Ask Me Anything: How Lean is Too Lean?

Body Fat Percentage: is there a point where it can be too low? If yes, what if performance isn’t being hindered? Is being low okay then?


1) I’m going to answer your question in terms of sport.

2) Then, I’m going to ask you to reframe it into a different question, and you answer mine.

  1. The amount of fat you have is a spectrum (speedometer if you will) On the right is 100mph (220kph) and on the left is 0 mph (still somehow 22kph). Just replace speed with body fat % and visualize it for this answer. The sport you are competing in is going to be the major deciding factor of what is too lean or not. Ultra-Marathoners don’t receive benefit from carrying excess body fat. Sumo Wrestlers receive a benefit specific to their sport from being heavier (usually carrying extra body fat). Both of these athletes have their own place on the speedometer of what a favorable body fat % is.

How do you know your performance is not being hindered? Could you PR more or faster than you are now if you were not as lean, but had more calories and fat to facilitate extra effort, hormone transport and recovery? Just because your performance isn’t getting worse, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not hindered (in the long game). Play with it. When athletes start approaching single digit fat%, we usually increase their fat intake to maintain and improve performance.

2.  My question for you is: If we take sport/competing off the table and just think long-term, What bodyfat % are you happier at? Don’t get too caught up in the numbers. Get caught up in how you feel.


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