Individual sports require a specific body composition and with running, different types of runners will benefit from different body types. The ideal body fat percentage for runners varies between sprinters and distance runners. Runners also need to be aware that becoming too lean has a negative effect on your health.
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According to Asker Jeukendrup, M.D. and Michael Gleeson, M.D. in their book "Sports Nutrition," male marathon runners should range from 5 to 11 percent body fat and women 10 to 15 percent body fat. Women sprinters should aim for 12 to 20 percent and men for 8 to 10 percent. All women, whether runners or not, need extra body fat so that the reproductive hormones function properly.