The abs or abdominal muscle is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen as well as that of other mammals. It is also most commonly discussed among fitness groups on how to reduce body fat and get six-pack abs.
The body fat is indeed a normal part of every human body, it serves to store and provide energy for metabolic processes for everything from your heart beating to your legs sprinting. There are several types of fat, such as brown fat, visceral fat, and subcutaneous fat. The type of fat that sits on the surface of our body is the subcutaneous fat, the fat that is visible upon seeing yourself in the mirror.
Male and Female have different fat percentages and has different levels of fat needed for visible abs:
Male Body Fat Percentage:
5-9% – Having this level of body fat puts you in the genetic elite of competition bodybuilder. But with a body fat level of 5% is incredibly challenging to deal with and not good for the body.
10-14% – The range of body fat is still lean which still makes your abs still visible and considered healthier than 5-9% range.
15-19% – This range has less likely visible muscles but is still considered healthy.
20-24% – There is a higher chance that your mid-section will be soft and abs are not visible. This is the higher end average for males.
25-29% – At this level, you will not see your abs at all. For men, this is already considered as obese. You must already be considering checking upon your lifestyle choices that will help you get back to a healthy shape.
30-34% – A warning sign for health difficulties. This range will make you a contender for diabetes and puts you at a high risk of heart disease later on.
Female Body Fat Percentage:
5-9% – This is a very dangerous range for a female. Women’s body at least needs to have at least 8-10% of body fat to live. The abs will be visible but this level of body fat will compromise one’s health.
10-14% – This is the lowest acceptable body fat that a woman can go to. This is would result in a very athletic physique of a woman’s body, with great muscle definition, and visible abs.
15-19% – Females with this level of fat have an athletic build, great shape, and very little body fat. The definition on the lower abs starts to fade but there is still a distinct ab definition in the obliques. A strict diet and exercise plan is needed if you are aiming for this range.
20-24% – This is considerably low to a low average level of body fat. Muscle definition is not perfect but one’s natural curves will be very much part of the body.
25-29% – When you reach this range, your body may start to have a softer look. One may have very little excess fat but the definition may be minimal. This is considered to be above average on most medical standards.
30-34% – This level of body fat states that you are on your way to obesity. Abdominal muscles are not visible, and one’s feelings may not be great.
35-39% – This is a red flag for weight loss intervention. Like men in this range, body fat percentage this high is a contender for diabetes and an elevated risk of heart disease in the long run.
Body fat can be measured by these most common ways:
Skinfold calipers. This measures the thickness of one’s fat in various body areas.
Body circumference measurements. Involves measuring the circumference of various body parts which includes waist, arms, and legs.
Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). A method that uses two x-rays to estimate the composition of body fat.
Hydrostatic weighing. A form of underwater weighing which measures body composition according to body’s density.
Air displacement plethysmography (Bod Pod). This process calculates body composition and density using air.
Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). This machine sends electrical currents through one’s body to determine how much is fat and how much is muscle.
Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS). This device uses electrical currents as well but with a different form of technology and equations to calculate body fat.
Electrical impedance myography (EIM). This is similar to BIA and BIS which uses electrical currents in the body but in smaller areas.
3-D body scanner. These are imaging devices that use infrared sensors to generate a model of your body, and an equation estimates the percentage of body fat based on your shape.
Multi-compartment models. This method uses several of the mentioned techniques to split the body into several parts to calculate the body fat percentage of each area.
Most of the mentioned methods require, of course, a trained professional in taking the measurements. The simple way to track your fat percentages at home is through body circumference measurements and bioelectrical impedance which is usually found on certain scales.
You just can’t see your abs, but it is just there…
Any product, service or workout that are considered quick fixes for a flat stomach won’t give you what you are aiming for in just a snap, you have to work hard for it.
Here are some pointers that you need to know about your abs:
Everybody has abdominal muscles. Everyone has six-pack abs, they are just hidden under a layer of fat depending on your size or how strong your abs could be under a pile of fat.
Fat never turns into a muscle, they are two different things. Similar to water and oil, fat sits on top of your muscles. You may have very strong abs ready to pop out, but if they are hidden under your fats, no exercise can give you a flat stomach because it doesn’t address the fat on top of your muscles.
You may only possess a flat stomach when you have a low enough percentage of body fat. The reason why there are millions of ab workouts on YouTube is that people are aware that there tons of money in the ab industry since people are so much into flattening their stomachs.
This is a rude awakening for everyone who tortures themselves working out 30 minutes up to an hour a day on any available ab machines or enduring the 1000 crunches a day for that flat stomach, “You Cannot Target or Spot-Reduce Belly Fat”. This also applies to your other target areas on your body.
Doing Thighmaster workouts to target your inner thighs. This will not make your thigh fats disappear. It can just possibly make your thigh muscles under your fat stronger.
Doing more arm exercises to tone your arms. This won’t work in making your arms less flabby, it will only make the arm muscles under the fat stronger.
Doing thousands of ab crunches will not make your stomach smaller. It can only make your ab muscles under the fat stronger.
Don’t be confused, as you may start to question your fitness trainers and dieticians. Working out can help preserve muscles, given that you have proper nutrition that goes along with your regular exercises. But don’t expect that exercise alone can reduce the fat in a certain area of your body.
Loss of belly fat will depend on your age, weight, sex, and genetics. One’s body will start to lose fat in a certain order, from certain parts of the body that is uncontrollable. Scientifically, men normally have a higher percentage of fat compared to women in the abdominal area. While women have more fat in the areas of thighs, hips, and stomach.
Following these tips will get you flat stomach if you have the perseverance and patience to work hard for it and you are willing to push yourself to your limits:
Consume fewer calories. You need to know how much is your current calorie count and start planning to lessen your intake.
Consume more vegetables. This means you have to include leafy greens and similar vegetables to a big portion of your diet.
Eat good carbs at better times. When you consume carbs, aim for starchy carbs like sweet potatoes, rice, squash, and the likes. Look for carbs that are not processed or in liquid form.
When you eat carbs, the body best handles it after a workout. The energy depleted and the hormonal changes that occur after a tough workout are the best environment to introduce carbs.
Eat lots of Protein. Protein should be constant on your meal plate. This undoubtedly helps conserve the muscle you have as calories are induced as you start to lose weight.
Pick Healthy Fats. If you want back to cut on calories on your snacks, switch your favorite bag of chips or bar of chocolate to healthier choices, for example, avocados, olive oil or mixed nuts.
When it comes to proper nutrition, you have to take note of these things:
- Where you are starting – Track your calories and also take photos week after week to track your progress.
- What you are doing/looking to accomplish – Define your goals and the reason why you are doing it.
- How are you going to define your progress – Decreasing calories, eating more proteins, veggies, and fruits
- Start simple and add intensity as you move on
In conclusion, gradually change your diet and build your healthy eating habits for more effective and permanent results. Things won’t happen overnight, not even within minutes nor hours, it takes to process and hard work. Don’t also starve yourself or restricting your calories too much as this may cause trouble to your hormones that will halt your efforts to lose your body fats and compromise your health.
Are you curious to know your body fat percentage? Click HERE to learn more!