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Can my body fat percentage be too low?

There is a certain amount of fat needed in order for our bodies to perform efficiently.  Some individuals are just naturally thin, and many endurance athletes have very low body fat percentages.  The essential (bare minimum) amount of fat for an individual is 1-3% for a male and 8-12% for a female.  Among other functions, fat is necessary for hormone production.  Levels that are too low could lead to infertility.

I come from a history having extremely low body fat percentage.  I was a national level bodybuilder up until about 7 years ago and have coached hundreds of bodybuilders.  The entire goal for a bodybuilder is to reduce their bodyfat as low as possible to increase the amount of muscular definition that can be seen.

I have noticed a few things when reducing body fat into the "essential" amount of fat that is needed.  No matter the level of calories I have noticed an increase in illness, decrease in immune system strength and increased risk of overall injury.

Unless you are a genetic freak it takes extreme measures for someone to maintain a very low body fat percentage and remember anything that requires extreme measures results in extreme outcomes.  Too low of body fat is not healthy and I have seen things as mentioned above and in the previous post time and time again when body fat is too low.  

Many of my clients will maintain low (ripped) conditions and be completely fine but when the condition gets too low (shredded condition) I notice the illness, immune support and other issues happen.  Like everything else there is a fine line between being in shape and unhealthy lean for most.

There is a minimum amount of essential fat needed for survival. Men need around 3% and women 12%. The question when talking about levels of body fat that low is fitness vs. vitality. Certainly levels that low will have an individual looking fit, but not necessarily vital. Low levels of energy, illness, injuries, and hormonal imbalances can be present when levels are to low.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.