## Thursday, August 18, 2011

### What is a realistic percentage of body fat to lose in a three-month period?

It's better to think of the goal in pounds of fat loss and let the percentages fall where they may. We measure body fat as a percentage of total body weight, but calculate the loss in pounds because people who lose fat, especially in health clubs (from exercising, taking supplements, etc.) often gain muscle at the same time. Therefore, total body weight doesn’t always depict an exact picture about how much body fat is lost.
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and have 40 pounds of body fat, 20% of your total body weight is made up of fat. If we project a loss of one pound of fat per week, and you gain no muscle, you will weigh 188 pounds after 12 weeks. You will also have 12 pounds less fat, leaving you with 28 pounds of body fat.  To conclude your body-fat percentage, we divide 28 (pounds of body fat) by 188 (weight) for a body-fat percentage of 15%.
When it comes to losing body fat, the lower your body-fat percentage, the slower you should go. We like people to lose no more than one pound of body fat per week once they get closer to their goal. If your body fat is reasonably high (>20% for males and >28 for females), you may safely lose at a faster rate. If body fat is very high, a loss of three pounds a week is safe. But again, as you get closer to your individually realistic goal, slow down the loss in order to adjust to your new lifestyle and to help you maintain your new physique.