Insights: What It Takes to Be Lean


What is the cost of being lean? What does it take to get to the sort of body fat levels that most people aspire to? In this week’s Insights, I borrow from the brilliant infographic by Precision Nutrition which helps to focus the mind on what a healthy amount of body fat is.

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Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • The Cost of Getting Lean infographic by Precision Nutrition
  • What certain percentages of body fat mean and the types of people that have them
  • What it takes to have a certain amount of body fat in terms of food intake, diet planning, sleep, and exercise.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sometimes there is such a thing as skinny fat. So you can be skinny on the outside but have quite a lot of visceral fat, which is fat around the organs, fat within the body, and that can be very unhealthy.
  • Having more than 20% body fat for males and more than 30% body fat for females is unhealthy.
  • Having between 15% and 20% body fat for males and between 25% to 30% body fat is healthy.
  • In a healthy state, women are always going to carry more body fat than men.
  • Olympic, canoe and kayak athletes, professional baseball and softball players, have 13% to 15% body fat for males and 23% to 25% body fat for females.
  • Olympic swimmers, professional hockey players, and Olympic volleyball players maintain a body fat percentage of between  10% and 12% for males and between 20% and 22% for females.
  • Olympic-level boxers, wrestlers, sprinters, and gymnasts have 6% to 9% body fat for males and 16% to 19% body fat for females.
  • It shouldn’t necessarily be an ambition to get super lean but more to enjoy life and still have healthy percentages of body fat.

Action Steps:

  • Be aware of what it takes to be lean.
  • When you measure fitness, go by what you’re able to achieve with your body and less about what it looks like.

Leanne said:

“You can have a healthy lifestyle that is not very hard to maintain but still have up to 22% body fat for women or 12% for males, even 25% for women or 15% for males. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go much lower than that unless there’s a good reason why you need to.”

“It’s good to have a certain amount of body fat. You’ve got that as a reserve if you like. Trying to get any leaner than that does not always bring the benefits that you might expect, and it’s much harder than you’re probably anticipating.”

Thanks for listening!

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Links to things mentioned in the show:

More from Leanne Spencer:

Bodyshot Performance

Bodyshot Performance Limited Facebook page

Remove the Guesswork BOOK by Leanne Spencer

Rise and Shine BOOK by Leanne Spencer

Leanne’s Email

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