The Ideal Body Fat Percentage

A common goal for anyone who goes for the first time in a gym is to give body fat a proper send-off. Body fat is the fat that you can see in the mirror. Once you get rid of unwanted fat, you will be able to see more ”cuts”. On the other hand, the higher it is, the more fat is covering your muscles. Therefore, if you want to see more ”cuts”, you need to shrink the layer of fat which is under your skin and covers your muscles.

How can you determine the body fat percentage?

One of the most accurate and efficient ways to determine this aspect is with a caliper. These products are designed to clip the fat and measure it under the skin. There are multiple pinch tests, but it’s recommended to use a four or seven point caliper test. Whatever method you are going to use, the key element is consistency. It’s important to be as consistent as possible when taking the measurements. In short words, you have to take them under the same conditions. For example, it’s advisable to do them in the morning after using the restroom, because this will eliminate any discrepancies with fluctuation throughout the day. Additionally, you can also use other methods for measuring fat percentage, including:

  • Biometrical Impedance: this is one of the most expensive methods, measuring the speed of electrical currents as they go through the body.
  • Underwater weighing: This is the most accurate method for measuring fat percentage.
  • Dual X-ray Absorptiometry Scan: this method is using a low-level x-ray, in order to determine the amount of body fat, bone and muscles.

What is the ideal range?

It’s very important to know that a healthy body fat percentage varies greatly depending on your gender, body type and age, as well. Keep on reading the following lines and you will discover the basic guidelines for a healthy fat percentage.

For Men:

  • Ages 20-39: 8% to 19%
  • Ages 40-59: 11% to 21%
  • Ages 60-79: 13% to 24%

For Women:

  • Ages 20-39: 21% to 32%
  • Ages 40-59: 23% to 33%
  • Ages 60-79: 24% to 35%

Moreover, you should know that fat is not generally set in stone. Knowing where you are, will help you track the progress.

For Men:

  • Bodybuilder About to Compete: 3-4 %
  • Really Ripped Ab Look: 8-10%
  • Athletic with Basic Cuts: 12-15%
  • No Cuts: 15%+

For Women:

  • Bodybuilder About to Compete: 8-12%
  • Figure Competitors: 15-17%
  • Toned and Lean: 17-20%
  • No cuts: 20%+

However, these numbers are not the most relevant. Some men have thicker abs than others and some women hold fat in areas not very exposed, while others have a lot of fat only in one area. We are very different and for this reason you have to be pay a special attention to your particularities in order to find out your body fat percentage. Monitoring your health should be your first concern because a balanced lifestyle can be the key to a long life.

What can happen when the body fat is too low?

As you already know, too much of anything is never good for our health. Same happens with our fat. Too much fat will lead to a slew of medical problems. However, what about the opposite. Too low fat can affect our health? Even though you may not like the idea, this fat is quite important for our bodies. It secretes hormones that can help our metabolism work better. For example, hormones regulate appetite and control the body weight. Plus, they also regulate insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, it’s important to know that fat keep us warm and it acts as a layer of cushion for our vital organs. Additionally, it ensures the absorption of vitamin A, D, E and K. In short words, fat is very important for our bodies, so when it is brought down too low you can experience various issues, such as:

  • low sex drive
  • hormone issues
  • low energy
  • a consistent feeling of cold
  • high cortisol level
  • lower metabolism resulting in no weight loss.

The most effective methods to lower the fat percentage

When it comes to losing weight, you need to know that 80% of what you see in the mirror is based on our nutritional habits. Therefore, if you are thinking about losing body fat, you should determine how many calories you are taking in. You need to keep a detailed food journal for three days, where you should write everything, including proteins, fats, carbs and calories. Doing this, you will know the average amount of calories you are currently consuming. Keep in mind that when you drop calories too quickly, you may have several health issues. As such, it’s recommended that you make small changes every 1-3 weeks.

Conclusions

After you determine your body fat percentage it’s very important to decide what you have to do next. In case you are within the ideal range, then you don’t have to make any significant changes. However, you can always opt for doing more physical activity and eat healthier. In case you find out that you have a higher body fat percentage, then it’s time to make some significant changes. Start by adopting a healthier lifestyle which is absolutely necessary. At the same time, it’s recommended that you monitor your body fat percentage regularly to see your progress and make the necessary changes to achieve your goal.

2 Comments

  1. Martin says:

    Which are the health risks of having an excessive body fat?

    • Jake Green says:

      Hello, Martin. Unfortunately, too much body fat can expose you to many health risks including stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Therefore, you have to take the necessary steps in order to find out your body fat percentage and in case this is not within the normal limits, it’s best for your health to start losing all the excessive fat.