Lyle McDonald

Welcome to Bodyrecomposition, the home of Lyle McDonald. Whether your goals are fat loss, muscle gain, or improved performance, if you are looking for scientific, fact based information, you have come to the right place. I've helped thousands to change their bodies for the better.

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July 24, 2014

Low Body Fat in Women, Stubborn Low Back Fat, and Skinny Fat Training

I haven’t done a Q&A in a while and the mailbag is getting a bit full.  So in lieu of boring everyone with another 20-part series on some minutial detail of training, here’s a bunch of questions.

Question: Hello. Do you know any females who are successfully and consistently living at at lower body fat 10-12% using a keto/ low carb diet? Thank you!

Answer: First and foremost, 12% is about the lower limit of essential fat in women.  While you will sometimes have women estimated lower than that, this is an artifact of the equations.   A woman at 10% body fat is dead.  Even at 12%, almost all women will show massive hormonal issues, a lack of health and vigor.  This shouldn’t even be a goal for women, it’s unrealistic and physically damaging in the long-run.

About the lowest body fat I’d suggest any woman even attempt to maintain long-term is 15-16% bodyfat.  She will have a cut upper body, 6-pack abs and legs should be fairly lean (depending on her body fat distribution patterns) but, assuming she’s not doing anything completely idiotic with her diet and training, she should be ok.  Some women won’t even be able to maintain that low level without a loss of menstrual cycle, energy and mental problems and will have to skew higher.

And honestly this has nothing to do with dietary choice.  Keto or carb-based, a woman is not going to easily, or more importantly, healthily maintain that low level of body fat year round. Nor should that be a goal.

Question: Hello. I have been bodybuilding for 5 years, I estimate that I am around 12-13% body fat. My main problem in the lower abs and lower back fat that doesn’t seem do go whatever I do. Which book would be beneficial for my case?

Answer: For men with normal “male” (yes, I’m using the whitecisgendered heteronormative term for this, suck on it) body fat patterning, abs and low back are always the last place to go.  A man will have ripped delts and pecs, shredded legs and still be sloppy around the waist.  It’s just part of being a man (for a woman with normal “female” body fat patterns, hips and thighs are the stubborn area).

Read the rest of Low Body Fat in Women, Stubborn Low Back Fat, and Skinny Fat Training

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