Body fat. It’s just two words, but those words often strike fear in many of the health-conscious. When we were babies, it was OK to have a few extra rolls here and there, but scientists have found that too much fat is hard on your health by the time you have reached puberty and adulthood. Whatever the reason that keeps you committed to your exercise and food routines – you are trying to lose body fat, trying to keep it from coming back, or trying to make sure you don’t accumulate excess fat – knowing your body fat percentage is important.

As we’ve said before when you create an improvement plan, you need to do the research and gather data, then make decisions to meet your goal. The same is true with reducing or maintaining optimal body fat. So let’s look at the facts to see what’s all the buzz about body fat.

Body fat percentage is the percentage of your weight that is made up of fat. It consists of both storage body fat and essential body fat and the numbers vary depending on type, heredity, age, activity, and gender.

We’ve listed the ‘Ideal Body Fat Percentage’ ranges for both men and women below. Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong answer and we see a vast array of differences even within these groups but when it comes to ideal scenarios, these are good guidelines for your reference and goal setting.

20 – 40 years old

  • Healthy: 21% – 33%
  • Overweight: 33% – 39%
  • Obese: Over 39%

41 – 60 years old

  • Healthy: 23% – 35%
  • Overweight: 35% – 40% 
  • Obese: Over 40%

61 – 79 years old

  • Healthy: 24% – 36%
  • Overweight: 36% – 42% 
  • Obese: Over 42% 

20 – 40 years old

  • Healthy: 8% – 19%
  • Overweight: 19% – 25%
  • Obese: Over 25%

41 – 60 years old

  • Healthy: 11% – 22% 
  • Overweight: 22% – 27%
  • Obese: Over 27%

61 – 79 years old

  • Healthy: 13% – 25%
  • Overweight: 25% – 30% 
  • Obese: Over 30%

One way of measuring your body fat is by using a skinfold caliper. If you were paying any attention in the early 1980s, a breakfast cereal advertised if you could “pinch an inch” on your waist, you would benefit from eating their cereal to lose weight. We’re not sure how beneficial their campaign was, but the whole idea of “pinching” a fold of skin does allow you to find a somewhat accurate measure of your body fat. The skinfold caliper measures the thickness of a fold of your skin and the underlying layer of fat at pre-determined locations on your body (arms, back, and waist). Once again, the smaller the amount of fat that can be measured with the caliper, the lower the amount of excess body fat you have.

Now, you’ve probably heard of people talking about BMI – or body mass index. This is a score that’s created by calculating your height and weight, producing a BMI score. Health experts say that a BMI that ranges between 18.5 and 24.9 is in the normal range. Scores ranging 25-29.9 are overweight, and anything 30 and above land in the obese range. As your BMI goes up, so does your risk of developing weight-related diseases, such as heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The National Institutes of Health have an easy calculator here

The caliper test and the BMI formula will give you an idea of what range you might fall into when it comes to body fat. But think about that body improvement plan you’re working on. As with any plan, the better the research you’ve done, the better the end results can be.

The best way to determine the amount of body fat is a DEXA scan. It’s the most accurate body fat composition out there – the most trusted and scientifically validated measurement of body fat, lean muscle, and bone mineral content. DEXA scan body composition uses low energy, quantitative vs. diagnostic x-ray to measure the proportions of fat, muscle, and bone in the body, and is considered as the gold standard, most thoroughly and scientifically validated method for body fat measurement.

Whether you are wanting to lose a few extra pounds or take a serious look at your body composition to make your workouts more effective, knowing how much fat is in your body will be very helpful.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *