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Old 11-12-2007, 03:27 PM   #1  
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Default What is a good body fat % to aim for?

Well, I've hit goal -- AGAIN. I keep lowering my goal! It's definitely a great feeling, but I also feel confused....

Here's the thing. I'm 136 lbs. I thought I would look a lot less heavy at this weight than I actually do. I still have an ample amount of fat on my body, and a big stomach -- which is bad for both appearance AND health reasons. I'm at a fairly normal, healthy- *sounding* weight, but it doesn't feel like I'm quite there yet.

I've been thinking, maybe I should focus on body-fat percentage. Maybe that is more important than the scale. (The scale is always important, though, IMO). Right now it's at 22%. What do you guys think is a good % to aim for? I've heard all kinds of things but really don't know.

Thanks in advance for your input!

~nineteen

Last edited by nineteen; 11-12-2007 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 11-12-2007, 03:39 PM   #2  
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We're the same height with roughly the same goal - i've been concentrating more on body fat % though for a little while now. My aim with it is to get around 18%.

I'm currently 138 pounds at hovering around 20%
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Old 11-12-2007, 03:53 PM   #3  
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Also remember, it can take up to a couple years of toning exercises to get rid of body fat and tone sagging skin.

Just keep up the good work, and I'm sure a healthy bodyfat% will come with extra weight training and toning!! ^_^
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:09 PM   #4  
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Thanks Lyria. That sounds like a good, realistic goal. Congrats on your loss, btw!

& Thank you Casandra
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:16 PM   #5  
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Hi Nineteen! 22% is a really good body fat percentage! Have you seen these guidelines from the American Council on Exercise (ACE)?

Essential Fat: 10-12 percent
Athletes: 14-20 percent
Fitness: 21-24 percent
Acceptable: 25-31 percent
Obese (or high risk): over 32 percent

You can see that you're in the "Fitness" category right now, which is a very nice place to be.

But I can understand that you may still feel dissatisfied with how you look. Getting to your goal weight doesn't automatically result in achieving your goal body. Scale weight becomes a lot less relevant when we're talking about goal bodies, so you're very smart to start focusing on BF% now instead of the scale.

Exercise is going to be your best friend now to help you achieve your goals of getting rid of your stomach and any surplus fat. I'm not sure what kind of exercise program you are doing now, but a combination of moderate to high intensity cardio and weightlifting should make a big difference in the months to come.

You may not lose another pound on the scales, but you'll probably lose inches. Mel, one of our moderators here at 3FC, reached her goal weight, wasn't happy with what she saw in the mirror, and started a weightlifting program. Even though she gained three pounds, she lost two pants sizes. I think we'd all be happy with those results!
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:18 PM   #6  
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Depends on your goals. If you want to see your abs, you'd need to be about 14% or lower (assuming you are a woman). Just for reference, female body builders usually carry around 6-8% in competition shape, but go higher in the "off season" when their focus turns to gaining muscle mass. (The longer you've been at this, the more difficult it is to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously.)

But, your body fat doesn't need to be 14% to see good definition in other body parts (e.g., shoulders). Nor does everyone even like the defined look.

In terms of health, recommendations do vary depending on the MD or organization, but 22% usually falls in the "healthy" category. Athletes range from 16-20%, but can go lower depending on the sport and the season. Below about 12-14%, some women start to lose their periods, but even here it's not clear that there are long-term effects on reproductive health, fertility, etc.

BTW, there is some measurement error in body fat %, and the measurement error is greater at the two tails of the distribution, i.e., well below and well above average BF levels. The only way to know your body fat for sure is to die and be dissected; because this is a tad bit extreme, take the absolute BF% measure with a grain of salt. Concentrate instead on trends measured by the same trainer using the same protocols and at roughly the same time of day/menstrual cycle.

HTH,
Kim

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Old 11-13-2007, 07:56 AM   #7  
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This is a really good question, nineteen - I wondered the same thing!

Our stats are SO similar... we are near the same height, roughly the same weight, and our body fats are identical! I was actually THRILLED to know mine was 22%, considering I was also told that it was the recommended ideal for women regarding both fitness and good health. Besides, would you have really wanted to know your percent body fat BEFORE you lost all your weight? I know I sure as **** would NOT! And despite both of us thinking we have a long way to go, according to Meg, we are both in the "fitness" zone.

14% to see abs, eh Kim? Wow, I have an even longer way to go than I thought You should know, though, miss 8 pack abs goddess

I have a feeling that some women might be able to see abs at 16% or even 18% if they have some fat distributed in other places.
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Old 11-13-2007, 01:26 PM   #8  
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Shane~

I know, our stats are almost identical!! Kicking butt and taking names From looking at your pictures, we really do look like we're at the same weight. As for that 14% number...hmmm...I don't think that's happening for me. That seems pretty damn low.

I think I'm going to aim for 20% body fat, and see how I feel when I get there.

Oh btw Shane, your progress pics are amazing!!!
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Old 11-13-2007, 01:31 PM   #9  
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Meg~ Thank you for the info! I think you're right that exercise is key. You mentioned high intensity exercise -- that's tricky for me -- I have fibromyalgia. I do exercise, and it definitely helps, but if I overdo it, I get terrible flare-ups. But maybe I can slowly work my way up. I used to see a physical therapist and with her I was able to reach a pretty good level of conditioning. That was a couple years ago, though, and I'm finding it difficult to get back to that level of shape on my own. It's a fine line between exercise that makes my pain and energy better and exercise that leaves me exhausted and in pain.

Hmm...sounds like I should try to track down a good physical therapist again.

Last edited by nineteen; 11-13-2007 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 11-13-2007, 03:35 PM   #10  
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Shane - I think you may be right about some women seeing abs at 16%-18% because even where I am now (19%-20%) I have definite lines down either side of my stomach, around my lower tummy and down the middle of my upper abs. You can also just faintly see my "4 pack" lol if I have just worked them - I thought i was making it up but my sister walked in when I was changing in the bathroom and was like "holy cow - you can see those!" and proceeded to trace them out.

I carry the majority of weight on the lower half (hips, bum and thighs!) so with my current BF% I am very lean through the arms, back, chest, calves and stomach.

I think it depends a lot of where you feel comfortable being as well because I know for me I would not enjoy having to be hellishly strict ALL the time just to have abs. Just so not me lol. But another person may be fine with that.

Trial and error Anything in the fitness range is great!
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Old 11-15-2007, 07:47 PM   #11  
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Hi all

I was just wondering if the BF% ranges change with age? i.e., if "fitness" is different depending on your age?
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