Body Fat Percentage Chart-How to Measure Body Fat– By the end of this article, you would have learned all there is about body fat percentage. You will also learn how to measure body fat using various methods. So let us get started!
You are probably already wondering what exactly body fat percentage entails. The body fat percentage of an individual is the percentage of the individual’s weight that is fat. In other words, it is the fat tissue composition of a person’s total body weight (1).
For example, if you weigh 100 pounds and you have 10 pounds of fat, your body fat percentage is 10%. As you lose or gain fat or muscle, your body fat percentage changes. Meaning if you gain extra pounds and you start weighing 150 pounds and your fat composition increases to 30 pounds, your new body fat percentage would increase to 20%. This means your body fat percentage changes as your body composition changes.
Body Fat Percentage vs BMI(Body Mass Index)
A lot of people often confuse body fat percentage with body mass index (BMI). However, they are not the same.
BMI is the ratio of your weight in kilograms (kg) divided by the square of your height in meters (m). If your BMI is between 24.9 and 30, then you are overweight. If your BMI ratio is more than 30, then you are obese. You are underweight or of normal weight if your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 or less than 18.5 respectively.
BMI is totally different from body fat percentage. Several studies prefer the use of body fat percentage to measure body fat. It is also the preferable option to determine the overall health of an individual.
Some studies prefer the use of body fat percentage to distinguish between obese and healthy people. This is because an individual could have a great BMI reading and still be unhealthy. If fat accounts for most of his overall weight, he will still be prone to chronic diseases.
How then do you determine a healthy body fat percentage for women and men?
The possibility of a healthy body fat percentage means body fat also plays an important role in your body. Body fat helps to maintain your body temperature. It also protects your vital organs from damage amongst many other functions. As you already know, excess body fat is dangerous to your overall health. The journal Annals of Internal Medicine reported that low BMI and an increased body fat percentage lead to high mortality rate (2).
This, therefore, means that not having enough body fat is as dangerous as having excess body fat.
Body Fat Percentage Chart-How to Measure Body Fat Accurately at Home
Body Fat Percentage Chart
Measuring your body fat is a great way to measure your overall health. People with high body fat percentage and low fitness levels are in danger of having chronic diseases. They are more likely to suffer from diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The body fat percentage chart helps you know how much fat in your body is healthy or not. This chart takes into account your gender and age group when measuring body fat. With the use of body fat percentage chart, you will know how much weight you need to lose or gain.
See the widely accepted body fat percentage chart. This chart helps you know when you lack enough body fat or have excess.
Essential fat is the minimum amount of fat your body requires in order to function properly. A lower body fat percentage could cause your body organs to fail.
Most people that fall under the athletes’ section are those with the six-pack abs. Basically, people that spend most of their time in the gym trying to build more muscles. Fitness range is for people that are neither fat nor overly built-up. They usually just look healthy.
Acceptable is the highest possible fat percentage your body requires. Once you start getting to the higher ends of acceptable or you become obese, it is unhealthy. You find a way to reduce your body fat percentage so you can remain healthy. You can achieve that through dieting or regular exercising. Or better still; contact your doctor to know your options.
The above chart simply helps you to know your level of fitness. It helps you know when to lose excess fat to stay healthy.
Body Fat Percentage Chart for Women
According to most studies, women require more body fat than their male counterparts because of their reproductive function(3).
The chart below shows the healthy body fat percentage for women as they grow older.
|Up to 20||11-18%||18-23%||23-30%||30-35%|
|56 & up||16-27%||27-32%||32-37%||37-40%|
Body Fat Percentage Chart for Men
Generally, men require less fat than women in order to stay healthy and avoid obesity-related health issues.
The chart below shows the healthy body fat percentage for men as they grow older.
|Up to 20||2-8%||8-14%||14-21%||21-25%|
|56 & up||10-21%||26-31%||26-31%||31-34%|
How to Measure Body Fat Percentage
The body fat percentage charts above help you to know the normal fat levels for your gender and age. How then do you know the percentage of your overall body weight contains fat? You can determine that using various tools and methods. These methods vary in cost and accuracy. See them below:
1. How to Measure Body Fat with Skinfold Calipers
They are quite accurate, which is a surprise considering how cheap they are. Skinfold calipers measure the thickness of the folds of your skin to determine if you are at the risk of any diseases. They are useful for measuring skin fat in different parts of your body. For reliable and accurate results, make sure you measure the exact same spot every time you use skinfold caliper.
For men, you can take readings from skinfolds on the abdomen, thigh, and chest. While for women, you measure skinfolds on the side of their abdomen, back of their upper arm and their thigh.
How to Measure Body Fat at Home without Calipers
2. Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) Scanning
A lot of people are of the opinion that it is the most accurate way of measuring body fat. It involves the use of a full X-ray of your body to determine its fat composition. However, this method is very expensive.
3. The Bod Pod
This is another accurate but expensive method of measuring body fat percentage. It involves the use of air displacement to measure your body volume, mass, and density.
4. Water displacement
Although accurate, this method is expensive and a huge pain in the ass. Go to a health facility to find out exactly how it works.
5. Anthropometric method
This is a cheap and easy way to measure body fat percentage. It involves calculating your body fat by taking various measurements of your body. You can use a cloth measuring tape for this.
For men, they can take measurements of their height and around the neck and abdomen. Women measure their height as well as the circumference of their neck and hips. However, this method is the least accurate way to measure body fat percentage.
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6. Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA)
This is another method you can use to measure your body fat. It involves the use of body fat monitors and scales. These instruments use BIA by measuring the resistance of your body to a light electrical current.
The principle of BIA is that muscles are great conductors of electricity, unlike fat. This is because of the high water content in muscles. Therefore, the more resistant your body is to an electric current, the fatter you are.
It is an easy way to calculate your body fat percentage. However, these devices are not suitable for pregnant women or athletes.
Body Fat Percentage Formulas
Here are body fat percentage formulas you can use at home;
United States Body Fat Percentage Formula Navy Method
- Body Fat Percentage Formula for women is :
= 495 / (1.29579 – .35004 * log10(Waist + Hip – Neck) + 0.22100 * log10(Height)) – 450
Body Fat Percentage Formula for Men
= 495 / (1.29579 – .35004 * log10(Waist – Neck) + 0.22100 * log10(Height)) – 450
- Fat Mass Formula
Fat Mass = Body Fat % * Weight
Lean Mass Formula
Lean Mass = Weight – Fat Mass
Body Fat Category
Category = Acceptable = 18%-31% (depending on gender)
Using the BMI-Body Mass Index
- Body Fat Percentage Formula for Child
= (1.51 x BMI) – (0.70 x Age) – (3.6 x sex) + 1.4
- Body Fat Percentage Formula for Adult
= (1.20 x BMI) + (0.23 x Age) – (10.8 x sex) – 5.4
Note: If you want to use BMI estimation formula, sex is 1 for males and 0 for females.
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Body Adiposity Index
Body Fat – body adiposity index – Formula
BAI = ( 100 x Hip(meters) ) / ( Height(meters) x (Height(meters)1/2) – 18
NOTE: Every time you want to test your body fat percentage, always make sure you measure your body fat under the same conditions.