If you are on any type of weight loss, fitness, or healthy dieting course, then you’ve likely come across the phrase “body fat percentage.”The intangible buzzword is cast around frequently by the health and fitness society, but let’s stop acting like we understand and just ask: What does “body fat percentage” really mean?
Reps, sets, miles, pounds… These are just some of the numbers you have to track to be fit. But what about body fat percentage?
“Body fat percentage is the portion of your body that revolves around the overall fat in your body structure aside from lean mass. While body mass index (BMI) is a precise measurement for the average person, if you have a bunch of muscle, body fat percentage is a better tool to evaluate your goals since most guys’ goal is to scrape the fat,” says ACSM Health Fitness Instructor Jim White, R.D., owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach.
The American Council on Exercise stated that the standard fat percentage for a man is 18% to 24% body fat. And 15% to 17% of which sets you in the fitness category, while 6% to 13% of body fat is more likely of an athlete state.
But what’s the real distinction among the numbers?
Guys with less than 20% body fat normally have muscle definition of some sort. As the numbers fall, that definition develops. And it’s frequently in the abs, since men frequently tend to accumulate the most fat in their stomach.
But body fat concentration is also heavily impacted by genetics, reveals Christopher Jordan, C.S.C.S., the Head of Exercise Physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute and author of the 7-Minute Workout.
That means that if you and your friend dropped the same amount of body fat, he may obtain two more ab outlines, while your biceps and triceps shape deeper. “Look and try to stare at your father and grandfather—that’ll provide you an idea of your genetic body fat distribution model,” he adds.
The other distinction is your weight. Comparing both men who are weighing 200 pounds with 10% of body fat, then they both have 20 pounds of fat. But while the figures are the same, 180 pounds of lean muscle seem significantly more distinctive on a guy who’s 5’8” than someone who is 6’3”. The 5’8” guy will be lean with thicker muscle mass while someone who is 6’3” will appear skinnier, according to personal trainer and strength coach Pete McCall, C.S.C.S., an instructor at Equinox in San Diego.
You specifically need 3% of essential fat in the vital organs, which is also crucial for normal functioning in a man. Jordan also added, “Consequently, the least healthy body fat percentage of a man can reach is around 3%, which is normally observed in endurance athletes, but also bodybuilders during match day.”
If that seems extremely unattainable, don’t freak out. Most experts agree that somewhere in 10% to 15% body fat is the more sensible and realistic way of looking ripped. Nonetheless, read through the following to distinguish what it looks like to have 5% to 8% body fat, 9% to 13% body fat, 14% to 17% body fat, and 18% to 20% body fat.
What is Body Fat Percentage?
The most basic approach to explain Body Fat Percentage or BFP is the amount of fat in your body as opposed to everything else. “Everything else” includes blood, bones, and water.
There are two kinds of body fat: Storage body fat and essential body fat. Both are both taken into account when assessing body fat percentage.
18% to 20% Body Fat
Others can say you’re active and healthy, but you don’t have as much clarity of the muscles. There’s seemingly shadowing of the abs and definition in your arms, but you don’t possess a six-pack or rippling arms.
14% to 17% Body Fat
You might view the upper two abdominal areas, but the lower abs probably aren’t coming in as much. You have some cut and hardness of the muscles all over and sparse vascularity, but everything isn’t dug out quite as deep.
9% to 13% Body Fat
You definitely possess a six-pack and prominent vascularity—you are completely ripped. Your chest and arms are defined, but bigger than the body fat group below you.
5% to 8% Body Fat
You pretty much seem like Michelangelo’s Statue of David. A living anatomy diagram.
All your muscles and veins are established. You might not have the largest muscles in the room, but they are absolutely the most defined.
Keep in mind that a “healthy” body fat percentage is comparable. A percentage that is fit for a 20-year-old may be downright risky for a 60-year-old.
Determinants such as gender, physical activity, body type, heredity, and age all perform a role in defining what constitutes a sound body fat percentage. For example, women possess a wider range of healthy body fat percentages than men do because most women lack body fat.
It’s a basic mistake to think that body fat is innately bad. If your aim is to get rid of body fat, you need to rethink your end game! A specific amount of body fat is needed to promote proper body functions like saving energy and regulating temperature.
Drawing the line between what is needed and what demands to go should be done very carefully.
Methods of Calculating Your Body Fat Percentage
When it gets to working out, eating healthy, or losing weight, the old scale in the bathroom is a remnant of a device. It is not the most reliable way to evaluate your progress towards your fitness goals.
If you are serious about gaining control over your health, your body, and your journey, body composition analysis is much more efficient. The insight and features into your personal requirements, strengths, and weaknesses will help you establish the appropriate goals and achieve results more quickly.
Use a Skinfold Caliper
When you stand in front of the mirror and press at your love handles, that’s primarily the “skinfold” method of estimating body fat percentage.
On your waist, press your fat with your fingers and measure the density with a body fat caliper. Reading in millimeters, match your measurement to a proper chart with age and gender to learn your body fat percentage. This technique is highly reliable when measuring is performed skillfully.
It can also be repeated often to measure progress towards your fitness aims. As a bonus it’s cheap. For best results, have a fitness expert measure you!
For a more high-tech and modern method, try Dexa Scan. It is completely based on a three-prong strategy that separates the body into complete body mineral, fat-free soft (lean) mass, and fat tissue mass.
Do you want to identify precisely where the donuts are going? DEXA Scan performs a total body fat distribution analysis. It’ll show exactly how fat is dispersed in the different parts of your body.
The Dexa Scan is deemed to have the most comprehensive and accurate report on your body fat percentage. Sure, it’s costly. But you won’t get those sorts of details any other way.
Cut out the measuring tape! The anthropometric way of measuring body fat percentage is practiced by the U.S. Navy. It uses the circumference measurements for waist, neck, and height for men and hips, neck, and height for women.
Then utilizing the U.S. Navy Method calculator, you can enter your measurements to determine your body fat percentage. This approach is slightly less accurate but is cheap and simple to do yourself. More so if all you want is to have a general idea of what percentile you fall in.
How to Calculate Your Body Fat Percentage
Body fat percentage is the rate of your weight that is made of fat. It comprises both storage body fat and essential body fat.
There are various ways to measure your body fat percentage, including bioelectrical impedance examination, skin-fold methods, and other anthropometric approaches (methods that deals with the circumference of several body parts).
Here’s a way to calculate your body fat using only your scale and a calculator:
Step 1: Identify the recommended body fat percentile ranges
You must first study the variables, such as body class, heredity, age, activity, and gender. For example, the scope for a healthy body fat percentage in women leads to being higher than that of men, as women require more body fat.
A specific amount of fat is essential for bodily functions. It controls your body temperature, protects organs, and tissues. It is also where your body’s energy is stored. So it’s essential to possess neither too much nor too little body fat.
- 20-40 yrs old: Underfat: below 8% Healthy: 8-19%, Overweight: 19-25%, Obese: higher than 25%
- 41-60 yrs old: Underfat: below 11%, Healthy: 11-22%, Overweight: 22-27%, Obese: higher than27%
- 61-79 yrs old: Underfat: under 13%, Healthy: 13-25%, Overweight: 25-30%, Obese: higher than 30%
Step 2: Weigh yourself
Capture as accurate a bodyweight as possible. Various scales frequently give different numbers and, depending on the time of day you scale yourself, your numbers may differ.
Try weighing yourself on the same scale at about the same time of day over a few days to achieve an average of your body weight.
Step 3: Measure your body mass index (BMI)
You can simply measure your BMI by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches, squared, and then multiplying the result by a conversion factor of 703. Employing the example of a 150-pound person who is five feet five inches (or 65 inches), the computation would look like this:
[150 ÷ (65)²] x 703 = 24.96
Step 4: Calculate your body fat percentage
According to research printed in the British Journal of Nutrition in 1991, if you are an adult, your percentage of body fat can be determined as precisely as with skin-fold measurements. You can also use bioelectrical experiments using the following gender-based formulas in combination with your BMI.
- Body Fat Percentage = (1.20 x BMI) + (0.23 x Age) – 16.2
This computation has been presented to slightly exceed body fat percentage in people who are overweight. Use your BMI result from Step 3 then incorporate it to the above-written formula to measure your body fat percentage.
Step 5: Link your body fat percentage to the percentiles noted in Step 1
After determining how to measure body fat percentage, take a moment to compare the result you got in Step 4 to the body fat percentiles in Step 1.
Analyzing your results with these numbers should provide you solid evidence of how close or how far you may be from your perfect body fat percentage. If your BMI or body fat percentage is greater than what you want it to be, a slight shift in your lifestyle or workout cycle can make a huge difference.
Moreover, having the right equipment improves the results to help you obtain the body you want.
How to Attain a Lower Body Fat Percentage
Despite what you may believe, the most important distinction between 7% and 20% body fat isn’t your workout. Experts agree that it has something to do with your diet. The difference boils down to whether you are eating for better performance or to look better, McCall says.
“The fat guy with 7% of the body is surely comprehending a very stern regimen,” he says.
Meanwhile, the 10% to 12% body fat guy is in continuous flux. Some weeks his body is at 9% fat, others it is at 12% body fat.
“He might be doing a cheat meal—gorging himself on wings rather than steamed asparagus when out with his friends—but not certainly a cheat day,” McCall says.
Someone at 15% body fat is surely having a cheat day. “He’s paying attention and performing specific decisions—no fried foods, burgers without the bun, no lucky break room pastries. But he’s not uber health-conscious,” he continues.
It gets down to whatever your priorities are: Do you really want to go out and have a beer with your friends once a week and look pretty good? Or do you want to restrict the places and things you can eat but look insanely cut?
“The aesthetics are very, very important for several people—and that’s just fine,” McCall adds. But for others, the perspective of looking good and enjoying a few indulgences in life is more beneficial.
“When you want to catch a new body fat class, you have to select: How relevant is being less than 10% body fat? Because it demands specific lifestyle commitments,” he reveals.
At 20% of body fat, you might go and have half a pizza. At 15% of body fat, you’ll certainly have one or two slices. And at 8% of body fat, you seemingly just sniff the pizza and eat your salad.
Before you jump into calculating your body fat percentage using various techniques, let’s first go back to what healthy, approved body fat percentile for men looks like.
Calculating your personal percentage will be insignificant if you don’t have a clue where you settle on the range.
- 20-40 yrs old: Underfat: below 8%, Healthy: 8-19%, Overweight: 19-25%, Obese: above 25%
- 41-60 yrs old: Underfat: below 11%, Healthy: 11-22%, Overweight: 22-27%, Obese: above 25%
- 61-79 yrs old: Underfat: below 13%, Healthy: 13-25%, Overweight: 25-30%, Obese: above 30%
These recommendations show that as you age, your adequate body fat within these ranges grows.
Why? That’s because the same measurement method, which includes measuring skinfolds, is done for the young and old.
Based on the hypotheses, older people tend to possess a lower body mass for the same skinfold measurements. To get more accurate, Marc Perry of BUILTLEAN declares that specific types of fat (like subcutaneous fat) frequently do not progress, but the volume of intramuscular fat a person has tends to increase over time.
Physical activity is another major variable that affects healthy body fat guidelines. In general, highly active individuals demand a greater percentage of “essential” body fat to keep up the energy their body is regularly developing.
Now that we’re really drilling into the science behind your own health, did you know there’s a couple of new highly efficient ways to evaluate your fitness?
If you’re a cardio lover or a runner, you can check out Vo2max testing. It’ll point in on your specific anaerobic threshold and accurate target heart rate. Thus, it is ideal for optimizing your workout plans. It can even evaluate heart health risks!
If you’ve been calculating your body fat percentage and are questioning if your metabolism is a problem, resting metabolic rate (RMR) analysis can shed light on the circumstance. This test will help you understand your personal metabolic rate, then you can design fitness and nutrition plans that suits your needs.
Keeping an ideal and healthy body fat percentage is a personal mission that begins with knowing your body.
Now that you’ve taught yourself and found ways to accumulate information about your body fat percentage, consulting with health and fitness experts to establish suitable and realistic goals is essential. There’s no replacement for proper vigorous physical activity and an intended healthy diet. Don’t try to wing it! Health and fitness services can assist you to maximize your time and effort with a personalized program to make your body fat in the ideal percentile.
With a master plan, you can take satisfaction in living your best life!