How Low can your Body Fat Percentage go?
We've settled on the healthy body fat percentage.
The next question is - how low is too low for body fat percentage in women?
First, our body requires a certain amount of fat for good health. Fat helps regulate body temperature, store energy and cushion/ insulate organs. The percentage of our body weight that makes up this "essential fat" is about 10% of body weight for women (4% for men).
Beyond this, well, the consensus view seems to say that the minimum body fat percentage in women should be between 13% and 17% though there's no hard and fast "rule" on what's too low.
You could tell when your body fat is too low by whether or not you're menstruating regularly. If your periods stop, it's possible you don't have enough body fat to nurture a fetus should you become pregnant.
It's also signaling to you that you're infertile, temporarily, that is.
I would say don't see this as a way for birth control because it isn't. You need healthy hormonal function not just for menstruation and fertility; you need it for many other bodily functions, for instance, the health of your bones and heart.
If you stop menstruating, a condition known as amenorrhea, you could experience a decrease in hormones that can cause premature bone loss due to insufficient estrogen production.
However, experts say the point of amenorrhea is different for every woman. You could become amenorrhea at 18%, I at 16% or 14%.
The other thing is this - when your body fat percentage gets too low, your energy levels and exercise performance decline and your tolerance for sickness like cold/flu weakens as well.
My take is this, too low a body fat percentage isn't a healthy thing for you and me.
Too High Body Fat Percentage?
We've touched on the "too low" body fat percentage in women.
What about if it's too high?
I don't have to tell you this, right?
Of course, it's obesity.
It's a serious health threat for women if it's too high - increased incidence of breast cancer after menopause and higher rates of endometrial cancer. It's also connected with various birth defects, obstetric and gynecological complications and infertility.
OK, at this stage, I would like to talk about the difference between just being thin and being lean.
You see, I may be thin and light in body weight, yet still be flabby and have a high body fat percentage; or I may be heavier in weight, yet be firm and lean and have a low body fat percentage.
The main thing isn't on the high or low body fat percentage - it's to differentiate lean weight and fat weight or body fat.
Lean weight includes the muscles, bones,tendons, ligaments and water in your body while fat weight is the fat stored in the fat cells and the organs of your body.
For good health, you should have a high proportion of lean weight compared to fat weight.
The muscle part of lean weight produces work and burns off fat calories. When there's too much fat weight or body fat, it acts as excess baggage for your body and can be harmful to your health.
I think your concern could also be centered around BMI and body fat percentage......
You want to know what's the difference between the two.....
Both are methods used to estimate how "fat" you're. But body fat percentage is a more useful tool because it distinguishes between the weight of fat and that of your lean body mass - bones, organs, muscle and connective tissue.
BMI takes into consideration only height and weight; it may not be accurate if you've a lot of muscle mass, which weighs more than fat.
BMI may not be accurate also if you've little muscle. As you get older, your muscle mass tends to decline, so your weight and BMI may stay the same even though a greater proportion of your weight is fat.
So, don't just rely on your BMI results to determine whether you're healthy.
Besides BMI, take into consideration other health factors as well such as your activity level, blood pressure and cholesterol, and how much body fat you've and where it's located.
Here, I would like to say that the location of the fat is probably more important than the amount of fat you got.
Lots of body fat testing methods don't tell you how much fat is located at say, your stomach area and how much is located at the hips, thighs, arms, etc.
Excessive deep stomach fat is linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other serious conditions, whereas excess fat in the hips and thighs carry lower such health risks.
Per the National Institutes of Health, to gauge risk of disease, use your waist circumference - if your waist measurement is more than 35 inches, you're probably at higher risk for the diseases mentioned above......
Eh.. more useful than either BMI or a gauge of body fat percentage in women, you think?
Don't be "Petty" about Body Fat Percentage
All said, I think you don't have to be "petty" about body fat percentage in women. Just know that it's a method used to measure your body fat.
Be real! Your age is a major factor for changes in body fat percentage - as you age, you tend to store more fat due to lowered metabolism and hormonal changes.
So, don't panic when your fat percentage shoot up!