Saturday, February 09, 2008

Can You Be Too Lean?

Obesity gets all the attention. But believe or not, there are people at the opposite end of the fatness problem, those who are too lean. That is, their body fat percentage is too low to be healthy. It may come as a surprise that many in that category are athletes – people we generally consider physically superior. In fact, a study involving Olympic athletes indicates some may be putting their health at risk.

So, when it comes to body fat, just how lean should we be?

Many fitness professionals recognize the following table. Some may factor in age, but, generally, the categories are about right for everyone, regardless of age.

Category (Body Fat Percentage):

  • Excessively Lean (Men) Under 5% -- (Women) Under 12%
  • High Performance (Men) 5 – 9% -- (Women) 12 – 17%
  • Good Fitness (Men) 10 – 20% -- (Women) 18 – 25%
  • Marginal (Men) 21 – 25% -- (Women) 6 – 30%
  • Obese (Men) Over 25% -- (Women) Over 30%
[The table is from Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men an Women.]

Read the full report about the study: Olympic Athletes May Risk Health for Trim Physique.

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