4

votes

Six pack abs, body fat percentage, and health

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 16, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Is there any physiological benefits to having a six pack/low body fat percentage beyond the aesthetic value of looking good without your clothes on?

9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on April 19, 2012
at 03:14 AM

So your saying you know people with six pack abs that are unhealthy? Let see em' then. Who, where? Do you need me to break out the studies that suggest large amounts visceral belly fat is an almost perfect visible marker for diabetes and metabolic derangement? Would you not agree that 100 people with six pack abs are healthier than the average 100 Americans people walking down the street? Id love to keep disputing why birthday present are bad (when everybody thinks they are good) but Ive got to go "interact." I think we could all use a little more of that.

Ef4ef7ba9488a8d292b458a26fab68bc

on April 17, 2012
at 05:01 PM

What has a breast augmentation surgery to do with your post? The coherence is not visible. Health is important I agree, Cory, but having abdominal muscles doesn't mean you are healthy. There are a lot of men who are on paleo and don't have abs. Does that mean they are not healthy? I know some men, who have a six pack without doing anything for it and they consume junk food quite often. Or bodybuilder who eat really one-sided.

9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on April 17, 2012
at 01:17 PM

Really? Is that what you tell your girlfriends who want breast augmentation surgery? Please share what aspects of a man you define as more important than health? Oh and by quality Im almost exclusively talking about attractiveness, in my case.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on April 17, 2012
at 08:42 AM

Good question, been wondering about this as well.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 17, 2012
at 06:39 AM

Dude, what veggie dip do you do on Paleo I ask ya? Make Mayo at home using warm bacon drippings and slap it in the fridge. You'll lose your points and become lovedrippinmayo (or not)

E242ecf1fecbac866894059f5304b4c6

(318)

on April 17, 2012
at 01:39 AM

i hope the amphetamine's worn off by now

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on April 16, 2012
at 10:28 PM

apt username haha

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 16, 2012
at 10:19 PM

Is there any chance you could go back and stay there?

Ef4ef7ba9488a8d292b458a26fab68bc

on April 16, 2012
at 09:21 PM

Really interesting!

Ef4ef7ba9488a8d292b458a26fab68bc

on April 16, 2012
at 09:01 PM

Lol... you 'interact' more with women because of your abdominal muscles? Isn't that superficial if some so-called 'higher quality' women reduce you on your muscles? I mean it may be nice to see it but there are more important things in life.

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 06:38 PM

word i hear ya on the binge proof thing i am not there yet but will be soon very soon and predictably. i agree that mark is a very reasonable and non extreme balanced approach to health and fitness and i always adored his style.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 16, 2012
at 06:12 PM

The crazy thing about bodyfat is how little we know about it. Leptin was discovered in 1994 and now it's the bum bum bum bum....THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER! Probably the most important thing ever is to have a "normal" weight body and a brain that isn't constantly stressed. Personally, I'd love to look like Mark Sisson into my 50's, but hopefully I won't be on the market for chicas at that age, and can enjoy a little bit of extra padding around my mid section. Overeating sometimes is fun, once you're binge-proof (I'm not there yet, at all!)

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 06:01 PM

i just came back from a philosophy exam so im talking way more than i should be

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 06:00 PM

It disadvantages you nil... unless you let it be a problem in which case you are the source of the problem and not me. But I will up vote you sure just to re-appeal my case that one vote is so trivial that any subjective pain felt in response to it is merely ludicrous. :D im not mad in any way sometimes i feel that must be made clear with the lack of emotion and body language tone of voice etc that is lost in text to text communication nevertheless it is amazing what we can pull out of just plain text

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:56 PM

Very nice article Kamal. Nice to see what the numbers of different body fat percentages actually look like.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:49 PM

Here's a picture of the "christmas tree" if anyone else is curious: http://samirbannout.com/images/tour/Back%20B-%20A%20Zeller%202-AB.jpg

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:45 PM

ill have a read at your article as well thanks for posting

22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:38 PM

I think you should upvote me for using my response for your back and forth banter about asking for upvoting ;)

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:38 PM

what about the hormonal properties of intra-abdominal fat

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:38 PM

there seems to be a happy medium then between about 5% and 15%. ideally one should see there abs without them being explicit.

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:34 PM

excellent answer!!

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:21 PM

i just figured one vote was trivial enough but i definitely see where your coming from

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:19 PM

but i understand what your saying totally and i do believe we should earn the answer votes legitimate i probably shouldn't of asked for that but whatever i got impulsive and did anyway dont judge me on it

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:18 PM

and what is one vote anyway

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:16 PM

its not like im forcing you its a negotiable offer between accepting a vote on your end and perhaps giving me one back there is no requirment that you must do so and it doesn't even matter either way if you want to downvote me that would be even worse than me asking you to upvote me

Medium avatar

(10663)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:10 PM

Seriously, Lucas? You're telling others to upvote your question just because you upvoted their answer? ...Da fuq? I'm so tempted to be a troll and downvote your question now.

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:05 PM

and still allows other to still win the vote if their answers are in fact more legitimate and accurate in answering the question

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:05 PM

vote for my question i voted for your answer cos it was the first to answer and i think that has some value since it comes quick and is more satisfying than waiting

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:04 PM

beside that one i meant see above i do realize however that the psychological benefits of looking good will have physiological benefits but i meant other than the indirect physiological benefits gained from the psychological component

  • Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

    asked by

    (324)
  • Views
    11.1K
  • Last Activity
    1262D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

7 Answers

best answer

18
21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:28 PM

This is a difficult question to answer. Since body fat accumulation typically takes time, and it is not ethical to test force-feeding to increase fatness via randomized trials, there are only hypothetical advantages and disadvantages.

One major disadvantage to having low body fat (not surviving famine) is pretty much moot in many countries.

One major advantage to having low body fat seems totally backwards-- getting a six pack is an indicator of being a go-getter (not a perfect one, but a strong one). Being a go-getter in terms of resilience, i.e. surviving challenging life situations.

Physiologically, the difference between a normal six-pack (around 9%-14% bodyfat for males) and looking like a cadaver (around 6% for males, with females being an entirely different story) is huge in terms of health. Telling your body that you are not getting enough food for months and years screws up almost every important physiological system.

I recently wrote an article showing DEXA-verified levels of bodyfat.
http://paindatabase.com/bodyfat/

Anecdotally, the natural bodybuilders I have known, who are just relatively mediocre in bodyfat compared to other competitors, seem quite healthy. Same for powerlifters and other athletes. A good indicator of "too low bodyfat" is unidentified muscle striations. If you have a ripped back, that's awesome. But if you have christmas-tree striations in your lower back without dieting, there may be some detriment for long term health.

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:56 PM

Very nice article Kamal. Nice to see what the numbers of different body fat percentages actually look like.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 16, 2012
at 06:12 PM

The crazy thing about bodyfat is how little we know about it. Leptin was discovered in 1994 and now it's the bum bum bum bum....THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER! Probably the most important thing ever is to have a "normal" weight body and a brain that isn't constantly stressed. Personally, I'd love to look like Mark Sisson into my 50's, but hopefully I won't be on the market for chicas at that age, and can enjoy a little bit of extra padding around my mid section. Overeating sometimes is fun, once you're binge-proof (I'm not there yet, at all!)

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:49 PM

Here's a picture of the "christmas tree" if anyone else is curious: http://samirbannout.com/images/tour/Back%20B-%20A%20Zeller%202-AB.jpg

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:38 PM

what about the hormonal properties of intra-abdominal fat

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:38 PM

there seems to be a happy medium then between about 5% and 15%. ideally one should see there abs without them being explicit.

Ef4ef7ba9488a8d292b458a26fab68bc

on April 16, 2012
at 09:21 PM

Really interesting!

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:34 PM

excellent answer!!

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:45 PM

ill have a read at your article as well thanks for posting

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 06:38 PM

word i hear ya on the binge proof thing i am not there yet but will be soon very soon and predictably. i agree that mark is a very reasonable and non extreme balanced approach to health and fitness and i always adored his style.

5
9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on April 16, 2012
at 08:43 PM

Let me say that even as a young athletic male I never had a six pack, no matter how hard I worked out. Now that Im well into my thirties and have reduced my workouts while adding in the diet aspect, I have visible abdominal muscles, maintain 8-9% BF year round. Here are a few of my observations.

1) I hate to dwell on this one but lets go ahead and get it out of the way. The biggest notable difference is absolutely the qaulity of female I am able to "interact" with. Something as simple as hugging someone seems to drive them to want to investigate your stomach. I find this interesting as most women Ive known seemed to downplay muscles in a mate. Yet, my own N=1 experiment is that you'll definitely have more, higher quality, options.

2) It is in my opinion the hardest muscle to "develop." By the word "develop" I mean simply stimulating the muscle will do almost nothing, if your BF isn't right. I used to wish I was a bigger/stronger guy in the gym, now I wouldn't trade places with the biggest guy at Golds. Instead I feel like Ive decoded my own personal body code for symmetry and leanness, while there recipe is just "try and get bigger."

3) I tend to gravitate towards things in life that money will not get you, abdominals fall into this category as do some of the more extreme branches of military training, mountain climbing, ultra marathons etc. In the end people know you've put in the work to get a six pack, and you didn't pay for it.

Lastly, yesterday while riding my beach cruiser through pacific beach I saw two overweight gentlemen, going up and down the strip in a yellow convertible Lamborghini. I locked eyes with the driver for a brief second and wondered if him and I weren't trying to do the same thing? Recognition? They say babies cry for it, old men die for it.

9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on April 17, 2012
at 01:17 PM

Really? Is that what you tell your girlfriends who want breast augmentation surgery? Please share what aspects of a man you define as more important than health? Oh and by quality Im almost exclusively talking about attractiveness, in my case.

Ef4ef7ba9488a8d292b458a26fab68bc

on April 16, 2012
at 09:01 PM

Lol... you 'interact' more with women because of your abdominal muscles? Isn't that superficial if some so-called 'higher quality' women reduce you on your muscles? I mean it may be nice to see it but there are more important things in life.

Ef4ef7ba9488a8d292b458a26fab68bc

on April 17, 2012
at 05:01 PM

What has a breast augmentation surgery to do with your post? The coherence is not visible. Health is important I agree, Cory, but having abdominal muscles doesn't mean you are healthy. There are a lot of men who are on paleo and don't have abs. Does that mean they are not healthy? I know some men, who have a six pack without doing anything for it and they consume junk food quite often. Or bodybuilder who eat really one-sided.

9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on April 19, 2012
at 03:14 AM

So your saying you know people with six pack abs that are unhealthy? Let see em' then. Who, where? Do you need me to break out the studies that suggest large amounts visceral belly fat is an almost perfect visible marker for diabetes and metabolic derangement? Would you not agree that 100 people with six pack abs are healthier than the average 100 Americans people walking down the street? Id love to keep disputing why birthday present are bad (when everybody thinks they are good) but Ive got to go "interact." I think we could all use a little more of that.

3
22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on April 16, 2012
at 04:53 PM

I think there is always a physiological benefit for when you are comfortable and even happy with the way you look. So if a 6 pack makes you happy and more content with yourself then I say yes. However, if keeping that 6 pack makes you obsessive compulsive and takes away from other enjoyments, then no.

E242ecf1fecbac866894059f5304b4c6

(318)

on April 17, 2012
at 01:39 AM

i hope the amphetamine's worn off by now

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:16 PM

its not like im forcing you its a negotiable offer between accepting a vote on your end and perhaps giving me one back there is no requirment that you must do so and it doesn't even matter either way if you want to downvote me that would be even worse than me asking you to upvote me

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:19 PM

but i understand what your saying totally and i do believe we should earn the answer votes legitimate i probably shouldn't of asked for that but whatever i got impulsive and did anyway dont judge me on it

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 06:01 PM

i just came back from a philosophy exam so im talking way more than i should be

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:04 PM

beside that one i meant see above i do realize however that the psychological benefits of looking good will have physiological benefits but i meant other than the indirect physiological benefits gained from the psychological component

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 06:00 PM

It disadvantages you nil... unless you let it be a problem in which case you are the source of the problem and not me. But I will up vote you sure just to re-appeal my case that one vote is so trivial that any subjective pain felt in response to it is merely ludicrous. :D im not mad in any way sometimes i feel that must be made clear with the lack of emotion and body language tone of voice etc that is lost in text to text communication nevertheless it is amazing what we can pull out of just plain text

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:21 PM

i just figured one vote was trivial enough but i definitely see where your coming from

22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:38 PM

I think you should upvote me for using my response for your back and forth banter about asking for upvoting ;)

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:05 PM

and still allows other to still win the vote if their answers are in fact more legitimate and accurate in answering the question

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:05 PM

vote for my question i voted for your answer cos it was the first to answer and i think that has some value since it comes quick and is more satisfying than waiting

Cf938ac46500e200c97f6adbb3365f64

(324)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:18 PM

and what is one vote anyway

Medium avatar

(10663)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:10 PM

Seriously, Lucas? You're telling others to upvote your question just because you upvoted their answer? ...Da fuq? I'm so tempted to be a troll and downvote your question now.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 16, 2012
at 10:19 PM

Is there any chance you could go back and stay there?

0
D6c0c1b4a682f79574420b4867e6b196

(0)

on June 30, 2012
at 04:03 AM

We'll for starters im a 13 yr. Old male. I work out my abs,biceps,quads, and pectorals frequently.( due tro wrestling and krav maga) I currently have 17 pct. Bodyfat. I want to know how much longer it will take take to get a 6 pack on a normal diet and workIng out. My regular workout training is p90x and MMA extreme. Some one help me out? What's some foods that will help burn fat? Cain

0
Ef4ef7ba9488a8d292b458a26fab68bc

on April 16, 2012
at 08:59 PM

Lol... you 'interact' more with women because of your abdominal muscles? Isn't that superficial if some so-called 'higher quality' women reduce you on your muscles? I mean it may be nice to see it but there are more important things in life.

0
5fb654380d04ac372b750ca3faad2e99

(277)

on April 16, 2012
at 05:53 PM

I remember hearing that fatter people actually have a greater chance of being rescued in a survival situation. Dunno whether it's simply because they can last longer or because they're less likely to try desperate measures despite not having any idea what to do (thus making the situation worse).

On the other hand, I'd think if they both had proper survival skills, the lean, muscular guy can probably actually get himself out of the situation more easily since they can execute their knowledge better.

-2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 16, 2012
at 07:33 PM

Six-pack? Screw that! I've got the whole keg!

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on April 16, 2012
at 10:28 PM

apt username haha

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 17, 2012
at 06:39 AM

Dude, what veggie dip do you do on Paleo I ask ya? Make Mayo at home using warm bacon drippings and slap it in the fridge. You'll lose your points and become lovedrippinmayo (or not)

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!