Body Fat Chart for Healthy Body Fat Percentage

body-fatWhat’s your healthy body fat vs BMI (body mass index)? The differences between your BMI and body fat percentage can cause confusion.

But the healthy percentage body fat chart below, along with our guidelines of how to measure body fat percentage, will help to clear things up for you.

Now, back to body fat vs BMI. A healthy body fat percentage is considered a better measure of fitness than the BMI. This is because your body fat percentage measures your lean body mass compared to your body fat.

The BMI, on the other hand, assumes that everyone of a specific height should ideally be in the same weight range. This can be misleading.

For example, someone with high lean muscle mass could appear “overweight” even though their body fat percentage indicates excellent physical condition. And an unfit thin person could appear healthy and fit.

Healthy Percentage Body Fat Chart

This body fat percentage chart is based on World Health Organization and National Institutes of Health recommendations. To get and stay fit and trim, aim for the healthy body fat percentage (Healthy %) age column below.

Women

Age Range Too Low % Healthy % Too High % Obese
20-39 yrs. Under 21% 21-33% 33-39% Over 39%
40-59 yrs. Under 23% 23-35% 35-40% Over 40%
60-79+yrs. Under 24% 24-36% 36-42% Over 42%

Men

Age Range Too Low % Healthy % Too High % Obese
20-39 yrs. Under 8% 8-19% 19-25% Over 25%
40-59 yrs. Under 11% 11-22% 22-27% Over 27%
60-79+yrs. Under 13% 13-25% 25-30% Over 30%

Your body fat percentage is your total weight divided by your essential body fat and storage body fat. Essential body fat is necessary for normal, healthy functioning of all of your body systems. Essential fat is 3–5% in men and 8–12% in women (for normal reproductive functioning).

Storage body fat is stored up for energy. But it’s often over-stocked!

How to Measure Body Fat Percentage

If you want to reduce body fat percentage, it’s time to give up weighing on the standard bathroom scale. You want to lose body fat, not weight.

Here are four ways to measure body fat percentage:

1. The Fat Calculator – The easiest way is to use an online calculator to get a rough estimate of your body fat percentage. This is not the most accurate measure of body fat percentage, but it’s a good place to start.

2. Calipers Pinch Test – A more reliable way to measure your body fat percentage is by using calipers. The main problem with calipers is you have to have the fat pinch test done by someone who’s trained to measure body fat percentage. But most gyms will have a trainer who can do this.

3. Hydrostatic Weighing – One of the most accurate ways to measure body fat is by submerging a person under water and using a specific formula to calculate their body fat percentage. However, not many places have the equipment for this process. So it’s an impractical choice.

4. A body fat analyzer – The easiest accurate way to measure body fat percentage is by using a body fat analyzer. Whether you use a hand held or body fat monitor scale, the analyzer is by far the best way to track your body fat changes. The monitor scale calculates your body fat percentage by sending a safe, low-level electrical signal up through your feet.

Our healthy body fat percentage chart can help you get into great shape. Now that you know how to measure body fat percentage using the healthy body fat chart above, it’s time to learn how to lose body fat.

More CommonSenseHealth for you:
How to Reduce Body Fat Percentage
Best Ways to Increase Metabolism Naturally
The Glycemic Index Food List of Low GI Foods
Healthy Permanent Weight Loss Strategies that Work

References:

Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, et al. New England Journal of Medicine. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med 2009;360:859-73.

Flegal K, Carroll M, Kuczmarski R, Johnson C. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. Prevalence and trends of overweight and obesity in the US population using standardized international definitions. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1998;22:39-47.

Is Total Fat Consumption Really Decreasing? USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Huang Z, Willett WC, Manson JE, et al. Annals of Internal Medicine. Body weight, weight change, and risk for hypertension in women. Ann Intern Med 1998;128:81–8.

Willett WC, Leibel RL. The American Journal of Medicine. Dietary fat is not a major determinant of body fat. Am J Med 2002; 113 Suppl 9B:47S–59S.

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