2

votes

16.8% body fat (female) and still have fat over my stomach/no six pack showing. Help!

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 06, 2013 at 5:49 PM

I have been on the Paleo diet for about 6 weeks now and following a pretty strict diet. I have recently completely cut out fruit, and I work out with weights about 4 days a week with about 20 minutes of intense cardio in each of those days. I try to keep the calories down, but I try to not count too intensely as I don't think I am eating very calorie-dense food. A typical meal day for me goes like this:

A Paleo Protein shake for breakfast ( I'm always on the go)-either with water or coconut milk A small portion of chicken with carrots for mid-morning snack Some small type of protein with salad for lunch olive oil and vinegar dressing Same thing for dinner Some almonds for a snack or coconut flakes.

What am I doing wrong?!? How low do I need to take my fat before my six pack shows?!

Thanks!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:39 AM

I've spent nearly a year in ketosis before, still had a nice pooch of a fat pad covering my lower belly. Ketosis isn't magic, just different.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:36 AM

I also used to work in the photo industry doing finishing touch up work for print ads, and trust me, not a single face or body that is published, unless you are reading some zine someone whipped up at Kinkos, has escaped some touching up in Photoshop. In ye olde days, when I worked in a dark room we would use a special tool to burn in shadows into images to make muscles pop more.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:32 AM

I was being crass on purpose to get your attention. I am a pilates addict, I know all about wanting a strong core, but like many women I will never ever have a six pack unless I drop down to a sub-fertility bodyfat level or take steroids. You made it sound like it was somehow the norm, and "darn it, why isn't this working". I just wanted to shake up your priorities a bit to make room for realistic and healthy goals before you got too lost.

26e0076f4bd8634d2a87ee5026cfac27

(10)

on August 16, 2013
at 01:38 AM

I think the way you answered this question is a bit crass for my taste...the women in those magazines are not all photoshopped and I am not looking for that look anyway. I never painted myself as a disillusioned teenage girl pouring over magazines I'm trying to become the best me that I can be and there is nothing wrong with wanting to have a strong and defined core. And by the way, since when is it men who are the only ones who can obtain a six pack? Thanks for the reply, but no thanks to your sexist comments and assumptions.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 15, 2013
at 07:52 PM

To lose fat, focus on fixing the hormonal and metabolic response.

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on July 11, 2013
at 01:27 AM

Haha no wonder then! I really had no muscle- all of it had severely atrophied.

C6648ab69e5a1560c7585fe3ba7108fb

(880)

on July 08, 2013
at 01:06 PM

Seconded on not eating enough. Especially if you're trying for a visible six-pack, as a woman (who will biologically have to work harder to put on muscle than a man) if you want clearly defined muscles anywhere, you're going to need to up your protein (and calories in general), lift heavier things (are you doing body-weight exercises? Dumbbells? Machines?) and cut down the cardio (I'd recommend no more than one or two days a week of HIIT and not combining it with the weight lifting).

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on July 08, 2013
at 11:52 AM

At 84lbs your body will eat up your muscle just to stay alive so it's no wonder you didn't have visible abs

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on July 08, 2013
at 11:50 AM

I didn't mention anything about doing it for a man. If you find it attractive it's reason enough but it may also be unhealthy. I'd like to be slimmer but I lose my period, so I'm not.

26e0076f4bd8634d2a87ee5026cfac27

(10)

on July 07, 2013
at 09:17 PM

I appreciate your input, but I don't want a six pack to attract a man I want it for myself because I think it is aesthetically pleasing...

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 07, 2013
at 02:35 PM

A six-pack on a woman isn't attractive in my opinion. Every body fat percentages site I've seen show women with visible abs at sub-16% BF and they are decidedly less attractive than the women in the 20-25% body fat range.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on July 07, 2013
at 05:37 AM

I sure hope you feel better! BMI of 14 and you're at serious risk of heart failure.

26e0076f4bd8634d2a87ee5026cfac27

(10)

on July 07, 2013
at 05:05 AM

I agree that maybe it is harder for some women but I'm 20 and though I want kids, I don't want them right now and before I do, I'd like to experience the pay off of having a six pack after working so hard to keep my diet clean and exercise...and I haven't been seeing it so it's frustrating

26e0076f4bd8634d2a87ee5026cfac27

(10)

on July 07, 2013
at 05:04 AM

I thought to lose fat it was the calories in calories out approach...won't my body go into ketosis?

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on July 07, 2013
at 01:38 AM

With so little calorie intake, your body is in constant starvation mode, and will cause you to store fat and lose muscle to survive. You need to roughly double your food intake, especially healthy fats.

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10 Answers

11
F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on July 06, 2013
at 06:24 PM

Some strong eating disorder red flags in this email (and I speak from experience). You're a woman - we naturally have fat on our highs, thighs and bellies to protect our reproductive organs and allow us to have babies. If you're down to 16.8% BF (which is pretty low for a woman - are you still menstruating?) and you still have some fat on your tummy, that's probably how your body wants to be. So you can either suffer about it and go to all lengths, however detrimental to your overall health, to try to get rid of it. Or you can work on sanely and bravely accepting it.

Also, doesn't sound like you're eating enough. That can mess up your metabolism and your brain function and exacerbate the kind of panicky, low-body-image thoughts you're articulating here.

C6648ab69e5a1560c7585fe3ba7108fb

(880)

on July 08, 2013
at 01:06 PM

Seconded on not eating enough. Especially if you're trying for a visible six-pack, as a woman (who will biologically have to work harder to put on muscle than a man) if you want clearly defined muscles anywhere, you're going to need to up your protein (and calories in general), lift heavier things (are you doing body-weight exercises? Dumbbells? Machines?) and cut down the cardio (I'd recommend no more than one or two days a week of HIIT and not combining it with the weight lifting).

4
C7fd8c6173e4875900219fc5a66753e0

on July 06, 2013
at 11:44 PM

I would eat more, especially up your fat intake. seriously. your calories are too low, that's why your body isn't letting go of the remaining fat. sometimes you need to eat more to lose.

3
68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on July 06, 2013
at 11:10 PM

Eating this little can throw you into hypothyroidism which makes it really hard to lose further weight. You're probably having no more than 1000 calories a day which simply isn't healthy. I agree with Renee that there are some red flags in this question. Why are you pushing for such a low body fat % considering it requires quite unhealthy means to get there?

Is a 6-pack on a girl really considered the beauty ideal these days? Damn I'm glad I don't live in the US!

26e0076f4bd8634d2a87ee5026cfac27

(10)

on July 07, 2013
at 09:17 PM

I appreciate your input, but I don't want a six pack to attract a man I want it for myself because I think it is aesthetically pleasing...

26e0076f4bd8634d2a87ee5026cfac27

(10)

on July 07, 2013
at 05:05 AM

I agree that maybe it is harder for some women but I'm 20 and though I want kids, I don't want them right now and before I do, I'd like to experience the pay off of having a six pack after working so hard to keep my diet clean and exercise...and I haven't been seeing it so it's frustrating

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on July 08, 2013
at 11:50 AM

I didn't mention anything about doing it for a man. If you find it attractive it's reason enough but it may also be unhealthy. I'd like to be slimmer but I lose my period, so I'm not.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 07, 2013
at 02:35 PM

A six-pack on a woman isn't attractive in my opinion. Every body fat percentages site I've seen show women with visible abs at sub-16% BF and they are decidedly less attractive than the women in the 20-25% body fat range.

3
Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on July 06, 2013
at 09:07 PM

Some women's bodies just do not naturally have visible abs at a healthy level of body fat. Yours may well be one of them. This does not mean anything is wrong with you; it's not a sign that you're eating anything wrong, working out too much/too little, or need to change anything about your life. It's just the way your body was built.

That's not the answer you probably wanted, but at least consider it.

I agree with Renee; I'm worried that you're eating far too little, especially too little starch; not sure what a "small portion" of protein is, but it sounds to me like you might not be getting enough food.

2
59b1fb3c808957039f9ddf6fb341c05c

on August 15, 2013
at 07:15 PM

After 6 weeks? And you think the abs are going to magically appear? You seem a bit impatience.

1
089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on July 06, 2013
at 11:12 PM

Its hard for mine to show too. My bmi last year before i started paleo was 14 and i was 84 lbs (5'5"). My abs showed somewhat but defintely no six pack. Im 102 lbs now and most of it went to my gut so there are no visible abs at all. I think its just genetic. We are mostly apple shaped in my family so now matter how emaciated i am, i wont have visible abs. I physically feel better having more fat on me.

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on July 08, 2013
at 11:52 AM

At 84lbs your body will eat up your muscle just to stay alive so it's no wonder you didn't have visible abs

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on July 07, 2013
at 05:37 AM

I sure hope you feel better! BMI of 14 and you're at serious risk of heart failure.

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on July 11, 2013
at 01:27 AM

Haha no wonder then! I really had no muscle- all of it had severely atrophied.

1
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on July 06, 2013
at 10:50 PM

Everything I've seen says the majority of people are looking at the 10% and less bodyfat range to have the 6 pack pop out. Some women up to 12%. The guys have to be a lot lower than women.

Check out this link for some visual perspectives on bodyfat ranges: http://www.builtlean.com/2012/09/24/body-fat-percentage-men-women/

0
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 15, 2013
at 07:35 PM

Get ahold of yourself woman! You don't have a six pack because it is biologically inappropriate for most women to have a six pack. Some are able to, but they are the freaks of nature, not the norm, and most of the women you see in magazines with a six pack have been deeply accentuated with makeup, airbrushing, and/or Photoshop. Unless you magically become a man in the near future, this goal is going to destroy your health in pursuit of an imaginary aesthetic.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:36 AM

I also used to work in the photo industry doing finishing touch up work for print ads, and trust me, not a single face or body that is published, unless you are reading some zine someone whipped up at Kinkos, has escaped some touching up in Photoshop. In ye olde days, when I worked in a dark room we would use a special tool to burn in shadows into images to make muscles pop more.

26e0076f4bd8634d2a87ee5026cfac27

(10)

on August 16, 2013
at 01:38 AM

I think the way you answered this question is a bit crass for my taste...the women in those magazines are not all photoshopped and I am not looking for that look anyway. I never painted myself as a disillusioned teenage girl pouring over magazines I'm trying to become the best me that I can be and there is nothing wrong with wanting to have a strong and defined core. And by the way, since when is it men who are the only ones who can obtain a six pack? Thanks for the reply, but no thanks to your sexist comments and assumptions.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 16, 2013
at 05:32 AM

I was being crass on purpose to get your attention. I am a pilates addict, I know all about wanting a strong core, but like many women I will never ever have a six pack unless I drop down to a sub-fertility bodyfat level or take steroids. You made it sound like it was somehow the norm, and "darn it, why isn't this working". I just wanted to shake up your priorities a bit to make room for realistic and healthy goals before you got too lost.

0
7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on July 06, 2013
at 07:33 PM

I don't have any answers for you, but I wish you luck, and I hope other's come along, as I need some answers too!

-3
9b448b9a35f1173b213b73aca77861c4

on July 06, 2013
at 08:26 PM

I am 175cm tall and weigh something below 60 kg with 15-16% BF. I never had any issues with my menstruation, so I don't consider my BF critically low.

I really sympathy with you Nikki because I was and still am going through the same effort as you are. Too be honest, I eat just as you do but my cardio work out is more intense. I practice Bikram yoga 3-5 times a week and a session is about 90 min long. So I get 270min to 450min of exercise in a week (I don't do sit ups nor weights). And with being primal since 10 days only, I am already seeing results.

  1. I have less love handles, 2. the layer of fat I used to carry on top of my abs is shrinking 3. I can see my 2 pack approaching :)

From my experience, I recommend you to increase your cardio workout.

ALL the best, you can do it

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