Why I couldn’t care less about getting under 10% body fat for a competition or photo-shoot again.
I’ll be talking about my own experiences and summarising points from my favourite article “the cost of getting lean” by precision nutrition.
Everyone wants to look like that guy/ girl on Instagram, I know I have and I’ve been that guy/girl on Instagram people want to look like.
If you’re thinking about dieting down to those extremes, I hope this blog post makes you think twice before doing so.
Do you think you can get the body you want while living the life you enjoy? Well you can’t.
The process that helps you lose the first 10lbs isn’t the same process as losing the last 10lbs, it takes much much more.
If you are aspiring to be that “fitness model”, you might be surprised what they actually look like in real life, images are photo shopped, body builders only look like that for a matter of hours and achieving it comes at a high cost to your life and happiness.
Firstly, lets talk about the benefits and trade-offs at different body fat percentages.
HEALTHY BODY FAT: 13-15% Male / 23-33% Female
Benefits: Fairly easy to maintain
Trade-offs: Requires some planning / may require minor social sacrifices / you’ll look good but not super lean.
TOUGH BODY FAT: <6% Male / <16% Female
Benefits: Will feel pride achieving athletic goal
Trade-offs: difficult in any social situation where food and drink is involved / will lose out of fun events with family and friends / big time commitments to weigh and track all foods / too much focus on diet and exercise which can cause disordered eating / time requires for exercise instead of other interests and past times.
SO HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHAT LEVEL TO TAKE THIS?
- If you want to make changes to your body composition, you’ll need to make further changes to your behaviours.
- The leaner you get; the more behaviours you’ll have to change.
The most important thing is that you understand what it actually takes to do what you want to achieve…
So what is a healthy body fat?
Male: 11-22% and Female 22-33%
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET “SHREDDED”?
Those who are wanting to get silly low body fat have to undergo controlled starvation.
The only way you get into that condition is by sticking to an extremely strict eating regiment, a extremely strenuous training programme and throwing a cocktail of drugs into the mix half the time.
The whole process goes against our biology, it requires training when you are exhausted, it demands ignoring food cravings while facing huge hunger cues combined with intense focus and dedication throughout.
- You have to make your own food, measure every meal down to the gram.
- The food Is generally boring – lean proteins, vegetables and bland carbohydrates sources.
- You have to carry that food with you at all times so you can eat at the right times.
- You cannot eat in restaurants.
- You have to do specific workouts on each day.
- No days off
- You’ll be training a minimum of X2 a day.
- You will struggle to sleep but still need to focus on recovery precisely.
- No parties or late nights
- You can’t think straight because you’re always hungry and tired.
- Your whole life revolves around making food, dieting, training and recovery
- You wont be able to be yourself around friends, family and loved ones.
- Oh and during the whole process you’re starving?
So is it really worth it?
Having a 6 pack doesn’t make you healthy, in fact getting that lean can be unhealthy.
You could end up with amenorrhea, low libido (trust me), disordered eating, social isolation and host of other problems.
Most body builders rely on drugs like stimulants, diuretics and others just to keep going. Many people rely on cosmetic surgery, which creates a health risk in itself.
So basically, being really lean has nothing to do with being really healthy.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE HOW LEAN YOU WANT TO BE?
- Figure out your goals and priorities
- Decide what you’re willing to do
- Decide how often, and how consistently, and how precisely, you’re willing to do those things.
- Decide what you’re not willing to do
- Review the above points and then be brutally honest with yourself.
Please feel free to contact me regarding any questions you may have, and if you are thinking about taking your body and mind to that extreme please get advice from a professional before doing so.