Dr. Jim Stoppani on Healthy Levels of Body Fat and Benefits of Meal Prepping

On April 4, 2022, episode seven of Generation Iron and Bar Bend‘s interview series with exercise physiologist and JYM Supplements founder Dr. Jim Stoppani aired on Generation Iron‘s YouTube channel. Moderator Vlad Yudin has thus far inquired about various diets like carb cycling, keto, and intermittent fasting, what effects caffeine and alcohol can have on training, and training methodologies like contralateral and pre-exhaust training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Episode seven ventures into a discussion on meal prep and body fat percentage. Notably, Stoppani does not personally adhere to meal prep in the classical sense, where one prepares all their meals for a week.

I’m not a guy who wakes up on Sunday and cooks all my meals. On Thursday and Friday, those meals are horrible.

Check out Yudin and Stoppani’s discussion in the video below:

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As a scientist, Stoppani touts his ability to get a meal consisting of his target macros anywhere, including the fast-food chain McDonald’s. As such, Stoppani does not do any meal prep. When eating at restaurants, particularly in Los Angeles, where Stoppani lives, he finds that most restaurants’ staff are pretty accommodating to the dietary needs of their customers — from allergy consciousness to preparing meals with less oil to better fit someone’s macros.

Despite not practicing food prep himself, Stoppani is open about its inherent benefits:

It keeps you on your macros. You make it exactly what you need and are hitting your macros every single day.

For people with less experience eyeballing macros than Stoppani, prepping meals is likely the better option than trying to figure it out on the fly if a specific diet consisting of set macros needs to be strictly adhered to. For reference, meal prepping involves weighing food to calculate exact macronutrient counts for each meal. An example of who could benefit from adequate meal prepping is someone attempting to lessen their total body fat percentage.

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Stoppani, who is very lean, has approximately five percent body fat by his own account. A baseline percentage of body fat that could be dangerous to fall below is under three to four percent, which is classified as essential body fat, which protects organs, according to Stoppani. For a gym-goer routine, Stoppani suggests that a reasonable body fat percentage for males is around 10-12 percent and upwards of 20 percent for females.

When you look at someone who is overweight, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are unhealthy.

Regarding body fat percentage, Stoppani suggests that males ranging into the mid to upper teens can still be “very healthy.” It isn’t until body fat percentage reaches obesity levels — closer to 30 percent — that it is unhealthy. When calibrating a goal through meal prep, body fat percentage may not be as worthwhile a metric as aesthetics for bodybuilders who diet to very low body fat percentages to compete. For someone aiming to get in better shape or have improved aesthetics, ensuring the maintenance of a caloric deficit will help the loss of body fat.

Featured image: @jimstoppani on Instagram

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