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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 09-20-2012, 07:46 AM   #1
April Jacobson
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Low BF%, risky- Really?

Here's my question: I see tons of CF women (at the games, on WOD demo videos, etc.) who I know have to be below the "at risk" category in body fat %. They are strong, healthy, look fantastic, and I have a hard time believing they are really "risky" in their lifestyle. I know it takes a truly determined and educated person to do what they are doing, and I really can't believe all the stuff I read saying that they are not healthy because their BF% is below 15%. I admire all these strong and beautiful women, would love to look and perform like them (not that I think this is going to happen, haha- I'm not delusional), and would love to know what everyone thinks about this issue.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:23 AM   #2
Rebecca Roth
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Re: Low BF%, risky- Really?

Many of them are genetically predisposed, and trained over long periods of their lives athletically, to perform at relatively low bf in comparison to the average person. Games competitors are genetic freaks.
The owner at my gym maintains low teens to single digit bodyfat, without actively restricting diet, that is where she is naturally, without "trying" she has visible abs. It's crazy, but she's one of those people who has been at a high level athletically her whole life, and is competitive as a crossfitter now because of the genetic/training advantages her body has.

If you are average, and haven't been performing at a high athletic level your whole life or genetically gifted, you really can't/shouldn't be comparing yourself to games competitors.
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Last edited by Rebecca Roth : 09-20-2012 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:34 AM   #3
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Low BF%, risky- Really?

They watch their health a lot more than the regular Jane's of America.

They probably only menstruate every few months if at all. Something we'd have to ask them and get a straight answer.

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Many of them are genetically predisposed, and trained over long periods of their lives athletically, to perform at relatively low bf in comparison to the average person. Games competitors are genetic freaks.
Probably this. Again, depends on how important a menstrual cycle is to them as well or if they are on some other kind of BC.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:44 AM   #4
Donald Lee
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Re: Low BF%, risky- Really?

15% BF in females is not risky for active people. It's risky if you're starving yourself to get there and losing LBM. 15% BF for females is roughly equivalent to 10% BF for males.

http://www.leighpeele.com/body-fat-p...nd-percentages (WFS)
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:46 AM   #5
Ryan Pye
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Re: Low BF%, risky- Really?

It depends on what you are defining as optimal health. Most women simply are not built to run around, on a day to day basis, sub ~13%. For many women, that would prevent them from being able to have children (which, in most definitions would be considered "unhealthy"). Additionally body fat is useful for keeping your joints and such healthy when doing things like CrossFit.

Having said all that, there are obviously exceptions to the rule. Also there are women who aren't really concerned about those two issues, so they choose to run a really low body fat. Lastly, people could be taking things to help their body fat stay low while preferentially sparing muscle mass.
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:12 PM   #6
Andrew N. Casey
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Re: Low BF%, risky- Really?

Quote:
Originally Posted by April Jacobson View Post
Here's my question: I see tons of CF women (at the games, on WOD demo videos, etc.) who I know have to be below the "at risk" category in body fat %. They are strong, healthy, look fantastic, and I have a hard time believing they are really "risky" in their lifestyle. I know it takes a truly determined and educated person to do what they are doing, and I really can't believe all the stuff I read saying that they are not healthy because their BF% is below 15%. I admire all these strong and beautiful women, would love to look and perform like them (not that I think this is going to happen, haha- I'm not delusional), and would love to know what everyone thinks about this issue.
you didn't ask a question after you said "here's my question"... so what are you asking? or were you just making a statement (ranting a little bit, venting to get it out)? additionally, "look fantastic" is a matter of opinion. strong and lean doesn't always mean healthy. take the example of male bodybuidlers. and they are also strong and lean, but when in competition shape most females don't think they are how a many looks best.


one statement i will make is that i think there is alot of underestimating body fat percentage, especially when it comes to women. in single body fat percentage a woman has striations and veins everywhere. the vast majority of CF games competitors don't have that look. yes they are lean and have "tone" or definition, but they don't look like the female bodybuilders that actually have below 10%. take a look at that article that donald posted the link
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:13 PM   #7
Andrew N. Casey
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Re: Low BF%, risky- Really?

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Originally Posted by Ryan Pye View Post
It depends on what you are defining as optimal health. Most women simply are not built to run around, on a day to day basis, sub ~13%. For many women, that would prevent them from being able to have children (which, in most definitions would be considered "unhealthy"). Additionally body fat is useful for keeping your joints and such healthy when doing things like CrossFit.

Having said all that, there are obviously exceptions to the rule. Also there are women who aren't really concerned about those two issues, so they choose to run a really low body fat. Lastly, people could be taking things to help their body fat stay low while preferentially sparing muscle mass.
really good post.
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:14 PM   #8
Jose Soriano
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Re: Low BF%, risky- Really?

I think, and I may be talking out of my bum here, but I think that whoever said "15% bodyfat" was not talking about these women, and not just because of the genetics etc.

Crossfiters are generally outliers on the curve of human fitness, even those of us who are still fat and just starting are simply performing more than the average human being. You take someone who's been crossfitting steadily, 2-3 times a week for 1 month and compare them to the average office worker, it'll be like comparing an olympic level athlete to JV athlete, even if we don't look the part.

15% sounds about right when the other 85% of the body is weak malnourished muscle, artery plaque, cholesterol, brittle bone and water weight sitting on a couch and running off of atrophied lungs and heart; the body needs all the help it can get in that case.
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:06 AM   #9
Brendan McNamar
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Re: Low BF%, risky- Really?

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Originally Posted by April Jacobson View Post
I really can't believe all the stuff I read saying that they are not healthy because their BF% is below 15%.
Much of this depends on definition of healthy.

Women's bodies will shut down reproductive processes if their body fat gets too low. This is simply an evolutionary defensive devise to protect the mother during times of starvation. Many high level female athletes experience this in pursuit of excellence in their sports. They are healthy but their body thinks they are too lean to have children. Our genetics don't know there is a supermarket full of food on every corner.

To the best of my knowledge it is temporary and when the athlete allows their body fat to rise to a high enough level then everything returns to normal.

There are unhealthy states when a person in undernourished losing both body fat and muscle mass. The eating disorders come to mind right away. Or a CrossFitter who restricts calories too much and continues to train very hard.These people are unhealthy and it will show. They will not be performing at a high level because their body is breaking down.

I'm willing to bet if you followed a female Games athlete around for a day or two you would be amazed at how much they eat.
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:51 AM   #10
Jesse Martin
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Re: Low BF%, risky- Really?

I don't see many CF women under said 15%.

Bodybuilder women get to like 9%, often with the assistance of drugs.
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