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Busy dieting down to 12% bf.

Anyone been there before?

If so how does it feel? 

I know it won't solve all my problems but I like having a goal.

Goal is to be 12% by January 2021.

Eating lots of raw food. Raw carrot right after training. Raw nuts, salads, boiled eggs (4 a day) although not super crazy about protein as I used to be.

Don't care about muscle loss, but still training anyway because I like training.

Currently on the diet change my energy levels are quite good (better than before). 

Any tips from someone who's been 12% bf (clean waistline with minimal fat on lower abdominals)?

Once I hit it I plan to maintain it.
I have been at around 12% bodyfat for a long time, but I think I have good genetics for leanness because I've had clear abs since I was 14. I feel fine, it doesn't feel like I'm torturing or starving myself. I would suggest not to think of this as a 'diet'. Instead, the goal should be to adjust your long-term eating habits so that you reach and maintain 12% bodyfat without having to put much thought or effort into doing so. Don't overthink it - just gradually eat more sensibly over time. What body fat percentage are you currently at?
(11-28-2020, 12:52 PM)lemmings Wrote: [ -> ]I have been at around 12% bodyfat for a long time, but I think I have good genetics for leanness because I've had clear abs since I was 14. I feel fine, it doesn't feel like I'm torturing or starving myself. I would suggest not to think of this as a 'diet'. Instead, the goal should be to adjust your long-term eating habits so that you reach and maintain 12% bodyfat without having to put much thought or effort into doing so. Don't overthink it - just gradually eat more sensibly over time. What body fat percentage are you currently at?

Thanks for that.

Completely flat stomache from side and front. No love handles. Silhouette of top two abs show but they blurry. Maybe 16%bf.

I agree with you. My stomache has shrunk so much already I can barely eat lots of food. I plan to keep it that way.

My gf told me yesterday that she thinks I look good as I do but I would say she would say that with me at 12% bf too.
I've been maintaining ~9-10% body fat for the last 2.5 years. This is verified with a DEXA scan, not just number I made up. Started in August '17 at 19% body fat (my highest) and 197lbs. Got to 10.1% at around 175-180lbs around March '18 and that was when the second DEXA was done. Dropped down to 165lbs towards the early part of 2020 so it was probably lower than 10% at that point but didn't get a DEXA then. Since then back up to 175lbs.

No muscle loss happened to get to 10.1%, I actually gained about 1lb of lean mass. I don't think that losing muscle happens with any sane diet strategy assuming you are in good health. At least not to get to 10%. Strength loss for sure though. Despite fat not being contractile tissue, being very lean will make you way weaker. Relative strength to my bodyweight, on the other hand, was increased.

It feels good being around 10%. Feels like you are really light, like a bird. Bodyweight exercises feel really good. OTOH, moving a heavy weight feels notably harder. Being under 10%, OTOH didn't feel bad but it wasn't as good either. Joints are squeaky and somewhat painful occasionally and the loss of absolute strength is even greater.

It looks good too when you are shirtless or naked. People talk about abs and that's a given but I had already visible abs at 19%. When you get down to the lower levels you are looking at your obliques. Visible veins on the abdomen. It's a cool look if that is what you are going for. Freaky even. You will look WAY stronger than you actually are. However, with your clothes on, maybe a long sleeve shirt, it will look like you are getting very skinny. Face is very gaunt at this level. People have asked me if I am sick. People have asked me why I stopped lifting weights even though I did not. That is the unpleasant part.

How do I do it? Calorie counting. With the exception of family holidays and certain special events and occasional cheat days, I am counting all the calories that I eat. All my food is weighed and the calories are calculated using the USDA food database numbers. I sum them up in MyFitnessPal. For me, it takes 3500 calories per day to maintain this. Bear in mind that this number will probably not be the same for you. I am tall (6'2"), naturally lean and small frame (tiny wrists) and did ~30-40min LISS cardio 6 days per week in addition to lifting ~1.5 hours per day for 6 days per week.

I do not avoid carbohydrates. That is scam. I do not avoid sugar. In fact my post-workout protein shake has 20g of added sugar in it. I eat a lot of fruit and not many veggies. 4 cups of milk per day. About 230g of protein per day so lots of meat. Raw doesn't matter. It won't hurt but it definitely won't help you get leaner. Please read the "Fat Loss Bible" by Anthony Colpo to understand why avoiding fats/carbs/sugars/whatever is a stupid approach to fat loss. You simply have to be aware of calories in vs. calories out. That is all.

Hope that helps.
(11-30-2020, 08:47 PM)big_loser Wrote: [ -> ]I've been maintaining ~9-10% body fat for the last 2.5 years. This is verified with a DEXA scan, not just number I made up. Started in August '17 at 19% body fat (my highest) and 197lbs. Got to 10.1% at around 175-180lbs around March '18 and that was when the second DEXA was done. Dropped down to 165lbs towards the early part of 2020 so it was probably lower than 10% at that point but didn't get a DEXA then. Since then back up to 175lbs.

No muscle loss happened to get to 10.1%, I actually gained about 1lb of lean mass. I don't think that losing muscle happens with any sane diet strategy assuming you are in good health. At least not to get to 10%. Strength loss for sure though. Despite fat not being contractile tissue, being very lean will make you way weaker. Relative strength to my bodyweight, on the other hand, was increased.

It feels good being around 10%. Feels like you are really light, like a bird. Bodyweight exercises feel really good. OTOH, moving a heavy weight feels notably harder. Being under 10%, OTOH didn't feel bad but it wasn't as good either. Joints are squeaky and somewhat painful occasionally and the loss of absolute strength is even greater.

It looks good too when you are shirtless or naked. People talk about abs and that's a given but I had already visible abs at 19%. When you get down to the lower levels you are looking at your obliques. Visible veins on the abdomen. It's a cool look if that is what you are going for. Freaky even. You will look WAY stronger than you actually are. However, with your clothes on, maybe a long sleeve shirt, it will look like you are getting very skinny. Face is very gaunt at this level. People have asked me if I am sick. People have asked me why I stopped lifting weights even though I did not. That is the unpleasant part.

How do I do it? Calorie counting. With the exception of family holidays and certain special events and occasional cheat days, I am counting all the calories that I eat. All my food is weighed and the calories are calculated using the USDA food database numbers. I sum them up in MyFitnessPal. For me, it takes 3500 calories per day to maintain this. Bear in mind that this number will probably not be the same for you. I am tall (6'2"), naturally lean and small frame (tiny wrists) and did ~30-40min LISS cardio 6 days per week in addition to lifting ~1.5 hours per day for 6 days per week.

I do not avoid carbohydrates. That is scam. I do not avoid sugar. In fact my post-workout protein shake has 20g of added sugar in it. I eat a lot of fruit and not many veggies. 4 cups of milk per day. About 230g of protein per day so lots of meat. Raw doesn't matter. It won't hurt but it definitely won't help you get leaner. Please read the "Fat Loss Bible" by Anthony Colpo to understand why avoiding fats/carbs/sugars/whatever is a stupid approach to fat loss. You simply have to be aware of calories in vs. calories out. That is all.

Hope that helps.

Thanks for this in depth response! Appreciate it.

What would you say the difference was if you can recall between 12 and 10% bf?

I have already noticed my strength go down.
OH press feels way harder.

Im the same. 6'7 inch wrists, 6'1 (186cm) and lanky. But I think to be 79kg is great for 10% bf. For me I know I will be way lighter.

I don't eat so much protein anymore but still enjoy braai meat and nuts and cheese.

My aim is to look really great shirtless. When I was 86kg at 20% bf I looked massive in clothes but without a shirt flabby at the waist. My goal is to look strong and fit in clothes and great naked or shirtless. Thats why I thought 12% was good for both?


Did you train your abs? Did you see a differece from the training if you did?

Currently I do train them 6 days a week but I also like training them. I like having a strong core regardless of visibility.
(11-30-2020, 06:20 AM)Brett Wrote: [ -> ]Thanks for that.

Completely flat stomache from side and front. No love handles. Silhouette of top two abs show but they blurry. Maybe 16%bf.

I agree with you. My stomache has shrunk so much already I can barely eat lots of food. I plan to keep it that way.

My gf told me yesterday that she thinks I look good as I do but I would say she would say that with me at 12% bf too.

It shouldn't take long to reach 12% seeing as you're already at 16%, maybe a month or two.

Other tips I can give are: don't eat when you're not hungry, stop eating when you're full, moderate the amount of junk food you eat. 

Congrats on getting a girlfriend. I always end up liking girls who already have boyfriends, it seems like the good ones are always taken.
(12-01-2020, 10:15 AM)lemmings Wrote: [ -> ]It shouldn't take long to reach 12% seeing as you're already at 16%, maybe a month or two.

Other tips I can give are: don't eat when you're not hungry, stop eating when you're full, moderate the amount of junk food you eat. 

Congrats on getting a girlfriend. I always end up liking girls who already have boyfriends, it seems like the good ones are always taken.

Thanks man. 

I was single for a long time before I got a gf.

I spent alot of time feeling frustrated. Hanging out with other single male friends helped, but even then going out and seeing other guys with girls was like salt in the wound.

I met my current gf really randomly too.

The good ones are mostly taken - sadly. You almost have to catch them in a break up.

I've noticed guys that have girlfriends often just go from one relationship to the next - as if girls only want to date guys who are taken.
(12-01-2020, 06:03 AM)Brett Wrote: [ -> ]Thanks for this in depth response! Appreciate it.

What would you say the difference was if you can recall between 12 and 10% bf?

I have already noticed my strength go down.
OH press feels way harder.

Im the same. 6'7 inch wrists, 6'1 (186cm) and lanky. But I think to be 79kg is great for 10% bf. For me I know I will be way lighter.

I don't eat so much protein anymore but still enjoy braai meat and nuts and cheese.

My aim is to look really great shirtless. When I was 86kg at 20% bf I looked massive in clothes but without a shirt flabby at the waist. My goal is to look strong and fit in clothes and great naked or shirtless. Thats why I thought 12% was good for both?


Did you train your abs? Did you see a differece from the training if you did?

Currently I do train them 6 days a week but I also like training them. I like having a strong core regardless of visibility.

No problem. Happy to help. You'll look lean at 12% but REALLY lean at 10%. It's almost shocking if you've never seen yourself that lean. You start thinking you could be a pro bodybuilder but then you remind yourself that the guys on gear have +20-50lbs more lean mass at that same level of leanness.

Getting to 12% was fairly fast for me, maybe took 4 months to get from 19% to 12%, then another 4 months to go from 12% to 10%. It makes total sense if you think about it in a CICO (calories-in-calories-out) context. Let's say it took 4500 calories to maintain my 19% (approx, didn't measure precisely at that point) and I began my diet with 3500 calories. Now that's a major 1000 calorie deficit so initial weight loss was fast. To maintain 12% would be maybe 3800 calories, so the difference between that and 3500 calories is only 300 - a minor deficit so it was slow to get to 10%. I'd say that you should aim to go slow. Don't use a deficit over 500 calories, there's no point. You risk muscle loss with a very high deficit.

Definitely, 12% is a good compromise. You won't look anorexic in clothing but you'll still look great naked too. Go for it. You can always get even leaner later or bulk up if you want.

Again, these are all DEXA scan numbers that I'm referring to. If you can afford it, get a DEXA scan (or water immersion weighing) to get a better approximation of your real body fat percentage. A lot of people buy a pair of $5 Amazon calipers and think they know their body fat when in reality they're far off. It's not accurate unless you have an expensive pair of calipers and have someone skilled do it for you.

I switched from a strength-oriented to a bodybuilding routine when I was doing this cut. So I did a lot of isolation and fewer compound exercises. I did train abs. I did ab wheel rollouts, decline bench sit-ups (weighted), hanging straight leg raises alongside other compound moves that work abs (pullups, deadlifts). The bodybuilding routine is good for this kind of thing because in addition to losing fat, your muscles are constantly pumped so you will look even better from that.
(12-01-2020, 09:38 PM)big_loser Wrote: [ -> ]No problem. Happy to help. You'll look lean at 12% but REALLY lean at 10%. It's almost shocking if you've never seen yourself that lean. You start thinking you could be a pro bodybuilder but then you remind yourself that the guys on gear have +20-50lbs more lean mass at that same level of leanness.

Getting to 12% was fairly fast for me, maybe took 4 months to get from 19% to 12%, then another 4 months to go from 12% to 10%. It makes total sense if you think about it in a CICO (calories-in-calories-out) context. Let's say it took 4500 calories to maintain my 19% (approx, didn't measure precisely at that point) and I began my diet with 3500 calories. Now that's a major 1000 calorie deficit so initial weight loss was fast. To maintain 12% would be maybe 3800 calories, so the difference between that and 3500 calories is only 300 - a minor deficit so it was slow to get to 10%. I'd say that you should aim to go slow. Don't use a deficit over 500 calories, there's no point. You risk muscle loss with a very high deficit.

Definitely, 12% is a good compromise. You won't look anorexic in clothing but you'll still look great naked too. Go for it. You can always get even leaner later or bulk up if you want.

Again, these are all DEXA scan numbers that I'm referring to. If you can afford it, get a DEXA scan (or water immersion weighing) to get a better approximation of your real body fat percentage. A lot of people buy a pair of $5 Amazon calipers and think they know their body fat when in reality they're far off. It's not accurate unless you have an expensive pair of calipers and have someone skilled do it for you.

I switched from a strength-oriented to a bodybuilding routine when I was doing this cut. So I did a lot of isolation and fewer compound exercises. I did train abs. I did ab wheel rollouts, decline bench sit-ups (weighted), hanging straight leg raises alongside other compound moves that work abs (pullups, deadlifts). The bodybuilding routine is good for this kind of thing because in addition to losing fat, your muscles are constantly pumped so you will look even better from that.

I'm looking forward to it.

Especially now that its summer in my country and then next few months will be warm beach weather.

I do both isolations and compounds though more compounds. But I also train 6 days a week - though some days less intensely.

I'll just go by how I look and see how it correlates to christian bale from american psycho - nattyornot put him at 12% for that movie.
(12-02-2020, 01:33 PM)Brett Wrote: [ -> ]I'm looking forward to it.

Especially now that its summer in my country and then next few months will be warm beach weather.

I do both isolations and compounds though more compounds. But I also train 6 days a week - though some days less intensely.

I'll just go by how I look and see how it correlates to christian bale from american psycho - nattyornot put him at 12% for that movie.

Doing both works as well. I would do one big compound move per day followed by some isolations lifts.
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