Doctor Explains Why It's Actually Not Healthy For Women To Have 6-Pack Abs

Having washboard abs is one of those far-reaching fitness goals that most people dream of, but a doctor explains why it's actually not great for women's hormones and overall health to have a six-pack.

By Gina Florio2 min read
woman abs

If you visit the health and fitness part of Instagram, you see a lot of perfectly sculpted fitness models who show off their washboard abs and share snippets of their workout routine. You can even click the link in their bio to get a hold of the ab exercises they do to maintain a six-pack. There has always been interest in achieving those flawless abs, and many women have altered their diet and lifestyle to try and sculpt themselves the perfect abdomen. But a doctor on TikTok wants everyone to understand why it's actually unhealthy for women to have six-pack abs.

Doctor Explains Why It's Actually Not Healthy for Women to Have 6-Pack Abs

Dr. Nathan Thompson posts TikToks where he answers various questions about health and wellness. He talks about sleep and recovery, mental stress, thyroid and stress, fitness tips for beginners, and much more. In a recent video, he was asked whether it's healthy for women to have six-pack abs.

"No. It's not," he answered quickly. "Instagram says it's good, but you look at most of the Instagram models with a six-pack, see what happens behind the scenes. And hormonally they're not doing very well."

It's easy to look at women in the bikini bodybuilding competitions or the super fit female trainers on Instagram and be a little jealous. After all, everyone wants washboard abs, right? Well, not exactly.

"Here's the thing: women need a higher body-fat percentage than men," Dr. Thompson continued. "Well, how much body fat percentage do men need? Actually for longevity, men shouldn't really have a six-pack either."

If overall health and longevity is your goal, which should be the case for everyone, 18-22% of body fat is an appropriate range for men. Because women need a higher body-fat percentage for reproductive and hormonal purposes, Dr. Thompson recommends women having about 25-30% body fat.

"What happens when a woman has very low body fat percentage? Well, they're going to be really stressed," he explained. "They'll probably suffer with hormone issues, low progesterone, they also may have very very low estradiol as well because body fat actually helps to support your hormone levels. Low body fat, low hormones are not going to feel very well. So definitely no when it comes to a six-pack."

Estradiol is an estrogen hormone that is the major female sex hormone; it plays an important role in your bones, liver, and brain. It's produced in the follicles of your ovaries and it's also present in men (it's produced in their testicles) as well, just in lower amounts. Low levels of estradiol result in dry skin, weak bones, trouble concentrating, and intense mood swings.

While some women may wish for a six-pack and maybe even work toward it, it's important to know that there are common side effects that come along with it. It begs the question: is it even worth having washboard abs?

I've worked in the health and fitness industry for nearly 10 years, and all the women I've met who had six-pack abs in the past tell me that the worst they ever felt was when they had a shredded abdomen. It may look cool for pictures, but it doesn't have the best effect on women's hormones and overall health.