According to the official info, the essential body fat for men is approximately 3% of the total body mass. This technically means that every gram of lard over 3% body fat is extra fat mass (storage). However, getting to 3% is not healthy nor possible unless you are willing to die for bodybuilding. Realistically, 5-8% body fat is the lowest a man get to while remaining on this planet.
In theory, natural bodybuilders can reach 5-8% body fat without the use of supplements, anabolic steroids, GH, clenbuterol and other illegal fat burning agents. However, the reality is a little different.
To reach 5% body fat or close to it, you will have to sacrifice a significant amount of size because we’re all fatter than we think. It’s not uncommon for 220lbs natural to go down to 170lbs to reach this precious number. Since this is a huge hit against the ego, very few finish the mission.
Truth be told, you will experience zero benefits from cutting down to 5% body fat unless you are preparing for a bodybuilding contest. Honestly, you don’t have to go that low to experience all the benefits of being lean – 8-11% is a good number for recreational lifters who want to remain cut.
One of the biggest problems that naturals face when getting lean is the internal and external pressure. When you start to see a skeleton forming in the mirror, you will question your sanity. Moreover, your friends and family will start worrying about you. Don’t be surprised if they arrange an intervention to discuss your anorexia.
To some degree, an obsession with ultra-leanness is a disorder that has many common points with anorexia. Both are caused by a desire to improve your appearance. Both require severe dieting/not eating, and both appear to have a negative impact on your looks in the eyes of others. In reality, very few people can pull off the 5% body fat look without reminding people of the movie “The Machinist” with Christian Bale.
Another obstacle on the way to the mythical 5% body fat would be the hormonal shifts. Dieting is really hard for naturals since your personality can acquire a different nuance. The hormonal changes that come with body fat loss can result in mood swings, aggression, and even depression. The problem will be severe for those who “gain weight just by looking at food”, but even the skinny guys will find it brutal.
Points to remember
– naturals can get to 5-8% BF without drugs
– at 5% BF naturals look malnourished
– all you need is dieting
– cardio can help but is not required
– maintaining 5% body fat unless you are naturally lean is brutal and unhealthy for the most part
– there is no need to ever be 5% body fat unless you’re competing in shows
– most lifters will feel a lot better between 8 and 12% body fat