As we saw in the testosterone book, body fat and testosterone levels are related. In fact, if you have that beer belly, chances are that your testosterone is not optimized (to say the least).
Remember that if you want to be a testosterone fueled warrior, you should look like one. The less body fat, the better, until you reach a limit. Below that limit (and I’m talking 4-6% of body fat) the effect is reversed and the severe caloric restriction among other things needed to reach that state (something that bodybuilders in season or dehydrated fighters know well) will whack your testosterone, bad.
Is there an optimal body fat level?
As always, there is not an absolute truth and you should take into account your body type. I’m not the best genetic specimen, by the way, in fact, I was, all my life, one of those skinny fat guys. Not seemingly fat when I wore a t-shirt, but almost no muscle if you remove it, making me soft and pudgy.
Very bad combo, and if you are skinny-fat too, you know what I mean.
Measuring body fat is difficult and inaccurate without professional equipment (it is difficult in fact even with that equipment because body fat is not equally distributed in every person) but you could reach an estimate if you search for online body fat calculators. You will find several “homemade” methods that will differ, but you will reach similar numbers so you can guess your body fat.
How much is good? Well, this are some estimates for men.
Essential fat: 2-5% body fat
Fit people: 14-17%
Acceptable level: 18-25%
Fat and Obese: above 25%
If you are between 7% and 20% you are optimizing your testosterone levels.
Personally, and I mean personally, I tend to function better around higher numbers in that interval (let’s say 12-18%).
I’ve been below those levels and yes, I could count all my abs but, again, the caloric restriction or dietary juggling that I needed (remember that I’m not a genetic stud) made me weak and tired. So, not worthy.
Why too much body fat will lower your testosterone
As always, I like to know why and how things work, so let me explain why too much body fat will lower your testosterone.
Testosterone is converted to estrogen via the enzyme aromatase, and where is that enzyme? It’s stored in adipose tissue. So if you have less adipose tissue (i.e: body fat) you will have lower conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
The thing is, high estrogen (higher than normal) is not good, your testosterone / estrogen ratio will be bad and higher estrogen levels tend to inhibit release of Luteinizing Hormome (the testosterone precursor) from the pituitary gland, which also causes decreased production.
Women may have the answer: The perfect body fat to get the girl
Let’s face it, you are here for that 😉 so let me give you a hint because it’s possible that, as almost always, women have the answer that we are looking for.
A study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences found that women are not only attracted to masculine testosterone chiseled faces when they are at the fertile stage (if you remember the testosterone book, we saw that women on their menstrual cycle were more attracted to high testosterone men than when they were not ovulating). They are more attracted to a certain waist size too, that seems an evolutionary indicator of attractiveness and good immune systems.
Well, in that study, 29 women in the fertile stage of their menstrual cycle (meaning they were more receptive to sexual cues, and more responsive to masculinity) rated pictures of 69 young white males of all body sizes by their attractiveness, masculinity, and body fat.
And what body fat percentage had the most attractive men to them? About 12%.
So maybe the unconscious biological signalling between fertile women and males have the answer and it is 12%.
There you have it, strive to be fit, but as always, don’t be an idiot nor a bodybuilder in competitive season. Don’t sacrifice your health or well being to reach single digits of body fat, especially if you are not prone to that. You will make thing worse.