year old male who is 6’3” and 240 pounds. Ideally, I’d like to slim down and get a body like yours with 8% - 9% body fat. My question is: What does your typical day’s diet and gym plan look like?


different-body-fat-percentageHey Derrick,

It’s great that you’d like to slim down, but comparing your body to the results of someone else can be a very dangerous game. In your fitness journey, you’ll need to discover what works best for you - and not what works best for someone else, like me.

Moreover, I my gym commitment is significant; if you’re just starting out, it’s unrealistic to sustain nine hours a week at the gym (6x a week at 90 minutes per session). You’ll burn yourself out. It’s much better to start small and then slowly build up over time. After all, I’ve been working out regularly for 13 years.

Having said all of that, I will share my typical gym and diet plan with the understanding that it’s probably not the best or most realistic plan for everyone.

  • 6AM: Wake-up - Half whey protein shake and banana
  • 7AM: Gym - 90 minutes total (25 minutes cardio / 65 minutes strength training)
  • 9AM: Breakfast - Whey protein shake and cereal with almond milk
  • Noon: Lunch - Typically chicken or turkey sandwich on wheat bread with steamed vegetables
  • Evening activity - A few times per week, I’ll increase my physical activity with an afternoon hike, rock climbing, Pilates class or gymnastics.
  • 6:30 PM: Dinner - Typically salad, steamed vegetables and lean meat
  • 9PM: Snack - Varies, apples with peanut butter or casein protein smoothie or fresh berries, etc.

That’s it. In a nutshell, my motto is move more and eat smarter - and that’s exactly what I do. Of course, I still give myself a day off from the gym each week, and there certainly are days where my diet deviates from the above outline. You need to live - but, by and large, I do right by my body.


Ready to Lose Weight? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself!

Today’s guest post is by Davey Wavey’s good friend and spiritual weight release coach, Diane Petrella. Diane is also one of the contributors to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

It’s the New Year, a time that re-ignites the desire to lose weight and get in shape. Before you dive in, evaluate your readiness to stay the course. Without a solid foundation, starting too quickly can lead to frustrating results. When you’re emotionally prepared, however, your results become permanent. Use these five questions to decide if now’s the time to fully commit to your weight loss success.

1. Will you make your well-being a priority?

To lose weight successfully, your physical and emotional health must be your number one concern. This doesn’t mean you neglect personal responsibilities. It means you respond to those responsibilities through self-loving eyes. For example, you set boundaries on the demands of family and friends to create “Me” time. It also means you address life stressors that erode your confidence, such as a strained marriage or job dissatisfaction. Even if you delay focusing on weight loss, you’ll feel more confident to begin when your life feels stable.

2. Will you change your lifestyle?

To succeed with weight loss, you must replace old habits with new ones. Your willingness to exercise regularly and eat wholesome foods increases your chance for long term success. What lifestyle changes are you willing to make? For example, will you limit television time to make room for exercise? Will you take time for self-reflection to nurture your spirit? As you adopt new behaviors that support good health and well-being, you create a lifestyle that nurtures your long-term success.

3. Will you seek out support?

Losing weight sometimes feels frustrating and discouraging. Make it easy on yourself. Connect with others for support and professional guidance. Consult with a dietitian for nutrition advice, a personal trainer for exercise suggestions or a weight loss coach for inspiration. Besides professional assistance, join a weight loss support group or connect with others on-line through forums. If groups don’t work for you, talk to a trusted friend for support when discouraged and camaraderie to celebrate progress.

4. Will you look deeper if necessary?

If you struggle to lose weight, despite your best intentions, perhaps it’s time to dig deeper. For some people, excess weight offers protection and food equals comfort. Despite a conscious desire to be thinner, losing weight sometimes triggers subconscious fears that actually prevent progress. If success always eludes you, seek professional support to discover what’s holding you back. If you can relate to this, use the therapist finder tool at Psychology Today to find a counselor in your local area to help.

5. Will you be patient and persevere?

Permanent weight loss takes time. You need this time to not only release weight responsibly, but to release limiting beliefs and negative thoughts from your mind. If you lose weight too quickly, your self-concept doesn’t have time to change. Old beliefs then draw you back to old habits. Be willing to have patience and persevere. Doing so transforms discouragement into a determined belief that nothing will stop you from reaching your goal.

What if you don’t feel ready?

If after reading these questions you don’t feel ready, that’s OK. Give yourself permission to wait. Take time to discover what you need to fully commit. Use the above questions to guide you. You actually begin the weight loss process by creating a strong foundation first. When the timing is right, you’ll feel an inner trust that guides the rest of your journey with confidence and inspiration.

Are you ready to lose weight? Let us know in the comments below.

Top 6 Myths About Body Fat

While many of us target leaner builds like that of the twunk (part twink, part hunk) above, how much do you really know about body fat?

When it comes to exercise and nutrition, they’re tons of myths out there. Like that the shake weight actually does anything. Since we hear many of these fallacies so often, we don’t always question their legitimacy.

Today, let’s bust the top 6 myths about body fat:

  1. Muscle turns to fat. Because many people gain weight when they stop exercising, there’s a misconception that muscle turns into fat. In reality, muscle fibers and fat cells are two very different things; one cannot become the other. The truth: Many people gain weight after they stop exercising because their body is burning fewer calories - but they continue to eat the same amount of food.
  2. Fat on the body come from fat in foods. This belief has led to a slew of fat-free and reduced fat foods. The truth: Body fat comes from calories, not necessarily fat. If you eat more calories than your body burns - whether it comes from lettuce or a double-cheeseburger - your body will store the extra calories as fat.
  3. The lower the body fat percentage, the better. To lean down and increase muscle definition, many dieters aim for the lowest body fat percentages possible. The truth: Your body needs some levels of essential body fat to protect organs and facilitate functions. For women, a body fat percentage of 10% - 13% is essential; for men, 2% to 5% is essential. Aim for body fat percentages above these ranges.
  4. You can target where you want to lose body fat. When we build our muscles, we exercise the muscles we want to grow. For example, doing bicep curls will give you larger biceps. It only seems logical to assume that body fat works the same way. The truth: You can’t spot-reduce body fat. It comes off various body parts according to its own agenda. This may include your face, neck, chest, arms and anywhere else. For men, the pesky beer belly is usually the last to shrink.
  5. Fat weighs less than muscle. You’ve heard it a million times before. The truth: A pound is a pound; a pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of bricks. In the same way, a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle. It’s truer to say that muscle is more dense than fat. And this explains why exercisers may lose inches but not pounds - as they are shedding body fat but also building muscle.
  6. Starving yourself reduces body fat. Since our body fat comes from calories, it seems to make sense that if we starve ourselves, we’ll lose our extra body fat. The truth: While you will initially lose body fat if you stop eating, your body will go into starvation mood - and your metabolism will come to a grinding halt. Eventually, you’ll need to eat again. And when you do, you’ll gain all the weight back - and then some.

Did these 6 myths change the way you think about body fat? Let me know in the comments below!

Question: Does Muscle Turn to Fat When You Stop Exercising?

Answer: Muscle turns to fat in the same way that lead turns into gold. It just doesn’t happen.

Fat and muscle are two very different and distinct tissues. There is no biological pathway for one to become the other.

But like many myths, this one does contain a kernel of truth. If someone is injured and can’t workout - or just makes the decision to eliminate exercise - then there is a good chance that they’ll gain body fat. This might create the illusion that muscle is turning into fat.

The reality is quite different. Fueling an active and muscular body requires an increase in caloric intake. Obviously, it takes calories to sustain a gym workout - but it also takes calories to maintain each and every pound of muscle that the body adds. When people stop exercising, the extra muscle begins to deteriorate in a process known as atrophy. Exercise is eliminated, the metabolism slows and atrophy occurs; the body’s need for calories has now been greatly reduced.

But when people stop exercising, they usually continue to eat what they ate while working out. Since the diet isn’t modified accordingly, the extra calories are stored as body fat.

So don’t let this pervasive myth prevent you from hitting the gym - or from taking off necessary gym time to help heal an injury. Muscle will never turn into fat.

How Much Weight Can You Lose Per Week?

I get a lot of questions about weight loss - and more specifically, about how much weight a person can (safely) lose per week.

The general recommendation is that you can lose up to 1% of your weight per week. So, if you’re 200 lbs, then that’s 2 pounds the first week. Note that as you release weight, the per week amount changes. If you’re down to 150 lbs, then you wouldn’t want to release more than a pound and a half per week. Following this guideline, most of us wouldn’t want to lose more than a few pounds per week.

The recommend amount may sound low, but remember that losing weight slowly is more sustainable. In addition, in minimizes the sometimes harmful effects of rapid weight loss like loose skin.

But remember - losing weight is one thing, and losing fat is another. Fat is just part of our body’s variable weight. On top of our skeletons are layers of muscle, too. And our bodies contain a tremendous amount of water weight. Losing weight doesn’t tell the whole story.

For example, a dehydrated person will weigh less than when they are hydrated. But obviously, that’s not a good thing. And a person that is exercising and lifting weights may actually gain weight - though the weight gain is good, and the result of increased muscle mass. Clearly, weight is fairly limited as an indicator of body fat or as a measure of overall health.

Moving beyond the scale, I recommend using alternatives like inches lost (from the waist), inches gained (from the biceps, chest, etc.), increases in energy, health changes, body fat percentages and more.

New Study Shows Obesity is Contagious.

According to a new study by Harvard researchers, having more obese friends increases your chance of becoming obese.

Alison Hill, the study’s lead author, said, “We find that having four obese friends doubled people’s chance of becoming obese compared to people with no obese friends.” The study goes on to say that the more obese people you come in contact with, the more likely you are to become obese.

Why? Researchers aren’t sure. Before we shrug off responsibility for our health and point fingers at our friends, it’s important to remember that obesity isn’t like chickenpox—it’s not outwardly contagious. But maybe our eating and exercise habits are. Or maybe people make friends with like-minded individuals that enjoy similar activities, foods, etc.

One thing is clear: Americans are getting even fatter. Obesity is defined as more than 30 pounds overweight. Currently, about 1/3 of America is obese. That number is expected to reach 42% in 40 years, and then level off, according to the researchers.

And if our habits are contagious, it’s yet another reason to lead by example!

What do you make of this new study? Do you find that you and your friends share similar habits?

How to Overcome Sugar Addiction.

Sugar is serious business. And many of us are addicted to the sweet stuff - or at the very least, getting way too much of it.

According to the USDA, Americans get more than twice the recommend amount of added sugar daily. What’s the big deal? Excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, metabolic disorders (a precursor to diabetes) and even some forms of cancer. In other words, our sugar addiction could kill us.

And from a purely fitness standpoint, lots of sugar translates into extra body fat. A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down - but it will take 4 minutes of treadmill running to work it off!

What can you do to kick your sugar habit?

  1. Get your sugar where it occurs naturally - from fruits, dairy and vegetables.
  2. Avoid the obvious stuff like soft drinks, cakes, cookies, pies, fruit punch and candy.
  3. When you buy food, check the label. In the list of ingredients, look for any of these as they’re all forms of sugar in a clever disguise: Brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, syrup or table sugar.

The easiest and most effective way to cut some sugar from your diet is to simply replace any fruit or soda beverages with water. If you can replace just two sugary beverages with water, you’ll make an annual caloric savings equivalent to 22 pounds of body fat!