The Truth About Body Fat In Women!

In comparison to men, it is true women naturally are prone to carrying more fat. Get the facts here about what fat is, who has more, hormonal effects, and more. Read on...

Many women are endlessly frustrated over the fat that naturally covers their muscles creating the sensuous curves which signify femininity. I am not going to talk about how one can completely annihilate fat from their body because this is ridiculous.

I am also not going to condone maintaining an over abundance of body fat because this is not healthy. Alas, truth be told, those stubborn areas that we women are blessed with (yet another of our many trials) are there for a reason. Yes, your mother was right.

Don't Laugh
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No, Seriously. Your Mother Was Right.

In comparison to men, it is true women naturally are prone to carrying more fat. As I am sure many people have discovered on their own everyone is different. Yes, there are women on this planet who are blessed with a naturally leaner body than other women. And yes, there are other women on this planet who work very diligently at maintaining a leaner physique.

And finally there are women who find it almost impossible to get the lean toned body they crave because their bodies want to hold tight to their stubborn body fat.

Body Fat Percentages

The body fat percentage in a healthy, active, athletic woman ranges between 18% and 20%. Depending on how elite of an athlete she is this percentage can drop significantly lower (although it is not an easy task to achieve and must be carefully controlled by diet and exercise).

For most average women who are less active the body fat percentage is much higher. Contrary to popular belief even though a woman may be "slim" or "skinny" by looking at her does not mean that her body fat percentage is not considerably high in comparison to her percentage of lean body mass (muscle).

Body Fat %
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Body Fat Percentage Isn't Always Clear At First Sight.

There is such a thing as "skinny fat people" or "skinny obese people". If one's body fat percentage exceeds the acceptable levels they are considered unhealthy regardless of whether or not they are thin when you look at them.

Reproduction and Genes

So, why are women so fortunate to have bodies that naturally store fat more readily than a man's body? The simple truth of the matter is reproductive purposes. Our bodies store fat more readily because it is constantly preparing itself to nourish a pregnancy.

Interestingly enough scientists have discovered that the difference in fat distributions among women have a basis in the region and climate from which an individual's ancestors have come. Example, in hot countries such as those within Africa or in the Mediterranean, women tend to store fat in the buttocks and hips / upper thighs.

Individuals from certain Asian countries tend to store fat around the belly area. It is thought that the body stores more fat in particular locations for those individuals who have ancestry in hotter climates because it would be more efficient this way than covering the entire body with layers of fat which would affect the bodies internal thermoregulation and make daily life unbearable.

For those individuals whose ancestry comes from cooler climates or Eastern European countries the body fat distribution tends to be more even so as to insulate the entire body to bear the bitter winter months. This is why so many of us have that girlfriend who never seems to put on unwanted, lumpy body fat. Her body always seems to be perfectly balanced. Take it up with your mother. And your mother's mother.

Physiology Of Fat

Please keep in mind all healthy people have fat reserves. This is normal. Our bodies need these fat reserves as energy sources and insulation as well as to cushion our internal organs. At no time should an individual attempt to rid their body completely of fat. This could result in very serious disorders.

Yes, some bodybuilders can get their body fat down to 4% or 5% but these are elite athletes that monitor their weight, diets, exercise programs and body composition religiously and they do not maintain these extremely low levels of body fat year round.


One of the most unpleasant characteristics of excess body fat in women is cellulite. I have a lot of clients asking me exactly what it is, what causes it, why many but not all women have it and of course, how to get rid of it.

Fat is made up of cells called "adipocytes". Their main function is to fill energy reserves in the body. These cells accumulate energy in the form of lipids which are released back to the body when energy is needed.

Now adipocytes are basically small accumulations of fat that are encased by fibrous connective tissue between muscle and the dermis (deep layer of skin). When these adipocytes begin to store more energy (fat) than is used by the body they grow bigger and body fat begins to accumulate.

The dimply impressions that begin to form are the result of inelastic fibrous tracts (within the fibrous connective tissue that encases the adipocytes) which function as small cables that are used to keep the dermis over the muscles. When the fat stores are enlarged they begin to bulge in-between the sites where these cables anchor the connective tracts to the muscle walls creating the signature cottage cheese impressions.

Why The Body Stores Fat

Now that we understand the physiological reason cellulite appears lets discuss why this happens. The obvious reason is if you overeat the fat stores are going to enlarge accordingly - however that is only one scenario.

Ladies, please pay close attention to this. When the body consumes fewer calories than it needs fat reserves increase. That means, when one does not eat enough calories to maintain proper body function (which includes, breathing and digestion along with physical activity) it goes into "starvation mode" and begins to store whatever calories are ingested in the adipocytes so there will be energy available.

The fibrous connective tissue that compresses the adipocytes like a net make it very difficult for blood and oxygen to circulate the region which makes cellulite extremely difficult to get rid of once it develops. This is why it becomes harder for many women to lose fat in their "problem" areas than in their non-problematic areas i.e. breasts.

We have all heard this or complained of this: "I am afraid to lose weight because I don't want to lose my breasts. I feel like every time I lose weight my breasts shrink but my butt (or belly or thighs) stay the same."

Hormonal Variations

There are also hormonal reasons as to why cellulite may be present. In women, hormonal variations actually favor subcutaneous water retention. This water retention within fat stores compresses the lymphatic and blood vessels which ultimately slow down circulation which makes the adipocytes or energy reserves harder to mobilize.

Tina Marina
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Author, Tina Marina.

It's a vicious cycle that will continue until women educate themselves on how the body functions and what they can do to manipulate their genetics. Anything is possible you just have to understand why your body is the way it is and what are the steps necessary to "evolve" it.