What does ten percent (10%) body fat look like? Have you ever wondered how you would appear at a certain body fat percentage? I have documented my fitness progress for several years.
This is a guide to various levels of body fat percentage down to ten percent body fat to help you get an idea of what to expect. For a reference point, I am 5’10”.
This list is organized in descending order of body fat percentage and not chronologically. Yes, like many other people, I do have times when I backslide and get out of shape. Sometimes I purposefully bulk, but a few examples were nothing but sheer laziness that I had to shake myself from.
30% Body Fat
Weight: 245+ lbs
Bodyfat: 30% or higher
This is where I started. The picture was taken AFTER losing several pounds – this is the first “before-style” picture that I took.
I have other pictures at even heavier weights. I have not included those in this guide because I do not know what my exact weight nor body fat percent measurement was when those pictures were taken.
20% Body Fat
Weight: 220 lbs
This was one of my first bulking phases. Notice that while I have more muscle definition, my love handles aren’t as noticeable because my ENTIRE GUT is larger – you’ll see later on that I selectively begin to store fat just in the love handle region, and actually look larger at lower body fat and weight!
18% Body Fat
Weight: 210 lbs
Bodyfat: 16 – 18%
Here is an example of how your body may change how you store fat. I actually look quite large, due to the prominent love handles.
I began measuring LEANER in places such as my arms, chest, and legs, and the fat gained was all around my midsection. When I gain fat during stressful periods, this is how it accumulates.
16% Body Fat
Weight: 210 lbs
Bodyfat: 14 – 16%
I am the same weight as the previous picture, but a lower body fat percentage. The love handles aren’t as prominent, and you can clearly see a little more muscle tone. Your ultimate goal should be to increase weight while reducing body fat, but as you can see, it may take some phases of gaining and losing first.
10% Body Fat
Weight: 188 lbs
Notice the massive drop in waist size, despite a smaller drop in body fat, demonstrating how I store my fat. This was the first time that I reached a lower level ten percent body fat, almost at single digits. Note that the abdominal definition is there, but very faint.
Interestingly, while I look much more muscular in this picture (mainly due to the fat no longer hiding the muscle) I was at my weakest, unable to bench press more than 190 pounds or dead-lift more than around 200.
13 Percent to 8.6 Percent Body Fat Progression
Here’s Ted who used Flexible Dieting to drop to 8.6% body fat without starving himself or giving up his favorite foods.
According to ACE (American Council on Exercise) here’s how body fat percentages break down among men and women.
Best Measurement Method
I still find the old standard the best, which is to use calipers. There are a lot of new electronic devices around and they may seem easy to use, but they won’t be as accurate.
I was recently in a Walgreens health screening van and they used a hand-held device that you gripped with each thumb and held outwards. While this device gave an estimated body fat percentage reading, it wasn’t very accurate and didn’t account for differences in the body composition of male and female.
Scale or Percentage?
Measuring body fat and taking pictures of how you look at different percentages is often a much better way to track fat loss and weight loss than using the scale. The scale doesn’t factor in muscle weight or fluctuations in water weight. Also, Ten percent for one person could look a little different for someone else as there is are also differences in skin thickness.
If you are starting the journey or in the middle of it, start taking pictures of yourself for motivation and for tracking your fat loss progress.