Body fat facts for over 40 men

The world has changed. In particular, it’s gotten an awful lot fatter. Australia is now 70% overweight.

Let that sink in for a moment. 7 out of 10 people in this country are now overweight. In fact, it’s become so common that we no longer even recognise what someone should look like versus what they do look like.

Now, we’re all men in here so let me give you a few home truths… Do you want to know what happens when you get overweight?

Firstly, as you add visceral fat (that’s the fat around your organs, not just on your belly) you increase your risk of diabetes, and hypertension. Just so you know, for Aussie men diabetes is one of the top ten killers so we probably want to avoid that if we can. Hypertension is linked to a few of the other top ten so it would be good to avoid that too. This is why your doctor freaks out when your blood pressure is too high – because it leads to things that can kill you.

But it’s not just an increased risk of these things that creates a problem. It also leads to this thing called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name given to the combination of visceral fat, low muscle mass, hypertension, diabetes, and insulin resistance. And metabolic syndrome is linked to low testosterone levels.

Why would you want high testosterone levels? Well, because the following are linked to low testosterone levels:

  • Erectile dysfunction and lowered sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Back Pain
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • High cholesterol
  • Lowered sperm count
  • Man boobs
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Insomnia

And all this just from having been overweight.

I’m not going to suggest that every single guy who is overweight has low testosterone levels but given there is already a decline from age 35 onwards it’s a safe bet to say that if you’re in your forties and overweight there may not be much lead in your pencil. And I don’t know about you but I’d really like to still be able to get busy between the sheets for as long as I can.

So let’s call a spade a spade. Go here and check out recommended weight ranges for your gender and height. If you want to add another layer of detail to your findings you should also have a waist measurement under 94cm. (I’m going to add as reference that at 186cm/ 88kg my waist measurement is 86cm and my BMI is 25.4. Last time I had my bodyfat levels measured they were 11% but that could be up or down 1-2% currently).

If you fall outside of those ranges there is a fair chance you will also have low testosterone levels.

So what do you do about this…?

The first step is to lose some goddam weight. Just because everyone around you has accepted being overweight doesn’t mean you have to. Losing weight not only will help you look better but it’ll make you feel better too from inside out. I’m not talking about shallow vanity, although there is nothing wrong with that, but instead I am talking about sleeping better and being a more active partner because you suddenly feel like a younger man again.

How to get started on this path?

Exercise and diet are the two most important tools in your arsenal. If training is the spark that ignites fat loss then diet is the fuel that keeps it burning hot. It is possible to lose some weight with hard training and a poor diet but those gains will be small and short-lived. For long-term, sustained weight loss, as well as a healthy lifestyle, you need both.

Given that diet is the number one issue people face I’ll share with you the guidelines we use with our own clients based off Precision Nutrition’s system.

  • Eat four good meals a day
  • Eat protein with every meal
  • Eat vegetables and/ or fruit with every meal
  • Carbohydrates only after training
  • Drink zero calorie beverages
  • Eat healthy fats
  • Eat from a wide variety of sources
  • Eat whole foods, not supplements
  • Be prepared
  • Break the rules 10% of the time

It’s still possible to eat too much like this, so how much should you eat? As a good rule of thumb take your weight in pounds and multiply it by 12-14 for a baseline number. Use 12 as the multiplier if you have a sedentary job and don’t do much physical activity and use 14 if you’re a bricklayer who does BJJ four times a week. As an example:

I weigh 88kg (193lb). And I’d say I’m active but my job is still mostly not doing much other than watching people exercise. So I’ll use 13 as my multiplier. That gives me 2500 calories a day as my base number. But that’s to stay where I am right now. If I want to lose weight I need to eat a little less and move a little more. I suggest a 10% reduction in your base number to allow for a slight energy deficit and force some relatively painless fat loss. That gives me a 2250 calorie ceiling each day.

What’s that look like for food? Here’s a recent day where I ate slightly over at 2330:

  • Breakfast 3 eggs and 2 pieces of bacon
  • 180g of fillet steak and a small handful of almonds
  • 180g mince meat and 2 pieces of bacon
  • Protein shake made with mixed berries and water and a small handful of almonds
  • 150g chicken thighs, 2 cups mixed vegetables, cooked in 1 table spoon of coconut oil

This was obviously a very low carbohydrate day as I didn’t have an opportunity to train that day so avoided them as much as possible as per the rules above. But you can’t argue that I didn’t eat much food despite deliberately restricting my intake.

Here’s another day with a few more carbs in it to fuel training. This day was only 1940 calories so I was a fair bit under for the day:

  • 3 eggs and 2 pieces of bacon
  • Protein shake with mixed berries and 1 banana
  • 150g chicken with 2 cups of salad
  • Protein shake with mixed berries and a small handful of almonds
  • 150g chicken, 1/2 cup cooked basmati rice, 2 cups mixed vegetables

Again, you’d be hard pressed to argue I didn’t eat enough despite not even cracking 2000 calories for the day. And this was on a day I trained twice – one BJJ session for 90 minutes and a second 40-minute long cardio session.

The message here is clear:

Low testosterone sucks and it’s a byproduct of being overweight. If you want to be one of the rare 3 out of 10 still able to service your partner for a long time then drop some fat. The best way to do that is with a combination of a solid diet plan like outlined above and via a combination of both resistance and aerobic training methods. If you’ve been overweight for a while this won’t be a short journey. I had a client who took nearly a year to shift 40kg of fat. But slowly slowly, week by week, he lost a little more and then a little more. He stuck to the plan. He stayed active. And now he’s a better dad, partner, and has done some things that only a few years ago he never thought he’d be able to do. He’s loving life and his partner is loving the new him.