Percentage of body fat: How far can we naturally lower it?
One of the most frequent doubts when doing weight training and a well-planned diet focused on hypertrophy is to know how much muscle or what is our minimum percentage of fat that we can reach naturally.
This question, in many cases, is confusing because the world of fitness is full of references that are proclaimed natural when in fact they are not, so today we will try to put a little light on the percentage of body fat and as far as we can download it naturally.
If we go back to the time of the Old School and see the muscle quantity-quality ratio of the athletes of the time we observed that, except for first-rate bodybuilders like Larry Scoot, Sergio Oliva, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno or Frank Zane among others, there were no giant bodies with a low percentage of fat .
Even so, if we compare the bodies and the mass-fat ratio of the aforementioned bodybuilders, many of whom admitted having taken steroids , not with the current top-level bodybuilders but with the fitness models that are proclaimed natural to the four winds, we see that those of the Old School are at first sight more natural.
They sell you that if you do not get to be like them, it’s because you do not train, you nourish yourself, you supplement them at your level and / or because you’re lazy
The problem is that many of the people who train conscientiously, and have as reference these natural models, like Ulisses Jr., Steve Cook or Jeff Seid, believe blindly what their idols proclaim to the four winds, which is not more than ensuring that they do not take anabolics, which are totally natural, and that if you do not get to be like them it’s because you do not train at their level, because you do not nourish yourself as you should, because you do not take the necessary supplements or simply because you are lazy.
You have to have a realistic view of the current situation of professional fitness and that is impossible to be at that level of muscle and definition without the use of steroids, and more without ever making a stage of volume, because these models are in perpetual definition muscular. You can have a very good balanced body and muscle with a workout, rest and ideal diet and all well periodized, but with some natural limits.
It is clear that the use of these illegal substances does not exempt you from having to train hard and follow a very demanding nutritional plan, but these people take advantage of this situation to sell miraculous supplements that will put you like them in a short time when in reality is not true.
Consequences of a very low percentage of fat
There is no natural limit of percentage of body fat but lowering 6% for a long time usually has side effects that you will have to suffer, and that is that our body does not like to be with a low amount of adipose tissue .
We must bear in mind that adipose tissue is the energy reserve that our body stores to be able to use it in situations where the caloric intake of the food we eat does not cover our daily activity. It is nothing more than a warehouse to turn to in order to survive.
The body to notice that the percentage of fat is falling more than necessary will make important metabolic changes like increase hunger, lose muscle mass that does not need and that has to move, low libido because it does not find you healthy … The consequence is the opposite of what these “natural” fitness models show in their social networks, that is, to end up with a body without rockiness, with little volume, less shapes, more round ….
To maintain that rockiness and not look like a strip they use steroids that are not more than testosterone, with which you avoid some of these problems (although being able to suffer a long list of side effects), being able to reach absurd limits of percentage of fat with an amount of lean mass not suitable for true natural fitness athletes.
The FFMI (Fat Free Mass Index)
There are a lot of features that you can see at first glance to know if you are resorting to the use of steroids or not , but discovering this is not the goal of this post, but knowing how far we can get naturally and for that we have the FFMI.
The Fat Free Mass Index (fat-free lean mass index) will help us to know the capacity to retain muscle mass given our height, weight and percentage of fat. This relationship is directly proportional to the good or bad anabolic genetics that you have, but the better the better training, diet and rest you get.
Eminencies such as Lyle McDonald or Alan Aragon consider that a natural person with excellent genetics, who follows a neat training and perfect nutrition can not exceed a FFMI of 25 points, so if someone approaches 25 it means that it is not natural almost with total security.
Form status according to the FFMI
To calculate the FFMI we need to know the height in meters, the weight in kilos and the% of body fat (this is calculated either with lipocalíbre or with a professional bioimpedance scale).
First we must calculate the kilos of muscle that are only subtracting the weight of the fat from the total weight and the FFMI is calculated by dividing those kilograms of muscle between the height.
Known this we can know the state of physical form in which we are depending directly on the FFMI points that we of.
Now you only have to change the kilos of weight or the% of fat to know the natural limits to which your body can reach without passing the 25 points or where would be your natural limit for a certain amount of weight and a certain percentage of fat.
For example, my best fitness has been 82kg with 8% body fat, which for 179cm gives a total of 23.66 points of FFMI. If for example, for my height I had arrived, at 86kg with 7% fat I would give 25.08 points of FFMI . Exceeding 24 points is already a limit.