6

votes

How lean can you get with strict paleo?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created December 22, 2010 at 6:08 AM

Let's hear some body fat percentages! Just how lean is everyone getting on strict paleo?

It seems like we see tons of success stories.. people dropping a ton of weight in going from obese to fit, but I haven't seen too many completely shredded people who are strict paleo.

I've actually gone up from around 8% to 9.5-10% in the year since I went strict (was working on low fat SAD with a calorie deficit with way too much activity and too little sleep before, so I am unquestionably healthier now).

C9c851f5cfb8bad7678b51fabff26615

(100)

on April 23, 2012
at 01:53 AM

The most precise method is DXA (or DEXA). Cost is not that bad, $60 per measurement, last time I checked about a year ago.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on November 10, 2011
at 12:38 AM

Because being that lean without trying is genetic, and you're probably under 30.

4ff24fb9a7d48305681487dfb8040a5e

(383)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:27 AM

Not a helpful answer.

892d177f50b16f118152219229870e4e

(776)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:25 AM

No one else is smug enough for that.

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on December 23, 2010
at 12:16 PM

***"Sounds like a shit question to me."*** Might have something to do with it.. ;D Must admit I toyed with it too. BTW when you say eat fat, how much and how much protein? Martin has told me he has eaten "ridiculous" (his word) amounts of fat to get really lean but not how much that would be.

1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

(1248)

on December 23, 2010
at 05:21 AM

Why would people give me negative rep for a good answer? Weird!

C61399790c6531a0af344ab0c40048f1

on December 22, 2010
at 06:55 PM

Exactly what I was going to say - ultra lean is not our evolutionary ideal. I would have thought without actual famine conditions the body would hold on to some fat as insurance, to keep warm and to protect the organs.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 22, 2010
at 06:47 PM

I was actually thinking about this exact topic while driving to work today. I'm frusterated due to me being stuck at about 3-5lbs away from what I feel would be perfect body composition for me. But then, I was wondering, is this just sheer vanity? I believe so. I might very well just be at my ideal / natural weight, which is probably the healthiest option.. just not the best looking one. Ugh.

Fb9140fc25239c563c6bf08a9ed324f8

on December 22, 2010
at 06:45 PM

A single point caliper measurement is the easiest way to follow trends in BF% up or down. It really does not matter what the % is as long as you look the way you want.

Fb9140fc25239c563c6bf08a9ed324f8

on December 22, 2010
at 06:37 PM

One person's junk is someone else's treasure!

9a19846adfae25b2e17c32d9af386f02

(151)

on December 22, 2010
at 06:17 PM

Keep the breasts and the butt! :)

9a19846adfae25b2e17c32d9af386f02

(151)

on December 22, 2010
at 06:16 PM

I'm relying on a combination of BIA and caliper measurements. I know these methods tend to have a pretty high degree of error, but taken over time I can form a relative average. Caliper measurements are highly dependent on the competence of the measurer. I think hydrodensitometry (muscle and bone weighs more in water) is one of the more accepted methods in terms of accuracy.

9a19846adfae25b2e17c32d9af386f02

(151)

on December 22, 2010
at 06:11 PM

I agree that fasted HIIT just might be the best way to keep leaning out once you get down around 10%.

9a19846adfae25b2e17c32d9af386f02

(151)

on December 22, 2010
at 06:08 PM

I agree. This was pretty much the response I expected. Strict paleo eating to satiety should return you to a more "natural" body composition, whether that is leaner or fatter than when you start.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on December 22, 2010
at 03:33 PM

How do you measure your body fat percentage? I have yet to find a good way to do this.

F53a74de3f8df19a114c5ac702af2b12

(826)

on December 22, 2010
at 03:21 PM

Hey, fat butts are finally en vogue in America! Cherish it!

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on December 22, 2010
at 01:45 PM

+1 I'm against sit-ups and crunches. -- Doing body weight exercises and using proper form does a lot more for your abs!

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10 Answers

9
E5d59ab6d79320caf1e991cdc7971326

(801)

on December 22, 2010
at 09:19 AM

This is something I've thought about quite a bit. I think the evidence does show that an evolutionary or paleo diet is the healthiest diet possible, but when I think about leanness that leads to another question...

Is being ultra lean the healthiest state for your body?

Despite the instinctive appeal I (and many others) have for being in an extremely lean state, I doubt that this is the absolute healthiest state for the body to be in. Having a small amount of available body fat for hormone production, cell membranes, extended fasts, and other homeostatic functions is probably a good thing. This might explain your slight increase in body fat with a corresponding increase in wellbeing/health.

However, it is certainly possible to get extremely lean by manipulating macronutrient ratios, exercise modalities, and maybe some intermittent fasting. How lean will depend on your individual genetics and desire. Eating slightly under maintenance calories while maintaining your muscles mass while result in fat loss, but I don't know if this is the optimal state for your body.

This being said, I vary between 7-10% body fat, and many of my fellow athletes I have converted to an evolutionary diet are in a similar range.

I will be posting some current pics of myself and some other athletes on my blog.

9a19846adfae25b2e17c32d9af386f02

(151)

on December 22, 2010
at 06:08 PM

I agree. This was pretty much the response I expected. Strict paleo eating to satiety should return you to a more "natural" body composition, whether that is leaner or fatter than when you start.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 22, 2010
at 06:47 PM

I was actually thinking about this exact topic while driving to work today. I'm frusterated due to me being stuck at about 3-5lbs away from what I feel would be perfect body composition for me. But then, I was wondering, is this just sheer vanity? I believe so. I might very well just be at my ideal / natural weight, which is probably the healthiest option.. just not the best looking one. Ugh.

C61399790c6531a0af344ab0c40048f1

on December 22, 2010
at 06:55 PM

Exactly what I was going to say - ultra lean is not our evolutionary ideal. I would have thought without actual famine conditions the body would hold on to some fat as insurance, to keep warm and to protect the organs.

2
E286e6ba6ef6c4c4a31a749e59aa57e1

on August 12, 2011
at 08:24 PM

Paleo will get you 3/4 of the way to really lean (in my experience). Ive been experimenting with the Lean Gains protocol to get the last little bit and maintain it.

I still eat Paleo, its just that I have a 16 fasted window between my meals, if I have some carbs its just before going to bed.

2
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on December 22, 2010
at 01:47 PM

I started Paleo to drop my body fat %. I started out at around 31% and now I'm about 22/23% which is right where I want to be. My arms and legs look fantastic and I'm never going to get washboard abs because of the sagging skin issues I have from being formerly obese. Sadly, if I go too much below that I really lose my breasts and I like them more than I hate the excess fat in my butt. :)

F53a74de3f8df19a114c5ac702af2b12

(826)

on December 22, 2010
at 03:21 PM

Hey, fat butts are finally en vogue in America! Cherish it!

Fb9140fc25239c563c6bf08a9ed324f8

on December 22, 2010
at 06:37 PM

One person's junk is someone else's treasure!

9a19846adfae25b2e17c32d9af386f02

(151)

on December 22, 2010
at 06:17 PM

Keep the breasts and the butt! :)

2
8287c6ddae0d78eae0a09fdd5999617c

(2581)

on December 22, 2010
at 07:57 AM

I don't see why it matters much that we don't see "completely shredded" people representing the diet. Most people just want to be lean, they're not looking for perfection.

In an age of rampant obesity, a lot of people are just more confident and appreciative of themselves by looking and feeling thinner and more fit. With or without muscle, having less fat is better for one's life and happiness.

One other thing (and slightly off-topic, but it's related to this whole idea of perfection, as there are many people who try to get great abs), I'm against sit-ups and crunches. Not only is this painful and torturous for many, it doesn't even seem necessary. Exercise in general could possibly work the abs better than laying on the floor does.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on December 22, 2010
at 01:45 PM

+1 I'm against sit-ups and crunches. -- Doing body weight exercises and using proper form does a lot more for your abs!

1
Fb9140fc25239c563c6bf08a9ed324f8

on December 22, 2010
at 06:42 PM

Getting ripped really isn't about the type of diet but more about the effort you put into it.

I started at 26% and have gone down to 9%. I usually stay around 11% with no effort. getting to single digits requires to much effort for me at this point.

1
A07feb2408ee58101105d1e18488a941

(113)

on December 22, 2010
at 02:23 PM

Dr. John Berardi's "Get Shredded" diet is (or can be) paleo-friendly. He describes it here: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_diet_mass/the_get_shredded_diet.

Basically this is a high protein, low carb, moderate fat diet that folks use for 6 to 12 weeks at a time to lean out. He says it is aimed at folks who are already lean (say 12% BF) and looking to get into single digit BF.

So yes, paleo (with some attention to macro nutrient ratios and a bit of caloric restriction) should be able to get you down to single % BF.

1
9f2b5def0bc7fd8ad615637d1ffeb9ec

on December 22, 2010
at 12:09 PM

For the record, I'm about 12% but losing fat gradually.

I see no reason you couldn't get bodybuilder-contest-level-lean on a paleo diet, but one would probably have to weigh and measure their food and count calories. I think that is probably the reality for sub-9% leaning. Bodyfat levels are almost all about diet, and so if you got the calorie/macro levels right, then how could the result be different than a bodybuilder diet.

At the same time, even bodybuilders are not in contest shape year-round.

Keith Norris is a paleo blogger who is close to my ideal physique, but he is not "cut up like a julienne salad." Probably around 9% in these pics. http://theorytopractice.wordpress.com/a-little-bit-about-me/

Charles Poliquin claims to stay 5-6% year-round. But he never provides a picture. http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/question_of_strength_december_06

0
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on November 10, 2011
at 12:40 AM

I've had the same body fat percentage for a decade. 16-19% by various tests, from 92 lbs at age 16 to 108 last year, sedentary on vegetarian/SAD to active, high-fat paleo.

Being this thin is mostly a matter of genetics.

-2
9f16b77774e408657b5dafb4a87aa129

on August 12, 2011
at 05:35 AM

I maintain around 5% year round. How does no one else??

892d177f50b16f118152219229870e4e

(776)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:25 AM

No one else is smug enough for that.

4ff24fb9a7d48305681487dfb8040a5e

(383)

on August 12, 2011
at 06:27 AM

Not a helpful answer.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on November 10, 2011
at 12:38 AM

Because being that lean without trying is genetic, and you're probably under 30.

-3
1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

on December 22, 2010
at 06:56 AM

Sounds like a shit question to me. I lose and have lost major body fat when I don't work out enough and eat fat. The best way to lose fat is to fast for around 16 hours and then train. Granted you need the proper nutrition.....so, I would go to leangains.com and find the proper way to get in shape!

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on December 23, 2010
at 12:16 PM

***"Sounds like a shit question to me."*** Might have something to do with it.. ;D Must admit I toyed with it too. BTW when you say eat fat, how much and how much protein? Martin has told me he has eaten "ridiculous" (his word) amounts of fat to get really lean but not how much that would be.

9a19846adfae25b2e17c32d9af386f02

(151)

on December 22, 2010
at 06:11 PM

I agree that fasted HIIT just might be the best way to keep leaning out once you get down around 10%.

1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

(1248)

on December 23, 2010
at 05:21 AM

Why would people give me negative rep for a good answer? Weird!

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