Do you want to know what percentage of body fat you have? What does the amount of fat in your body say about your health status? Click here for further information.
The Body Fat Calculator is a helpful tool for computing the exact percentage of your body fat through the parameters of gender, age, height, weight, neck, and waist measurements. For best results, measure as accurately as 1/4 inch (0.5 cm). This calculation is based on the U.S. Navy methods and also includes the BMI methods. The result will tell you which body fat category you belong to so that you can determine the status of your body’s fat and take the appropriate measures to maintain a healthy body state.
Here is the body fat calculator:
Table of Contents
- What Does Your Body Fat Percentage Say About You?
- What is the Healthy Body Fat Percentage?
- Measuring Your Body Fat Percentage
- Things to Know about Body Fat, Overweight and Obesity
- Potential Complications of Excess Body Fat
- Reducing Body Fat and Preventing Obesity
What Does Your Body Fat Percentage Say About You?
Body fat percentage (BFP) of a person or another organism is total fat mass divided by the total body mass, multiplied by 100. Body fat is composed of essential body fat and stored body fat. Fat storage in the body includes fat accumulation in adipose tissue, a part of which protects organs and joints.
Body fat percentage can measure the fitness level and is essential to know when evaluating how healthy your body is. It divides the total body weight into two categories: fat mass and others. Your fat level can tell a lot about your health.
For example, if your fat ratio is too low, your resistance to disease and energy levels are lower. It increases the risk of health problems and can potentially affect immunity, fertility, and heart health. Conversely, if your body fat percentage is too high, you have a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems. Therefore, it is crucial to measure the percentage of fat in your body to know how to keep it at a healthy level to control your health and reduce the risk of related diseases.
What is the Healthy Body Fat Percentage?
Before digging into the body fat percentage methods and measurements, get to know what recommended body fat percentage ranges for men and women look like. So what is the percentage of fat in the body that is considered healthy?
The suggested healthy range of body fat for men is usually defined as 8-19%, while the figure is 21-33% for women. In fact, women need a little more body cushion for regular menstruation and a healthy environment for the growing fetus, so the percentage of essential body fat of women is naturally higher than that of men.
On the other hand, the rate of ideal body fat percentile may vary with age. As humans age, the acceptable body fat within the ranges tends to increase. Experts explain that older ones have a lower body density for the exact skinfold measurements. And the amount of intramuscular fat tends to increase over time.
Besides, people with varying levels of physical activity also have different ideal amounts of body fat. As in general, highly active people will need a greater percentage of essential body fat to keep up their bodies’ energy.
Ideal Body Fat Percentage for Men
Men generally have a lower ratio of body fat to lean tissue than women due to the need for fertility and other hormonal functions in women. In men, fat is mainly stored in the abdomen. Abdominal fat, also known as belly fat, is not good, so that the ideal fat percentage applied for men will be lower.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the body fat percentage of men was divided into the following categories:
|Category||Body Fat Percentage|
ACE suggests that a man’s ideal average body fat ratio should be between 18 and 24 percent. Male athletes may have a lower percentage of body fat, between 6 and 13 percent. Meanwhile, men who are passionate about fitness should have about 14 to 17 percent body fat.
For the ideal body fat percentage by age ranges, the Mayo Clinic staff, along with other health professionals, listed the following men’s age-specific body fat percentile recommendations:
|Age Range||Body Fat Percentage||Description|
You can also refer to Jackson & Pollard’s ideal body fat percentage table, which gives the recommended body fat percentage for each specific age of men:
|Age||Ideal Body Fat Percentage|
Ideal Body Fat Percentage for Women
Women aiming to have a healthy body will need a higher fat ratio than men under all the same things such as age and level of exercise because they need more of an essential body fat percentile for reproductive health. According to some charts, women’s body fat percentage will be broken down by category while others break down the range by age.
According to the study of American Council on Exercise (ACE), the body fat percentage is divided into different categories in the chart below:
|Category||Body Fat Percentage|
According to the table above, the average woman should aim to achieve a body fat percentage of between 25 and 31 percent, which is considered healthy. On the other hand, women who exercise regularly may need as little as 21 to 24 percent of their body fat, and female athletes can have at least 14 to 20 percent of the body fat percentage.
For the ideal body fat percentage based on the woman’s age, we have the following guidelines for the healthy body fat percentage of women by a specific range of ages:
|Age Range||Body Fat Percentage||Description|
The following table shows Jackson & Pollard Ideal Body Fat Percentages of women based on specific age:
|Age||Ideal Body Fat Percentage|
Measuring Your Body Fat Percentage
There are several ways and techniques to measure your body fat percentage. Each method will have its advantages and disadvantages, and relative precision. Widely used body fat percentage measurement techniques include:
The U.S. Navy methods are one of the best methods for estimating a person’s body fat with good accuracy. The U.S. Navy developed this method which involves equations developed at the Naval Health Research Center by Hodgdon and Beckett in 1984. This calculator is used to determine the percentage of body fat of all United States Navy service members to see if they can join the navy. The method measures body parts related and uses specific equations to calculate body fat percentage as below. You will need a measuring tape and then taking the measurements:
- First, measure the subject’s waist circumference at the smallest width for women and the horizontal level around the navel for men. Make sure subjects being measured are not pulling their stomachs inward for accurate results.
- Next, measure the circumference of your subject’s neck starting from below the larynx, with the tape sloping down the front. The subject should avoid arching the neck out.
- For women only: Measure the hip circumference at the largest horizontal measurement.
Once you have the results of the measurements, use the following formulas to calculate your estimated body fat. Of the two equations provided, one using the U.S. customary system (USC), which in inches, and the other one uses the International System of Units, here are in centimeters:
Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for men:
- USC Units:
BFP = 86.010 * log10(abdomen-neck) – 70.041 * log10(height) + 36.76
- SI, Metric Units:
BFP = 495/(1.0324 – 0.19077 * log10(waist-neck) + 0.15456 * log10(height)) – 450
Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for women:
- USC Units:
BFP = 163.205 * log10(waist+hip-neck) – 97.684 * (log10(height)) – 78.387
- SI, Metric Units:
BFP = 495/(1.29579 – 0.35004 * log10(waist+hip-neck) + 0.22100 * log10(height)) – 450
Please note that the results of these calculations are estimates only as they are based on a variety of assumptions that make them applicable to as many subjects as possible.
The BMI is a person’s body mass index, which can be easy to calculate and valuable in some cases. BMI index is also used to calculate estimates of body fat percentage, taking into account your height and weight. Still, it is not a reliable indicator of your overall health as it cannot distinguish between fat and lean muscle weight. For instance, if your body fat percentile is low, but you have a lot of muscle, your BMI will also be high. Therefore, it might not be very accurate for the elderly, very muscular, or pregnant people.
Experts often use this method to calculate whether a person is underweight, average weight, overweight or obese. For most people, BMI is closely related to the amount of body fat they have, or there is a clear correlation between a higher BMI and negative health consequences.
You’ll need to calculate your BMI to determine your body fat percentage estimate using the BMI method. Once you’ve measured your BMI, you can use the following formulas to estimate body fat percentage:
- Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for adult males:
BFP = 1.20 * BMI + 0.23 * Age – 16.2
- Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for adult females:
BFP = 1.20 * BMI + 0.23 * Age – 5.4
- Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for young boys:
BFP = 1.51 * BMI – 0.70 * Age – 2.2
- Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for young girls:
BFP = 1.51 * BMI – 0.70 * Age + 1.4
Underwater weighing, also known as hydrostatic weighing or hydrodensitometry, is a method for measuring body fat with great accuracy by submerging a person in the water and measuring the volume of the displaced water. The displacement will indicate the body volume. Test administrators can use your underwater weight to estimate how much fat you have because when underwater, lean tissue sinks and fat floats.
Your body density is calculated by measuring your weight on land and your weight underwater using volume and body mass measurements. This body density can then be used to calculate the percentage of your body fat using a conversion equation. If your underwater weight is relatively heavy, your body fat percentage will be lower and vice versa.
Whole-body Air Displacement Plethysmography
The whole-body air displacement plethysmography (ADP) is another scientifically validated densitometric method. It uses a person’s body mass and volume to measure the percentage of their body fat.
While doing the ADP, you will be sitting inside an attached device called a Bod Pod. Scales inside the Bod Pod measure body mass, while air pressure sensors measure the amount of air displaced by you. The displaced volume of air will indicate your body volume.
Your body mass and volume will be used to calculate body density. Once the results are available, the test calculators will use three additional measurements to determine the fat percentage in your body.
The Air-displacement plethysmography method offers several advantages: a fast, comfortable, automatic, and safe measurement that can apply to a wide range of subjects, including children, the elderly, the obese, and the disabled. However, its precision declines at the extremes of body fat percentages. It tends to slightly decrease the percentage of body fat in overweight and obese people (1.68–2.94%) and to magnify the percentage of body fat to a much greater extent in subjects who were very thin (average 6.8%, up to a 13% overstatement of an individual’s reported body ratio).
Dual X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) Scan
Dual X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) Scan is a more current method for determining the percentage of body fat and body composition, and bone mineral density. This method works thanks to two different energies of the X-ray. One ray is absorbed more strongly by fat than the other. The computer can subtract one image from the other, and the difference indicates the amount of fat relative to the other tissues at each point. A sum over the entire image lets you calculate overall body composition. This scan has the advantage that it performs pretty quickly and takes bone into account when comparing body fat with muscle.
Body Average Density Measurement
This method estimates the percentage of human body fat with high accuracy before DXA. It measures the average density of a subject (total mass divided by total volume). Then apply the formula to convert that into a specified percentage of body fat. Since adipose tissue has a lower density than the muscle and bone, the fat content can be estimated. However, unlike other methods, this method produces highly reproducible results for each person (±1%) and can have an uncertainty of 10% or more. This method uses either of the following formulas to calculate the percentage of body fat (with p representing the density in g/cm3):
- Brozek formula:
BF = (4.57/ρ – 4.142) * 100
- Siri formula:
BF = (4.95/ρ – 4.50) * 100
For the skinfold method, you will measure skin pinch using a caliper, also known as a picometer, at several standard points on the body to determine the subcutaneous fat layer thickness. The results of the measurement are then converted to an estimated percentage of body fat through an equation. Some formulations require at least three measurements, others up to seven. As for the accuracy, it will mainly depend on a single person’s distribution of body fat.
Besides, testing in an accurate location with a static pressure is also essential. Measuring the skin thickness in different body areas can help a person estimate their body fat percentage because the body stores large amounts of fat directly underneath the skin.
The two subjects may have roughly the exact measurements at all skin fold positions, but their body fat levels can be vastly different because of the difference in other body fats. Therefore, although it may not give a precise result on the net body fat percentage, it is a reliable measure of the change in body composition over a period with the same technique.
Body Fat Scale
Some bathroom scales can estimate body fat percentage using a method called bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). With the fat in the body explicitly conducting less electricity less efficiently than other tissues and substances in the body, the BIA will transmit a feeble electrical current through the body to measure its resistance to electric current. If your measurements show a more excellent resistance, then your body fat mass is higher.
BIA can give a reasonable estimate of the percentage of body fat percentage. However, it is not the most precise method out there. Scales from different manufacturers may give different results also.
Things to Know about Body Fat, Overweight and Obesity
Body fat’s scientific term is adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is primarily responsible for several vital functions, including storing lipids for the body to generate energy. It also secretes several vital hormones and gives the body some cushioning and insulation.
The body consists of two types of fat: essential body fat and stored body fat. Essential fats in the body are used to maintain the life and reproductive functions of the body. The amount of essential fat and the healthy range of body fat varies between men and women. Failure to maintain an adequate percentage of essential body fat can have adverse health effects. Therefore, you should ensure that you have adequate amounts of body fat for a healthy body condition.
Storage body fat is the second type of body fat, which accumulates in adipose tissue. It can be subcutaneous fat or visceral fat. While some fat stores are beneficial, excess fat stores can cause highly detrimental effects on health and lead to many other health problems.
In case you do not apply enough measures to limit the increase in body fat, the body will have an excess of fat, leading to overweight and eventually obesity. However, the rate at which body fat accumulates in each person is not the same. It depends on many factors, including genetic factors and behavioral factors such as unhealthy eating and inactivity. Due to different factors, it may be more difficult for some people to reduce body fat stored mainly in the abdomen.
Besides, keep in mind that both men and women store fat differently in the body. And it may change over time. Especially after age 40 or postmenopause in women, there may be excess fat around the abdomen in men or around thighs and buttocks in women due to decreased genitals.
Potential Complications of Excess Body Fat
Obesity nowadays is one of the most concerning health problems in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable global death. It is estimated to cause 111,909 to 365,000 deaths annually in the United States. The rates of overweight and obesity continue to increase in adults and children. Between 1975-2016, the proportion of children and adolescents 5–19 years of age who were overweight or obese increased more than fourfold, from 4% to 18% worldwide.
Obesity causes many severe harms to human health and life. It has been linked to poor quality of life, poor mental health, obstructive sleep apnea, and an increased risk of the world’s leading fatal diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. All of these potential complications have the potential to shorten a person’s life span.
According to some studies, excess body fat, especially in the abdomen, can disrupt the balance and normal function of certain hormones essential for the body, leading to adverse effects that prevent proper body functions.
On the other hand, excess visceral fat releases specific cytokines, a protein involved in cell signaling, enhancing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Visceral fat is also directly linked to higher LDL cholesterol, which can cause clogging of the arteries and lead to complications. It also results in insulin resistance, which is associated with the cells not responding correctly to the hormone insulin, leading to high blood sugar and ultimately diabetes. Thereby, we can see the potential health risks that excess body fat causes.
Reducing Body Fat and Preventing Obesity
Excess fat and obesity can cause serious health harm, but fortunately, you can prevent negative results from happening. When it comes to weight loss, you must eat fewer calories than you consume. And if you do that in combination with regular exercise, you will lose body fat. Fat stored in your body has the role of providing energy for the body during famine times. Therefore, when you absorb fewer calories than you burn, your body will automatically burn these stored fats during proper exercise and rest. Regular exercise has numerous benefits, including rapid calorie burning. You should spend 150 minutes of exercise each week.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that you should gradually lose weight – ½ to 1 pound per week – and continue exercising to maximize fat loss and minimize muscle loss. Sports exercises will help you stay in shape and can also help curb your appetite. You also do not need to do complicated exercises or go to the sports center. Simple daily activities like walking, jogging, cycling, pilates, swimming, etc., are very effective and beneficial for you to lose body fat.
Besides, the following ways are also recommended to assist with fat burning and rapid weight loss:
Follow A High-Protein Diet
A high-protein diet is a type of diet that emphasizes the incorporation of high-protein foods into the composition of the meal, which provides effective weight loss. This diet helps to burn more fat and reduce cravings. Increasing the protein ratio in the meal structure reduces the ratio of the remaining two primary nutrients, carbohydrates and fats.
The high-protein diet first became popular in the 1970s with the Scarsdale Diet, which consisted of 43% protein, 22.5% fat, and 34.5% carbohydrates. Today’s most common protein-rich diets include the Atkins diet, the South Beach Diet, and the Dukan Diet.
Studies also point out that a high-protein diet can help maintain muscle mass and metabolism during weight loss. It is also highly effective in reducing belly fat and reducing calories to aid weight loss and keep the body complete, reduce hunger, increase metabolic rate and preserve muscle mass.
Try including a few servings of protein-rich foods into your diet each day to help enhance your fat burning. Some protein-rich foods include meat, seafood, eggs, legumes, and dairy products.
Get Enough Sleep
Several studies have found a link between getting enough sleep and losing weight. Getting to bed on time and getting enough sleep can help boost fat burning and prevent weight gain.
Sleeping at least 7-8 hours a day can help your body burn many calories. The burning of calories depends on the body weight of each person. The more body mass you have, the more calories you burn during sleep and rest. Also, a good night’s sleep will help prevent cravings, helping to reduce the risk of consuming unhealthy foods. It is also very effective at keeping the full stomach longer by increasing the hormone leptin.
More than that, getting enough sleep and going to bed on time will help you feel refreshed and full of energy, which will make you perform well in physical activity for effective weight loss. In short, getting enough sleep plays a vital role in implementing your weight loss plan and helping you eat a healthier diet and activities. If you combine exercise, sleep on time, and eat healthy activities, you will soon achieve losing fat and losing weight for the body.
Add More Healthy Fats In Your Diet
Many people believe that being fat will have adverse effects on health. However, science has proven this thinking completely wrong. Based on the body’s function, fat is divided into two categories, including healthy and unhealthy fats. While unhealthy fats can raise blood cholesterol, healthy fats have many positive effects on human health and help prevent weight gain and help you maintain a feeling of fullness.
In addition, healthy fats can replace refined carbohydrates and bad fats. Therefore, it also can help reduce 80% of the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. These healthy fats are found in olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, salmon, mackerel, sardines, canola oil, soybean oil, flaxseed, sunflower, corn oil, and pecan, etc. A simple dietary change also improves your weight loss performance. So instead of eating more fat, try swapping unhealthy fats in your diet for these healthy fats.
Eat Plenty of Fiber
Fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar and increase feelings of fullness for longer. According to one study, a group of people who increased their daily intake of high-fiber foods to 14g without changing to any other diet lost weight quite effectively.
Increasing your intake of high-fiber foods can help combat fat accumulation and gain weight. You should get at least 25–38g of fiber per day from foods such as fruits, vegetables, roots, legumes, nuts, and whole grains to optimize your health and promote weight loss. Overall, fiber-rich foods will be indispensable in your daily diet for the best results.
Cut Down On Refined Carbs
It is suggested that you should limit the number of carbs in your daily diet to lose weight effectively. It is a healthy 1-month weight loss diet that you need to follow to improve your overall health. However, you may lose weight faster if you reduce refined carbs, a type of carbohydrate with all nutrients and fiber removed during processing. The reason is that refined carbs are high in calories and low in nutrients and easily absorbed into the bloodstream, leading blood sugar to spike.
In a study of 2,834 people, people who ate many refined grains tended to have higher levels of disease-causing belly fat, while those who ate more whole grains had less possibility to have belly fat. Therefore, for the best results, replace refined high-carb foods like cakes, processed foods, pasta, white bread, etc., with whole-grain products like quinoa, buckwheat, etc. quinoa, oats, brown rice, and barley.
Drink Healthy Beverages
Consider the types of beverages you consume as they also determine your weight loss performance. First, make sure you drink a little more than usual for a day. Drinking water is excellent for losing weight. The body usually needs eight glasses of water per day (about 2 liters). Therefore, you can increase your consumption between 2-3 liters per day.
Second, stay away from sugary drinks like soda or juices high in calories and low in nutritional value. In addition, alcohol is also a drink you should avoid because it contains many calories, adversely affects internal organs, increases abdominal opening, and affects sleep. The digestive system makes the weight loss process ineffective. Therefore, limit your intake of these beverages to ensure your caloric intake is always controlled and does not gain belly fat.
Finally, go for great water-based low-calorie drinks like green tea. You can find many caffeine and antioxidants, so green tea has a perfect effect on fat burning and metabolism boosters. Swap portions of high-calorie drinks or alcohol for water, green tea, or other low-calorie beverages, and you’ll see the effect.
How long does it take to lose 10% body fat?
It will take ten weeks to lose 10% of your body fat if you lose a steady amount of 500 calories per day. The period of time may be shorter or longer depending on your body condition and diet, and activity.
What food reduces body fat?
The following foods are good for helping with weight loss and maintaining a healthy body condition:
1. Foods rich in fiber: fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, roots, etc.
2. Protein-rich foods: meat, eggs, fatty fish, yogurt, dairy products, etc.
4. Water, green tea, oolong tea, low-calorie beverages.
5. Foods rich in healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, canola oil, soybean oil, nuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
Does milk make you fat?
Studies show that milk and dairy foods, such as yogurt and cheese, do not make you gain weight. In contrast, fresh milk without sugar also facilitates the body to burn calories and unnecessary fat. It is one of the most cost-effective weight loss foods available.
What percentage of body fat can you see abs?
According to an NSCA-certified personal trainer, who owns Movement Upgraded, men’s abdominal muscles (abs) will show more clearly if they have 6 to 17 percent of body fat. For women, 14 to 24 percent of body fat will have visible abdominal muscles.
Do body fat scales work?
Body fat scales can be beneficial to give a rough estimate of a person’s BFP. It provides essential metrics to measure body fat percentage and provides insights into your health. However, its results are only approximate, and not all smart scales have the same results.
Is body fat percentage better than BMI?
Body fat percentage is way more accurate than BMI. Because although the BMI provides a helpful estimate of body fat, it has many limitations. For instance, BMI does not differentiate between excess fat, muscle, or bone mass, nor does it indicate interpersonal fat distribution.
How often should I check my body fat percentage?
When you use the same body fat assessment routine, it’s best to check your body fat percentile every four weeks. It also helps to ensure the accuracy of your measurements and gives you a more precise comparison.