The Truth about Fat

Women are supposed to—and need to—have more fat than men. I could stop right there, but I know it makes you all wonder “what the!?”

Women have approximately 10-13% of essential fat, while men have only 2-5%. Not fair, I know. From there it just gets crazier: female athletes have 14-20% fat, while male athletes only have 6-13% fat. The average female body fat percentage is 25-31% fat, while men’s is 18-24%. That’s a huge difference!

What I’m getting at is something that all women become conscious about more so in the summer: our fat and the potential for a 6-pack.

Honestly, it’s not very normal for women to have 6-pack abs unless she’s training consistently with higher intensity cardio and lifting weights and is eating very well 90% of the time. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it does require hard work and discipline, especially because women have more fat to work with than men.

The biggest reason is our hormones. We have more estrogen and men have more testosterone…. And guess which one is better for muscle-building and which one tends to create more fat? Yep, we women got the short end of the stick on that one.

So this summer I urge you to focus less on your weight and how much fat you feel like you have and focus on what your body can do. Revel in being able to run up stairs without being winded or lift weights from the free weight rack in the gym or take an hour-long class at the gym without keeling over. Focus on keeping your waist-to-hip ratio between 0.75 and 0.86. Measure around your waist just above your belly button and then measure around your hips. Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement and there you go. This is a great indicator of health because for every 1 inch increase in waist circumference, there are a slew of health risks that increase: blood pressure increases by 10%, blood cholesterol level increases by 8%, HDL cholesterol (the good kind) decreases by 15%, triglycerides increase by 18%, and metabolic syndrome risk increases by 18%.

Don’t get worked up about a little extra fat—just focus on a healthier diet and working a little harder in the gym, not longer!