For so many women, excess body fat plagues their feelings of positive body image and is the motivating factor behind starting, or changing, an exercise routine.
It may seem unfair, but women naturally have more body fat than men. To give you some perspective, the percentage of essential fat needed for women is 3 to 4 times that of men. Falling pregnant and sustaining the growth of a child plays a huge role as to why.
But despite this, many women feel either internal or external pressure to be as thin as possible, which can quickly lead to unhealthily low levels of body fat. In these cases, people often blame excessive exercise as the reason. While this may be a contributing factor, it is usually not the primary issue. For more on excessive exercise, refer to volume and training frequency.
In truth, too little body fat is most likely due to inadequate nutrition, such as restricting calorie intake. Or it could be the result of an underlying condition that needs to be addressed by a healthcare professional. Either way, extremely low levels of body fat can lead to a loss in bone density and have serious health consequences, both short-term and long-term.
Engaging in activities or professions where being very thin is viewed as a positive advantage warrants caution. It’s essential to pay particular consideration to your body fat if you’re a woman in these higher-risk environments. Some of these include gymnastics, cheerleading, dancing, modeling, the fashion industry, and social media.