Healthy fat percentage.

Discussion in 'Diet & Nutrition' started by Sci, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    If my long term goal is to be around 10% bodyfat, but my current levels of bodyfat are above 15%, should I cut or bulk first? My estimation of current bodyfat levels is about 18%, based on bodyfat scale and visual skinfold measurements.

    What are the healthy ranges for someone in a cut and bulk cycle...10 being the lower range. 10&-15%, 10%-20%...? What is your opinion?
  2. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Hey Sci. Lyle has written a lot about the subject, and I think his advice is not to exceed ~15% bodyfat during bulks to avoid a sort of snowball effect of fat gain once you start getting up there a bit for various hormonal reasons. I think this is based on research into p-ratios on how people seem to partition calories at different levels of bodyfat.

    That said, I'm not honestly sure how much difference it makes. If nothing else, allowing decently high bodyfat during bulks makes it extremely difficult to know how much actual muscle mass you're carrying. This is one of the reasons so many people get stuck in perpetual bulk/fat land, I think, because every time they start getting into reasonably lean territory (e.g. ~12-15%), their strength suffers and they have to eat a big piece of humble pie.

    Personally, I wouldn't go over ~15% bodyfat at this point. If you've been training for many years (i.e. aren't in a position to partition calories awesomely as novices are), it seems pointless to me.
  3. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    Thanks Mikey. That makes sense to me.
  4. Joe.Muscle

    Joe.Muscle Active Member

    I think 12 % is a good number for overall health and fitness.

    Lower than that IME takes effort and like Mikey said I don't see any benefit in going above 15%.

    I was told once by a wellness nurse that all things being equal to lose 3% bodyfat the average person has to lose about 3 pounds per 1%.

    So if that is accurate you would only need lose 9 pounds to get 12%.

    From my real world expirence and from me doing this lifting stuff seriously now for 16 years I would say the above numbers are pretty accurate in my expierence.
  5. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    I think 10% bodyfat is easily sustainable for someone who lifts consistently. You wouldn't even need to do cardio or count calories to maintain 10%.

    Ideally, I would like to stay around 8-10%, closer to 8 after I'm done growing. It is nice to get in the sub-10% range occasionally since you really start to see what sorts of muscle gains you have made when the fat drops that low, assuming you diet sensibly so you do not lose tons of muscle. But it is not necessary to go that low if you are going to bulk again afterwards.
  6. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    Thanks Totenanz. Nutrition is and dieting is where i get lost sometimes.
  7. Joe.Muscle

    Joe.Muscle Active Member

    I think genetics play a big role. For example I have been working out consistently for 16 years. I have been eating basically clean within reason for 14 if those years. What I mean is getting most of my calories in a pretty balanced and healthy way.

    And for whatever reason I hover around 14 to 15 % bodyfat regardless.

    Now when I do a cut I can get to 8%... And what usually happens at that weight is everyone thinks I stopped
  8. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    Is one pound/week a good target in a cut?
  9. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    I think you may be underestimating just how lean 10% bodyfat is. 10% bodyfat is, for all intents and purposes, 6-pack, fitness model type ripped. "Being able to see your abs" can happen even in the mid to high teens for some people. I think a more reasonable figure is that a healthy, resistance training and proper eating dude can maintain ~12-15% bodyfat reasonably easily without going crazy counting calories. Women would be higher, probably +5-10% higher.

    This chart seems about right:

  10. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    What sort of bodyfat level have you been able to maintain without too much difficulty? You yourself seem to prefer to stay leaner, has it been a struggle to stay in the range where abs are visible? I'm asking out of genuine curiosity.

    I am basing this totally on my own experience, so it's probably different for other people, I'm sure. But for me, it seems like it really only gets hard to maintain leanness when I get under 10% - that requires some attention to stay that way, but right around 10% is almost effortless, provided I continue to lift and eat sensibly without going crazy with feeding binges on the weekends, eating too many treats or anything else that is obviously retarded to do if you are trying to stay sub-10%. I always assumed that it was mostly sub-10 that the hormones start getting skewed to the point where the body is going to be making it difficult to maintain, because that has been my experience. If you can cut down to 10%, you should be able to maintain 10%. Cutting down is a lot harder than maintaining.
  11. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    My point was more the objective numbers - how are you measuring your bodyfat? I can maintain ~10% probably without TOO much difficulty, but it'd probably require ~2000 kcals daily or less. I have more fun eating 500-1000 more kcals than that, so I tend to hover more in the ~12-15% range :)
  12. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    For me, around 12/13% is a good compromise. I still have visible abs and my arms are quite defined. I'm not fast bulking though so I can keep tabs on things more easily; If I feel like I'm adding too many fat ounces, I just back off the carbs a bit for a week and I'm back where I want to be. I'll probably decide to get beach-lean again at some point and my guess is that I'm no more than 2 months away from that in my current state. I'm happy with that.

    If I was in your shoes, Sci, I would cut for a while until the little lady is pleased and then manage/monitor things more closely from then on. You are in this for the long-haul so looking good for your lass along the way makes sense to me. ;)
  13. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member


    I'm strictly basing it on calipers and formulas from linear software. Not perfect, I know, but I figure if I have a blurry six pack that I'm at 10% and usually the calipers match up. I realize that caliper measurements rely on the person doing the measuring to be honest.

    I guess maybe part of the reason why I think 10% isn't hard to maintain is because I can still eat a lot at that bodyfat percentage. For someone Sci's height, if he were to cut down to 10% now, that would probably leave him around 185 lbs or so, which has his caloric needs probably around 2700 or so, that shouldn't be too difficult to maintain. Assuming he bulks up to near his genetic max and ends up at an even 200 @ 10%, that's 3000 calories or so to maintain. Obviously if he keeps lifting to maintain his physique, caloric needs would probably be a bit higher. 3000 calories doesn't sound too bad to me.
  14. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    Yeah, thats the plan...cut down to 10%, then go for a "slow-bulk", "auto-regulate bulk", or whatever you want to call it. Basically adding lean mass a bit at a time, without porking up like in a fullscale bulk. Basically, like Lol and Mikeynov and some others have chosen to do, I want to stay on the leaner side of the tracks in my 30s and 40s, even if that means slightly lower-speed lean mass gain, I am in it for the long haul this time.
    I fully acknowledge Totentanz that your point about fullscale bulking being superior in as far as speed of lean mass gains is most likely very true, but as I get closer to my potential, and my age goes up, I am more interested in being lean more often than not.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  15. Sharring

    Sharring New Member

    On the other end of the scale, are there any areas where you should stay above? I got my body fat measured at an inbody720 machine (those calipers show me 3% no matter how hard I try so they are useless) and the machine showed 6.3%. I don't know much about body fat and what's "normal".. Reason I'm asking is because after I had it taken, and started taking an interest in what other's have as a curiosity, I've found I'm somewhat "below average" - and some tell me it's unhealthy..

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