IMPORTANT! YOU MUST READ THIS BEFORE CONTINUING:
Myth that Women
by Ron Brown, Ph.D., author of The Body Fat Guide
ONE DAY in the gym, a female figure competitor who was days away from her natural competition and who was in peak condition was overheard saying that her body fat percentage was 11%. My friend asked me what my body fat percentage was by comparison. When I told him I was around 7-8% he wondered how it was possible that my body fat percentage was lower than the female competitorís who didnít appear to have an ounce of fat on her. After thinking about this for a while, I eventually realized that although my absolute body fat level was somewhat similar to the female figure competitor'sóperhaps we each carried somewhere between 12 and 13 pounds of body fatómy body fat percentage relative to my overall bodyweight was much lower than hers because I carried around 40-50 pounds more muscle! Furthermore, it occurred to me that the conventional wisdom that females should carry more body fat than males is biased due to a misinterpretation of absolute and relative body fat levels. It's like comparing apples and oranges; absolute and relative body levels are not equivalent. Itís a myth that women need more body fat!
My book, The Body Fat Guide, shows that a 175-pound
male at 15% body fat who gains 12 pounds of muscle or lean body mass will have
lowered his body fat percentage to approximately 14%, even though he lost no
body fat! He is only leaner relative to his overall increased bodyweight from
added muscle, not because he reduced his absolute body fat level. This explains
why males tend to have lower body fat percentages than females; because they
carry more muscle, not because they carry less body fat. In fact, I have
observed that the leanest athletes with the lowest absolute body fat levels at
physique competitions are often the females who probably feel more comfortable
dieting and preparing their own meals than the male competitors.
The usual reasons given to justify why women are supposed to
carry more body fat are attributed to childbirth, female hormones, and cultural
standards of beauty. But the female figure competitor who was 11% body fat was a
healthy and beautiful mom, so none of these reasons appear to apply in her case.
Of course, there is a healthy way and an unhealthy way to arrive at the peak of
condition, and unhealthy methods like drug use, imbalanced diets, and eating
disorders are confounding factors in the association of low body fat levels with
disease conditions. Unhealthy methods are also the main reason why it is
impossible to sustain attained conditioning over long periods. However, if
attained naturally through a sensible, safe, and effective diet and exercise
program, there does not appear to be any sound physiological reason why a woman
shouldnít be as lean, conditioned, fit, strong, and as healthy and productive
as a man for her size and feminine shape, and remain that way. Iím sure the growing number of
females participating in natural physique competitions would agree!