As fitness lovers, most of us are after “aesthetics.” I personally hate the word, but we’ll roll with it for this article. People want the shredded abs, the lean and chiseled face, and visible vascularity, but most don’t really understand what it takes to get there. Being in constant prep and having an extremely low body fat isn’t healthy, especially for long periods of time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for looking great and I believe everyone should push themselves, but if it’s at the expense of your health and even your social life, then it’s probably best to step back and reevaluate your goals.
Sure, you can still look great while still having a life and maintaining balance, but there comes a point when it becomes too much. Personally, and unfortunately, I’ve experienced what it’s like to have such a low body fat percentage that it is unhealthy and unbalanced. Here are some key points to why getting shredded shouldn’t be your first priority.
The first main point is obsessing over being “shredded”. You should not allow it to become your main focus and goal in life. Fitness should enhance your life, not take it over. There are people out there who become so obsessed with fitness and achieving a certain look that it completely controls their life. They count every macro to the gram every single day and over-exercise day in and day out, and eventually it ends up destroying them, physically and mentally.
Individuals who become so obsessed with it will completely avoid their social life just to get a workout in, or even refuse to go out to eat with their friends to make sure their diet is on track. Sure, they look great, but is it really worth the expense of a social life and even perhaps blocking out your family?
Being at an extremely low body fat for an extended period of time is extremely difficult, and is most certainly not healthy. We’ll go over the negative effects of a low body fat, but the main point here is that it’s simply not sustainable to stay below 5 percent body fat year round. Doing so would mean an extremely low calorie diet, and various negative health effects on the body. It would also mean not going out for dinners with family or friends as these meals may not meet your macros. The training required to maintain such a low body fat is highly intensive, involving an excessive amount of cardio and weightlifting week to week.
Negative Effects of Low Body Fat
There are also various negative health effects to having an extremely low body fat percentage. First of all, you become prone to various heart problems, and can even die from sudden cardiac arrest (this very nearly happened to me, due to having too low a heart rate)
When your body fat becomes too low, heart rate drops significantly, and can lead to bradycardia. Your energy levels will drop drastically. When you have no fat to provide energy, you become energy depleted, and your workouts suffer even more. Cortisol (the stress hormone) also increases, which also weakens the immune system so you become more prone to diseases. Probably the worst effect for men is low testosterone, which can affect your social life and relationships.
Another effect of low body fat is being very susceptible to cold temperatures. This one honestly sucked for me, because winter time in Michigan isn’t very forgiving, meaning I was always cold. Being extremely low in body fat also messes with females menstrual cycles, and in extreme circumstances too low a body fat for a sustained period of time can lead to infertility. Some other effects include weakness, weak bones, brain fog, bad skin, and a bad mood. As you can see, being at unhealthily low levels of body fat really messes with the body. Prioritize your health!
Having A Life is More Important
Fitness should enhance your life, not take it over. It’s great to work out and look good, but if it’s at the expense of having a social life and being happy, then it honestly is not worth it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t push yourself and see what you’re made of, but fitness should not control your life, especially if you’re not competing. Pushing yourself to the point where you run into issues with your family or social life, or even medical issues isn’t sustainable nor is it healthy or enjoyable. Enjoy fitness, and have it enhance your life. I promise you, you’ll still look amazing.