The Ideal Body Fat % For Aesthetics & Overall Health

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Video Transcript:

The Best Body Fat Percentage To Look And Feel Great

What’s going on guys, Sean Nalewanyj, SeanNal.com, BodyTransformation.com, and today I want to briefly talk about what I would consider to be the “best” body fat percentage year round for men who are training in the gym with aesthetics as their primary goal.

How lean can you get naturally without side effects?

There will always be rare genetic outliers who can get away with maintaining really low body fat levels and a fully ripped body all the time, but for the vast majority of guys out there, I would say that anywhere from about 10% body fat as a minimum up to about 14-15% body fat is the “sweet spot”.

As long as you have some decent muscle development to go along with it, this body fat range will give you an impressively lean body, and at the same time, your mental and physical performance will be at its peak, and you’ll be able to comfortably maintain it on a year round basis without the typical “cutting side effects”.

Unfortunately a lot guys who regularly follow popular fitness youtubers and social media figures in the online fitness community have really been misled over the years on the whole body fat percentage issue and they think that 6% body fat or 8% body fat is somehow a “standard” level of leanness that everyone should aim for.

The reality is that a true 10% body fat measured on a DEXA scan is actually very lean (most other methods that measure body fat percentage are highly inaccurate), and most guys are not going to be able to drop lower than that without experiencing low body fat side effects, not to mention that even up to 20% is still considered to be a healthy body fat percentage for men.

The human body needs a certain amount of body fat for optimal functioning and there’s really nothing healthy about having striated glutes or perfectly ripped lower abs, and the idea that this represents what “fitness” is is actually a really dangerous message that can mess with people’s self image and even lead to things like eating disorders and other unhealthy behaviours.

If you try to go lower than about 10% body fat as a natural trainee and stay there over a prolonged period, in most cases you’re going to end up excessively hungry, physically drained, mentally fatigued, anxious/irritable and with reduced motivation and sex drive just to name a few things.

Some of you might find this message a bit discouraging, but the good news here is that most people way under estimate when they guess their own body fat percentage or someone else’s, and the reality is that a true 12% body fat is actually quite lean.

That’s also why I consider 10% to be the minimum as a year round state in most cases, and quite honestly a pretty good percentage of guys won’t even be able to maintain that. I’d say if you want to be functioning at your peak physically and mentally, then 12% is probably more realistic as a permanent body fat percentage.

Bottom line,: if you’re doing a cutting phase and going down to a very low body fat temporarily for a certain event that’s fine, but in terms of a healthy, permanent, year round body fat percentage that is still lean and aesthetic looking, for most guys, 10% would be the absolute minimum… 12% would be a very good balance in my opinion… but even up to 14 or 15% will still look pretty good as long as you have some decent muscle mass to go along with it.

P.S. If you found these tips helpful, make sure to get your personalized training, nutrition and supplement plans using my interactive video presentation below:




  1. What do you consider to be YOUR ideal body fat percentage to maintain on a year round basis, and what is the ideal type of physique you’re aiming for?

  2. Hi Sean,

    I got into resistance training/body building after a long battle with Anorexia and I just wanted to say thank you for your down-to-earth approach with these videos.

  3. This is extremely helpful: a gem of insight into aesthetic muscle building and body size. I went on a plant based diet, sir, and I am losing weight on average of 1/2 a pound a week with light exercise and no strength training. I am cutting for ab exposure, and got waist to 33 inches. I would say 15 pounds tops and I have it. I don’t feel hungry now and I expect to possibly start getting hungry in a few pounds: but…it’s a plant based diet and I track my calories and nutrients very closely.

    Plant based diets have the calories and protein from starches: like wheat bread (homemade whole wheat), potatoes (baked slices), whole wheat rotini: but no oil: an no meat, no dairy and no refined foods like white bread.

    I don’t know what plant based bodybuilders say about the hunger issue you encounter eating a standard diet. I can only assume that your diet has to be far better than the standard American diet but is not completely plant based-however. The decreased calorie density may reduce hunger at low bodyfat.

  4. 10%-12% for males and 15%-20% for females. Depends on the female but I like females with a 16-17% BF, they have muscle and some fat that I can grip when pounding it

  5. they also take these pictures after a workout when they have a pump and are water depleted. that combined with photoshop filters and enhanced lighting/angles can make someone with 10% BF look like 6-7% or sometimes lower