Why It’s Dangerous To Have Too Low Body Fat Percentage

The Risks Of Low Body Fat Percentage

In order to look good and stay healthy, people seem to do whatever they can to lose fat. Numbers on a scale can sometimes deceive you, because muscles are heavier than fat. So focusing on body fat percent instead can show us just how far we have got to go.

If we are looking good, we will feel better, become healthier, and be more content, but the question is: when does it become too much? Body fat is there for a reason, and when we lose too much of it, it becomes a risk to our health.

 

WHAT IS THE IDEAL BODY FAT PERCENTAGE?

This is a tricky question, and the answer is not simple. The ideal percentage varies considerably for men and women and changes with age. The universal healthy amount of body fat for grown men is between 15 and 20%, and between 20 and 25% for women. Several percentages more or less is never a problem, but if a woman has more than 32%, and man more than 25% body fat, it is considered an increased risk of disease.

There are several ways to measure your body fat, but the most accurate one is skinfold testing. By using a caliper, a special tool, your doctor pinches different places on your body (chest, thighs, arms, abdominal region…) and measures the thickness of the fold.
 

HOW LOW IS TOO LOW?

Our bodies need fat: it keeps us alive and protects our internal organs. Essential body fat, which is the amount needed for maintenance of life, is around 13% for women and 3% for men.

Working hard to achieve body fat percentage lower than that can backfire and it represents a serious threat for a person’s health.

Our bodies need fat: it keeps us alive and protects our internal organs.

 

THE RISKS OF HAVING (TOO) LOW BODY FAT PERCENTAGE

Up to some degree, reducing body fat percentage will improve your health, but if it gets too low, it can lead to several health complications.

Your bones can become fragile, you dehydrate, get ill and there is potential loss of reproductive function. If this happens, your body will need a very long time to recover.

When a woman’s body fat drops too low their pituitary gland reduces the production of hormones which affects the ovaries, eventually even stopping the menstrual cycle. The medical complications of this are many and include problems with the heart, shrinkage of internal organs, loss of muscle tissue, stomach problems, shrinkage of internal organs, and damage to the nervous system. What is more (and the most dangerous), it can even lead to death.
 

BUT WHAT ABOUT PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES?

Athletes in general have lower body fat percent, because they have more muscle mass to begin with. Furthermore, lower levels of body fat are connected to improved performance, but when the percent is too low, it can actually decrease a person’s exercise performance.

Bodybuilders are a different category, they aim to have as little fat as possible, but only practice this at certain times, and not all year long. Moreover, they have to take supplements which ensures they keep getting all their nutrients while dieting and working out.
 

WORKING OUT AND KEEPING YOUR BODY FAT PERCENTAGE AT A HEALTHY LEVEL

If you are working out, eating and living healthy, it will certainly improve your overall health. When experiencing good results you become motivated to keep pushing yourself to work harder. But some people might go too far and thus may accidentally endanger their own health and end up with medical complications instead.

Make a meal plan and eat at regular intervals, if you like bike riding and running mind your knees and ankles and by taking joint supplements to protect them; and make sure you have a rest day at least once a week.

‘Eat clean, work mean, get lean’ are types of sayings that can motivate you to do great things, but you should still be careful not to go too far and end up with health problems instead. Staying healthy should be your number one priority when exercising and dieting. Knowing and keeping up with your personal range of body fat percentage plays a huge role in a healthier lifestyle.

 
How do you keep your body fat percentage healthy? Was this article helpful? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Or do you know someone who could benefit from a bit more information on body fat? If so, please hit one of the share buttons below and share it so we can help each other towards a healthier and happier planet.

 

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2 Comments

  • Louis says:

    ou can’t really claim that a certain level of vascularity is ‘unhealthy’. Everyone has differnt genetics therefore vascularity will differ from person to peron. Some may be very vascular at 10%bf while others will need to drop down to 6%bf.
    Their are many possible health risks with maintain low bf. But you can maintain low bf 3% for a long period of time. Even going below 6% for long periods of time would not be advised.
    At 3% you only have the fat surrounding your organs and spinal cord left.
    At this level of bf you will get sick easily, bruise easily, nose bleeds, feel lighheaded, short term memory loss…basically feel like shit. And if your a woman your menstraul cycle is non-existant.

    • Laura Laura says:

      Thank you for this additional info Louis! Do you maybe have a scientific article backing your claims? Would be an interesting read! :) My visceral fat is fluctuating between 1% and 2%.. And menstrual cycle all healthy! Looking forward hearing from you. Happy day! x

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