With fitness YouTubers and Instagram influencers posting ripped pictures, figuring out how to get to 10 percent body fat might have crossed your mind. Regardless of why you want to tone down your body fat percentage, there’s a whole can of worms to this topic.
In this article, we’ll be going over the detailed process of how you can get to 10 percent body fat, as well as how you can tell once you’re there. At the same time, please stick with us throughout the entire article as we also have to address some health, longevity, and aesthetic concerns.
Remember, being comfortable in your own body is important and that Instagram or Gymshark models are most likely far from being natural. Social media thrives on sharing the best type of lives, and fitness is no different.
Depending on how particular you are with getting to 10 percent body fat, we may challenge some beliefs you have as a person. There are a lot of misconceptions in the fitness world and no one regulates them.
With you here, hopefully we can educate you on the nuances of this topic as weight and body fat can be a very personal opinion. That being said, let’s cut the fat—literally—and figure out how to get to 10 percent body fat.
How to Get to 10 Percent Body Fat
Getting to a lower fat percentage takes discipline and skill. For 10 percent body fat, you’ll need a little bit more than that, like working out and counting your calories. There are a lot of factors to consider about getting to 10 percent body fat, so here’s the gist.
- If you aren’t muscular from the get go, then you aren’t going to look that great in 10 percent body fat.
- You can still get to 10 percent body fat without working out, but the lack of physical exercise will make the process take longer.
- Cutting your weight down to 10 percent body fat will lose you both muscle and fat. This can be between 3 to 10 percent muscle if you workout and consume enough protein, or up to 10 to 30 percent without working out and improper nutrition.
- You can lose weight in many ways, some prefer counting calories, others don’t. Find what works for you. That being said though, you have more control in weight loss when you count your calories and keep track of your weight daily or, at least, frequently.
- 10 percent body fat is not for everybody—more on that later.
- Body fat percentage is differently quantified with women and men. Women will have more body fat percentage despite looking leaner, just because of natural organs in women’s bodies for child-bearing and so on. If you’re a woman, 10 percent body fat is considered way too low to be sustainable. Aim for 13 to 15 percent body fat instead.
Being lean at 10 percent body fat is not going to look good on you if you aren’t muscular. And, while you might think you’re muscular already and would just like to cut down the weight, there’s a very big chance that you aren’t as muscular as you think.
See, muscle is much more dense than fat. If you compare a slab of fat to a cut of muscle, you’ll find that 1lb muscle is at least ⅛ the size of 1lb fat. Overestimating your physique and muscle percentage is a common mistake that you have to be open and honest to yourself about when you want to lose weight.
That being said, here are a few things you need to do first before trying to get to 10 percent body fat.
Calculate Your Body Fat
First off, figure out what body fat percentage you currently are. If you can figure out your fat percentage, you can also schedule out how long it would take for you to cut down to 10 percent body fat.
How Does 10 Percent Body Fat Look Like?
Now, how does 10 percent body fat look like? Actually, 10 percent body fat will look a little different for everyone because fat is stored in different parts of our body, based on our genetics. If you aren’t completely confident about knowing where fat distributes around your body, this will be easier to notice in lower body fat percentages.
Figuring Out Body Fat
You can figure out which body fat percentage you are in two ways. You can either make a guess based on how you physically look like or take a test with proper equipment. To be honest, taking a test with proper equipment doesn’t really matter unless you have a proper reason to figure out which body fat percentage you are.
Other than that, you can very well make a close guess by just looking at your body and comparing it to other pictures of men at 10 percent body fat. A quick Google search will help you here. A rough estimate is all you need.
Notable signs of lean body mass and lower body fat percentage are:
- Visible vascularity, veins on your forearms are clearer.
- Your abs will show some muscular definition. Of course, this will depend on how much muscle is in your abdomen, but if you do workout, then there should be some form of abs.
- Striations will appear around your body part that stores the least amount of fat. For example—with me personally—all my body fat stays in my thighs, calves, and stomach. My body part with the least amount of body fat is my shoulders, so I can see visible striations or muscle fibers in my shoulders when I flex them, even at 12 percent body fat.
Body Fat Calculators
If taking a guess isn’t your style, you can calculate your body fat with different formulas around the internet. Thankfully, there are websites that do this for you for free. You’ll simply need to provide your weight, height, age, gender, and some measurements around your body.
Calculators like Calculator.net or Active.com can give you a fairly accurate answer, but no calculator is ever any accurate. In fact, not a lot of medical tests really are. This is because fat is stored and held differently in our bodies.
At the end of the day, our genetics play a really big factor in how our body behaves with fat. Some individuals will have low subcutaneous fat (fat that’s above the muscle), but have a lot of visceral fat (fat behind the muscle) stores. This can make individuals look ripped despite having the same amount of body fat than someone who has high subcutaneous fat and low visceral fat.
With that said, body fat calculators are not that accurate. At the same time, 10 percent body fat is a physical goal and not a numerical one. You want to look like someone ripped, someone who has 10 percent body fat. However, you may not necessarily care if the fat tests result in you as 12 percent or 6 percent as long as you look lean.
This is the conundrum with using body fat calculators. Personally, I think you should just eyeball it, lose weight, and figure out when to stop once you think you look close to 10 percent body fat. However, if you want to take clinical body fat tests, then go right ahead.
Body Fat Tests
There are a lot of body fat tests available out there. This can range from a couple of bucks to well over a hundred dollars. While we may not mention everything, here’s a short and rough list of the most common and famous types of body fat testing.
- Skinfold Calipers – calipers physically measure the subcutaneous fat within the skin of certain parts of your body. This will be different if you’re a man or a woman, but these measurements are put into a formula that calculate your body fat percentage.
- Dual X-ray Absorptiometry – DXA or DEXA scans are low-radiation x-rays that give you a pretty good physique evaluation. The scans take up to 10 minutes, but aren’t readily available for the masses and costs around $100 bucks.
These two are among the most common tests you’ll see fitness YouTubers go through when computing their body fat percentages. The Skinfold Calipers is something you can do on your own and is much cheaper than the DEXA scans.
Losing Weight and Putting on Muscle
Before you start working out and counting your calories, if that is your plan, we’ll first talk about how much weight loss is actually healthy.
Ideally, you should focus on losing 1-2 pounds of weight every week. If you lose more than that, you’ll be losing muscle as well as fat, which won’t look good for you once you’re already at 10 percent body fat.
If you’re on the heavier side, starting on a much higher weight, then here’s some good news. Fatter people lose weight faster than leaner people. Why? Because having more fat means using more energy just to exist. You can increase your weight loss up to 3-4 pounds a week if you’re overweight, which brings us to the next topic:
Get The Right Equipment And Weigh Yourself
Buy yourself a digital weighing scale. If you’re serious about losing and keeping track of your weight, a digital scale is a gift from heaven. Don’t get the fancy ones that tell you what your body fat, bone, water, and muscle percentage is. Those are inaccurate and don’t really mean anything except to that specific weighing scale.
At the same time, it’s important that you know when to weigh yourself. Always do it at the same time of the day while wearing the same clothes. Your weight will vary differently if you’ve just eaten or if you had just woken up.
Now, you don’t have to wake up at the same time every day or sleep at the same hour at night. The best time to weigh yourself would be the exact moment you wake up. Take off all your clothes except the boxers and stand on the weighing scale. Do this several times just for accuracy’s sake, and then jot down on an application or notebook your weight for the day.
If you forget to weigh yourself today, don’t worry! You can weigh yourself tomorrow. Remember, weight loss is not an effect of steady dieting but the result of a lifestyle. The important thing is that you eventually lose weight, not how fast you do so.
Figure Out A Diet That Works
The next step of getting to 10 percent body fat is figuring out a diet that works for you and sticking to it. There are a lot of diets out there, like the carnivore, keto, intermittent fasting, paleo diet, and so on.
While you can debate about which diet works personally for you, in terms of weight loss, calories in and calories out is all that matters. Regardless of what diet you’re following, if you end up eating more calories than you use up, you won’t lose a pound of weight.
This is why counting your calories is much better than just blindly following a diet. When you count your calories, you can expect weight loss the next day. Furthermore, with enough experience, you’ll be able to guess the calorie count of most foods just from the continuous practice.
Be realistic.It’s really easy and tempting to plot out a schedule where you can prioritize maximum weight loss, but following that through and through is next to impossible—especially if this is your first time losing weight and weighing yourself everyday.
Add cheat days to your schedule or approximations of how much you’ll realistically weigh. You can do this by dieting for a couple of weeks, figuring out how much you lost every week, and making that loss the benchmark of future weight losses.
Remember, the important thing here is that this becomes a routine and lifestyle you can continue for a long time and not just a quick phase.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
You don’t have to be so strict with yourself. Although Hollywood likes to sell the chicken and broccoli story, as if to say dieting is miserable, it really isn’t. Counting your calories just means you can expect how much weight you’re losing or gaining that day.
If you end up going to a party, you don’t have to strictly follow your diet if it makes you miserable to miss out on that cake. Eat as much as you want and make up for it the next day. One full day of bad eating isn’t enough to destroy your gains and your entire diet.
It’s the compounding effect of multiple days of eating bad food that affects your weight gain over time. A cheat day never hurt anybody and there’s an entire science behind why 10,000 calorie challenges don’t add that much weight to an individual anyway.
Counting your calories is not a complicated process at all.
Yes, there are people who measure bananas by the gram, but you don’t have to do this.
If you’re the type who cooks and eats at home most of the time, then we recommend getting a weighing scale for food. Although this can cost you a couple of bucks, it can also work as a weighing scale for baking—so, two birds with one stone.
Calorie counting is as simple as doing a Google search of what you’re eating by typing out “the name of your food + calories”. You’ll be asked to choose how much your food weighs or if it comes in a cup, half-cup, or an ml measurement.
Once you figure out the amount of calories in that meal, simply add that to your notes or use a calorie tracker like the MYFitnessPal app. There are a lot of calorie counting applications, so pick and choose.
Counting Your Calories VS. Counting Your Weight
At the end of the day, calorie counting is just a means to an end. Dieting is just a means to an end. It’s more important to keep yourself happy and healthy than to lose weight quickly. Although you might panic and think that the calories you’ve eaten today have surpassed your BMR, don’t worry yet.
Put down the spoon for the day and weigh yourself tomorrow morning. Although your weight is the end goal for counting calories every day, different foods will react differently to your body. Furthermore, there’s a difference if you weigh yourself before taking a dump in the loo and after.
So don’t get fixated on a particular day wherein you had a bad diet. Remember, you have the rest of the week, the rest of the month, and the rest of your life to lose weight. Take it slow.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate
Your BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate is that amount of calories you use just by existing. This means that if you woke up and stayed in your bed the entire day until you fell back to sleep, you would still burn your BMR calories.
There are a lot of BMR calculators online that you can use to get an approximation of your Basal Metabolic Rate. While these aren’t accurate to the dot, they provide a good indication of where you can limit your calories.
The goal is to eat lesser calories than your BMR burns, so that you’ll eventually lose weight.
Working Out VS. Free Dieting
If you find calorie counting a pain to do, then perhaps you’re wondering if you could just lift weights and go on an unrestricted diet. Will this work? Well, it depends.
You can never outtrain a bad diet. A bite from a Big Mac takes like 10 minutes to burn in a gym. While working out may help, we personally suggest that you don’t account for the calories burnt in your workout. Why?
Because calculating calories burned in a workout is not as accurate as counting calories in food. For example, bicep curls that push you to your limit will burn more calories than bicep curls that challenge but don’t necessarily exhaust you. Furthermore, there are tolerance points in working out wherein beginners think they’ve given all they’ve got to a workout, but actually have 50 percent left in the tank for more.
In short, you can’t accurately figure out if the workout you’re doing is actually your best, and counting the calories of those exercises (which is typically calculated in minutes and not reps) is overall inaccurate.
You’re better off limiting calories counted to food, eating below your BMR in a deficit, and leaving the calories burnt from your workout as a decent surprise for tomorrow.
Building Muscle On A Deficit
Although you’re losing weight, you can still build muscle on a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit simply means that you’re eating less calories than your BMR, meaning you’re at a deficit.
You can still build muscle while losing weight, so you can avoid the common misconception of working out and bulking up and then cutting down to your ideal weight. Working out while losing weight works just as well, if not arguably better.
Consistency Is Key
Lastly, try to be as consistent as you can.
We all have our bad days wherein we eat more than we intended or we went to a party and downed a couple of beers and pizzas. The important thing is always to get back on your diet rather than to give up and stop.
Be consistent about picking up your phone and counting your calories again. You aren’t starting from scratch this time, but from experience.
Why Do You Want 10 Percent Body Fat?
Now that we’ve gone over the steps of getting to 10 percent body fat, let’s figure out why you want this weight in the first place. Everyone will have a slightly different reason, but there’s something you should learn about the “holy grail” of 10 percent body fat.
Is it Healthy?
Thankfully, 10 percent body fat is still a healthy level of fat for men to feel comfortable in. That being said, it may not not be healthy for you.
We’re all built differently. Some individuals can stay around 6-8 percent body fat throughout the entire year without breaking a sweat. While others may have troubles with maintaining 10 to 11 percent body fat.
There are a lot of theories behind this, a famous one is the hypothalamus and its relation to your weight. Another is that the speed of our metabolism affects the weight we prefer to be in.
All in all, 10 percent body fat is still considered healthy. However, if you’re having a problem and feel like you’re starving in that body weight, then you should prioritize comfort over aesthetic.
Dangers Of Going to 10 Percent
If you’re starting from a much higher body fat percentage or are dieting for the first time, consider educating yourself on eating disorders. There are a ton of eating disorders, like binge eating and starving, that plague the fitness experience of first-timers.
Some people get so caught up on losing weight quickly that they end up starving themselves. Not the type of starving where you’re craving for food—no. There’s a certain point in starvation wherein you no longer get hungry and even start to find food distasteful. You could even vomit from just eating a regular amount of food.
Furthermore, binge eating can also become an eating disorder, especially if you’re coming from that background. Don’t starve yourself right away. If you’ve been gaining a ton of weight, your first concern should be to balance your diet just to stay at that certain weight. Once you’ve done that, then you can begin to actually lose weight.
Can you stay at 10 percent body fat for a long time? Yes, if your body handles it well.
If you’re getting to 10 percent body fat just for a show or a temporary beach photo, then you may not have to worry about keeping your body fat that way for a long time. However, those of you that want to stay in that shape as a lifestyle choice, then you should definitely consider packing on some muscle.
Adding more weight, via muscle, will increase your BMR and let you eat more calories while staying in the same body fat. This helps you look good and increases the amount of calories you can eat, which also makes you feel good if you love food.
Frequently Asked Questions About How To Get To 10 Percent Body Fat
How long does it take to get down to 10 percent body fat?
That depends on how much weight you’ll have to lose. A good and healthy indication is losing 1 percent body fat every 1-2 weeks. So, if you’re at 20 percent body fat, you can expect to reach 10 percent body fat in about 15 weeks on average.
What does 10 percent body fat look like?
At this level of body fat, you’ll have muscular definition on most muscle groups. The veins on your forearm and bicep might even be visible. Any decent level of abdominal muscles will be visible as abs.
Is 10 percent body fat a lot?
Not really. 10 percent body fat is beach body weight, which is the perfect boundary for healthy and lean against ripped and shredded.
A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle
Losing weight is something you should never rush. Educate yourself as much as you can before trying out a diet and make sure you figure out how much it backfires. 10 percent body fat is a relatively healthy body fat percentage to be in.