The fascination in the world for fitness is such that terms like weight gain, lean weight gain or lean muscle have become familiar and their practices standardised. However, it’s important to understand that these practices are designed for professionals and not for the majority of the population. Fitness professionals follow these diets in order to achieve a TEMPORARY physical condition to compete in competitions. So you must understand that to achieve a bigger and leaner physical condition, you have to make some serious sacrifices that are not always good for your health, and can sometimes be dangerous. Especially during the period of preparation….
What is lean muscle?
The rules of a lean muscle diet are very strict. Everything is calibrated to obtain a ripped body: the number of repetitions, the number of sets, their duration, numbers of calories, nutrient distribution, food choice, meal times, water quantity, absolutely everything is calculated to the gram and to the minute nearly … You go well beyond losing a few pounds. The goal of a lean muscle diet is to lose a maximum of fat and subcutaneous water to have perfect muscular definition! And yet even in the sports field the percentage of body fat is controlled.
The % of fat content,
The recommended minimum percentage for male athletes is around 5 to 6% of body fat while the recommended adiposity (fat content) is between 9 and 13%. According to a study by Pennsylvania State University, the average percentage of fat in men is 15 to 20%. Below 5%, the level of fat is considered worrying and a sign of poor health, even among top athletes.
For women, the minimum level recommended is between 12% and 16% while the recommended rate is between 25% and 30%. Below these recommended standards, you might think you have the dream body but certain metabolic disorders will almost certainly take place because fat has real life functions; it is not only there to give you a hard time, on the contrary….
The risks of lean muscles
- You are always cold! The main role of fat is to adapt to the ambient temperature, maintaining body temperature and isolating organs from the cold. If you do not have enough fat your body will have to work harder to keep warm and it will get tired!
- You are always hungry. Fat cells secrete a hormone called leptin, the hormone of satiety. When the fat cells are full you are not hungry, as soon as they are empty, the stomach gurgles. The lower the body fat, the more your fat cells are empty but you can’t make them disappear. Unfortunately, from about the age of 20, the number of your fat cells is fixed and these cells will be with you all your life.
- It affects your fertility: For men, a low leptin level reduces testosterone production. Your body believes it’s time to survive and not to reproduce. As a consequence, the quality of your sperm declines and its the same principle for women. Fat cells secrete oestrogen which is important for the good health of your reproductive organs. Below 22% body fat and oestrogen is insufficient. Your menstrual cycles can be disrupted and even terminated.
- It weakens your bones: Oestrogen secreted by fat cells helps to fix calcium on the bones.
- You lack energy: When you are very lean, you have no energy reserves and your body can not perform properly because it is hungry. In addition, a low fat level is related to low blood pressure and a drop in hormone levels, which also leads to fatigue.
- You don’t recover as well: An overly strict diet is often associated with a lack of nutrients, the secret of a good recovery is found in a good diet.
- Your skin and your face need fat: One of the primary roles of fat is aesthetics! Yes yes you read it correctly. A face without fat is a face with marked features, hollow cheeks and a dull complexion …
- You sacrifice your social life: It’s all well and good to follow a diet without any deviation and congratulations if you manage it! But at what cost? No more outings with friends, no more drinks on the terrace and no more of granny’s cakes. Bringing back the tupperware from the office is one thing, but its another when you having to frequent restaurants. And now you’re going to tell me that you do it for yourself and not for others. That’s true … Nevertheless, food should be a pleasure and not a constraint otherwise you’ll quickly risk crossing the red line and developing certain eating disorders…
- Forget the fat burners: whether its fat burners or other sports food supplements, their benefits are limited. These are usually chemical bombs which are harmful to our health. Moreover, ANSES had alerted about their dangerousness (1)
The moral of the story? Learn to love your shape, ladies! There is not one acceptable figure. Each body has its own history and its own beauty, highlight it and you’ll see it will make you feel good!
If you are entering a bikini fitness competition and want to lose weight and a little fat, a simple rebalancing of food combined with some physical activity in which you incorporate a little bodybuilding will be sufficient to achieve the goals you have set out for yourself.