Body Fat Percentage (Definition)

Body fat percentage is the amount of fat in the body in comparison to every other content of the body. Other body contents are like water, tendons, muscles, bones etc. Men and women have varied percentage of the body fats because of their body composition and physiological characteristics.

But for a male bodybuilder working to rip off his body fat percentage, he well might have a resultant fat percentage of between 3% and 4% while a female bodybuilder between 8% and 9%. On the other side, a male athlete may have a 10% body fat and his shape is fantastic while the female athlete may have 18% to 20% body fat and has a better appearance.

If we compare from an overweight categories, male with 30% body fats look so different from the female with same body fat percentage.

Body Fat Percentage Differences

Your body weight does not have anything to do with the muscle mass amount you may have but is just the amount of fats in your body. You can as well have two people with different morphology but have the same body fat content. Is it surprising?

Many people have no idea what percentage of the body fat content their body would be having and often will underestimate or overestimate quite dramatically.

What is the right body fat percentage?

The below table is the chart for a generally accepted body fat content in their percentages:

Men Women
Essential fat 2-4% 10-12%
Fitness 14-17% 21-24%
Athletes 6-13% 14-20%
Obese Over 26% Over 32%
Acceptable 18-25% 25-31%

Body fat is highly essential for; providing necessary energy stores during energy crisis in the body, protecting the internal organs among others. In the table above, essential fats is the minimum amount of fat that your body need for survival such that below the percentage, your organs might undergo failure – it is literally dangerous. So for this reason, we see the bodybuilders losing their fats up to the essential fat level especially when prepping up for a following scheduled show. But after that, they critically work to maintain a higher percentage of body fat for their bodies to function properly and to stay healthy.

A better body fat percentage would hover around the athletes row if anyone wants that ripped and toned look. And if you merely want to be healthy and pride yourself in the mirror, aim at the fitness range of body fat percentage. If you get to obese and acceptable ranges, you can benefit health-wise when you work to reduce some body fats. Find some tips to reduce the body fat content below (starters guide);

  • You wanna get the six pack? Men, go for 8 to 11% range and women, go for 15 to 17% range.
  • Are you concerned about fertility or menstruation? Though it is said to target below 15% of body fat but studies have shown a damn conflict. This might achieve different results on different women. However, it is good to have mentioned it.
  • Trying to look like Jesica Beil in Blade III or Ryan Reynolds? Aim for 6 to 8% body fat percentage (male) and/or 13 to 15% (female). You however need to take note that your athletic or strength gaining performance might be too strained at this percentage to present a great challenge to you.
  • You wanna feel good and look pretty? Get that on a fat content less than 18% (men) and between 20 and 23% for women.

Measuring or calculating your body fat percentage

The seven basic methods of measuring your body fat percentage are below. However, each have varying accuracy levels and cost:

  1. Taking a look at your body: It will take a trained eye to get an exact percentage of body fat. It might be your favorite method once you are quite accurate on this method. Capture your pictures on a weekly basis and do comparisons to determine what your body fat percentage would be.
  2. Direct Measurement Method: After taking direct measurements, you can then calculate the percentage of your body fats. However, this method is not that accurate because it easily overestimates your body fat. Reason may be because of the very few points of measurement data taken.
  3.  Water displacement method: It is tedious, expensive and painful at the butt but very accurate.
  4. Use body fat calipers (a set goes for $5): On your skin, try separating fats from muscles by pulling the adipose tissue away. With the caliper, pinch them, measure and refer to the chart to find out your body fat percentage. You can either use one test or multiple test sites.
  5. Use of body fat scales and monitors: Here, you will have electrical current passing through your body using a biometrical impedance analysis. However, it can give a horribly inaccurate finding. How? This electric current flow might yoke fat together with water content of your body in fat content measurement to add up water values on top of fats.
  6. Use of Bod Pod: This method uses air displacement to measure the body volume, mass and density. Compared to others, this method is pretty accurate but very expensive. Per session will go for $75.
  7. DEXA Scanning: It is the most accurate because it takes your body composition’s full dual X-ray and computes you numbers. This can be done at a health centre or facility. It may involve you lying for approximately 10 minutes on an X-Ray table. Cost? It is very expensive, per session ranging between $50 and $150, and also depending on your location.

Note: Whenever you test, measure or calculate your body fat percentage, do it every time under the same conditions. For example, every morning of Monday, empty stomach, and drinking a single glass of water. This way, you are going to find consistent values and can be easy to calculate fat lost even if the method might not be accurate.

But do you seek for the accurate method? Ok, with the money get to a Bod Pod Centre that is next to you. This would provide you with credible results coupled with best practicality. But without money, go for that simple body fat caliper and combine the method together with ‘taking a look’ method weekly.

Best way to reduce body fat percentage

  1. Move frequently, lift heavy things: Strength training with heavy things gets you stronger and maintains your muscle mass. This also pushes your metabolism to an ‘afterburner’ effect which will burn any extra calories after finishing your workout.
  2. Carefully and accurately track your diet plan: You can use a cheap food scale to ensure that the number of calories you consume each day are right to what you think you have been eating. Weigh your food, get your calories accurately dialed in and lose your pounds of fats.
  3. Eat a low caloric diet: To lose weight, you need to eat a diet or meal with very low calories. This means your body will be burning more calories than what you consume. In this process fats are properly delved on for energy.
  4. Diet on enough proteins, lower fats and/or carbs: Let the caloric intake to be too lower to allow metabolism of fats for fueling. Eventually, it results to fat loss
  5. Off days with sprints: Similar ‘afterburner’ effect is created on sprinting after that strength training session. This means that sprinting will extend the burning of calories to their extras.
  6. Try intermittent fasting: If you want to lose fat quite faster, strength train on your fasting state and avoid any meals in the morning until your work out is done.

These processes may not be an overnight mission. Just start experimenting a process on yourself for effectuality. Try implementing above suggested processes and track your body fat. Observe it changing and adjust accordingly based on your results. Remember: Temporary changes will get you temporary results.

Is the BMI the same as body fat percentage?

No. Body Mass Index (BMI) will measure your height and weight and compute a ratio that depicts if you are obese, overweight, normal weight or underweight. For instance, when your weight is increasing unequally to your height, you are more likely to become overweight. The BMI is basically not correlated to the body fat percentage because it deals on height and weight elements of the body. Body fats is a way little contributor of weight.

However, when you get on a serious exercise to lose the damn fats and have that flat stomach, BMI will be overlooked as a less indicator of health.