I have been intrigued by this question-‘What is the ideal body fat percentage for men?’ for a very long time and would love to explain it with the concept of “diminishing law of marginal utility”
“The law of diminishing marginal utility is a law of economics stating that as a person increases consumption of a product ( in this case reducing his body fat levels to become ripped ), there is a decline in the marginal utility that person derives from consuming each additional unit of that product.”
What is the unit, where the utility of consuming each additional unit of that product starts declining?
I will peg that number at 12 percent body fat.
Find below statistics of body fat levels of 1000+ Indian Men taken from the complete body fat analysis we did at my Health Club in the past few years:
Body Fat Percentage of Men
Below 10 0.1%
Now, 650+ men have more than 20% of body fat percentage which clearly hides any muscle definition, tone and that extra fat ( especially on the face and belly) just looks ugly!
If a person works hard and loses body fat, his health will dramatically improve, his face will start to look more angular and he will lose inches from his waist.
Is it worth going from 20-25% body fat to somewhere around 12%?
Know that 12% percent is the body fat level if attainted by any man would make him happy and satisfied overall.
12% will signify slight visibility of six-pack, and if you have a good amount of lean, proportionate muscle, you will attract stares wherever you go (especially from the fairer sex):)
Following is the lifestyle required to maintain this fat level:
1) He follows the 80/20 rule. 80 percent he eats healthy homemade food
2) 20 percent of the time he drinks one-two times in moderation, he eats buffets, desserts, pizzas and burgers. He knows his limits and stops before it starts getting too much!
3) He weight trains a few times a week and stays active overall. He does other activities like yoga, HIIT, swim or any sport. Basically, fitness is his lifestyle and not an event for him
4) He hardly takes supplements, as he is under no pressure to get the extra shredded look. To improve his health and for convenience sake, he takes a scoop of whey, multivitamins and omega-3
5) He never follows a fad diet and eats all macronutrients in good proportions. No high protein diets, nor low carb/fat diets.
6) He loves eating healthy fats and knows its very good for his health
Sure, if he knows there is a vacation/occasion coming up, he gives himself 2-3 months and starts making few specific changes (nothing fancy ) to go from 12% body fat to 8-10% body fat to look hot and sexy!
So basically year around he maintains anything around 11-12% and works a bit harder for few months a year to lose an inch or two.
This way he doesn’t obsess about his looks and can easily give MUCH more time to his career, family.
If you recall the table above, this category of ripped lies between 10-14%, where 12% can be slated as the optimal body fat percentage for most men.
Once he starts going below this level, every percentage drop will require hard work and will be met with a decline in the marginal utility (although, being at the lower end of this range may be possible for short periods of time like during a vacation )
In today’s day and age, being ripped means going below 10%!
Its because over the decades the idea of a perfect male physique has been distorted. When we see movies like 300, Wolverine etc and see extremely ripped guys, it sets unrealistic standards for the male body.
Ramifications– an obsessive lifestyle that may include extreme diets, long hours in the gym every day, very high protein diets, excessive use of supplements, or even drug and steroid use.
Why going below 10% is futile?
Did you know: Arnold Schwarzenegger competed at around 9 percent body fat in world bodybuilding championships.
Steve Reeves had a similar body fat percentage when he became Mr Universe 1950.
If worlds most well build men of the century used to COMPETE at approximately 9 % for world bodybuilding titles, why would people like you and me, would want to go in single low digits?
I still remember when I got my fashion portfolio done way back in 2007. The effort took to achieve a range of 7 percent body fat took the life out of me.
Thank God I didn’t have too many responsibilities at the time, but even so, everything came to a standstill- I was eating boiled food, had dramatically reduced my salt intake, and was spending hours in the gym every day and I lost a lot of muscles in the process:(
It really didn’t feel that good. I am sure there are better ways to achieve these body fat levels, but for fathers, husbands, and entrepreneurs like you and me, devoting ENORMOUS amounts of energy and time just to look extra ripped is futile, and in most cases unnecessary.
Don’t obsess over your body fat levels.
Focus on becoming strong, healthy and functional. Get enough size and gain muscles.
Let mirror be your guide.
Sure you will gain some fat while gaining muscles, so be it.
Once you have reached classic muscle proportions, slightly cut until you think you look good ( who cares whether its 12% 13% or even 15% )
Life is meant to be enjoyed, and building a fabulous body is about balance, both in the gym and outside.
In the end, I strongly feel your fitness and health goals should enhance your life, not consume it.
What do you think should be the ideal body fat percentage for men? Would you like to add anything? Let’s take over the discussion on our free member’s community. It’s Free, join us!