Medical experts opine that body fat is an indicator of health. Healthy body functioning requires certain amount of fat as it plays a vital role in supplying energy. In fact, fat in our body isn't totally bad. Just that it has to be maintained at an appropriate level. The question is how much fat is bad and how much is good fat?
Body fat percentage calculator is used to determine body fat percentage. The results indicate if you have an ideal body fat percentage, a healthy or an unhealthy body fat percentage. Estimate body fat percentage, you can then proceed with an appropriate plan of action.
Body fat basics
Fat is stored in different parts of the body. Fat in the marrow of bones, in the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, muscles, and lipid-rich tissues throughout the central nervous system is called essential fat. As the name suggests, it is indeed essential for the normal functioning of our body. Essential fat should make up 4% of body weight for men and 10% for women. The other fat which accumulates in adipose tissue is called storage fat. It provides bodily protection and serves as an insulator to conserve body heat. After all, fat is not all bad, but overeating is.
Consumption of fatty foods complemented by an inactive lifestyle will only add to extra body weight. Genes can also play a part. If left unchecked, it can result in obesity, a serious health hazard.
To measure obesity, BMI is rated as a good measure. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals around the world use BMI to determine whether a person is overweight or clinically obese. Body mass index helps determine the healthy weight proportionate to height.
But, a drawback with BMI is that it doesn't take into account a person's body fat content. There are possibilities that BMI may overestimate body fat if the person is muscular or athletic and report a high BMI. Likewise, if the person has low muscle mass it may underestimate body fat and report a low BMI.
While the BMI gives a broad general measure of risk, body fat percentage assessment gives you a more accurate picture. The BMI formula indicates the amount of fat in body in relation to lean tissue. For most people, this equation provides a fairly accurate association of the amount of body fat they have. To calculate BMI, divide body weight (in pounds) by height squared (in inches).
It is best to use BMI as a rough screening tool and use body fat percentage calculator to measure body fat percentage accurately. If fat content is unknown, associated risks like developing heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, stroke, breast and colon cancer may be ignored and remain undetected for a long time. Associated emotional problems like low self-esteem and depression too may go unrecognized.
Body fat percentage
Body fat percentage increases with every pound of weight gained. Body weight consists of both lean body mass and body fat. Lean body mass is the sum of weight of bones, muscles and organs etc. Losing lean body mass is clearly not desirable. The goal of a healthy weight loss program should be to lose fat, burn more calories duly preserving lean tissue. Losing too much fat is detrimental to health. It is recommended not to go lower than 3% in men and not lower than 11% in women that too for an extended period.
What exactly is body fat percentage? Simply put, body fat percentage is the percentage of fat that your body contains. Body fat percentage is defined as the amount of adipose (fat) tissue in the body as a percentage of total body weight. Too much body fat or too little body fat, both do not support healthy functioning of our body.
Too much body fat can increase risks of developing serious health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Too little deprives body of stored energy, safety of organs and can cause body to enter a state of catabolism, also known as destructive metabolism.
Not too much or too little: Maintaining an ideal body fat percentage, a healthy body fat percentage is safe for the maintenance of good health. The percentage differs for men and women as body composition varies and body fat depends on variables like body type, age, genetics, habits, activities and diet. The female hormone estrogen contributes to about 5% more body fat in women than men.
Refer body fat percentage recommendation of World Health Organization and National Institutes of Health.
|Age||Low fat||Healthy Range||Overweight||Obese|
|20-40 yrs||Under 21%||21-33%||33-39%||Over 39%|
|41-60 yrs||Under 23%||23-35%||35-40%||Over 40%|
|61-79 yrs||Under 24%||24-36%||36-42%||Over 42%|
|Age||Low fat||Healthy Range||Overweight||Obese|
|20-40 yrs||Under 8%||8-19%||19-25%||Over 25%|
|41-60 yrs||Under 11%||11-22%||22-27%||Over 27%|
|61-79 yrs||Under 13%||13-25%||25-30%||Over 30%|
Ideal body fat percentage
There isn't a single ideal body fat percentage. The generally accepted ideal body fat percentage range for women and men is provided. Staying outside the range for a longer time can be a signal for impending health problems.
Healthy body fat percentage
In order to maintain optimum health, men should be aiming to keep their body fat percentage within a range of 10 to 20 % and women, between 15 and 25 %. In other words for males 10 to 20 percent of total body weight should be fat, and females, 15 to 25 percent of total body weight should be fat.
Body fat percentage calculator
There are various assessment methods to measure body fat percentage. The availability of body fat percentage calculator has made it easy to measure body fat from the convenience of home. Online body fat percentage calculators make it easier to monitor fat levels and determine if it's healthy or unhealthy body fat percentage. The results help in chalking out a plan incorporating essential changes in lifestyle, exercise, diet etc.
Online BMI calculator: To measure online body fat percentage your age, height and weight, gender and waist measurement is taken into account. Input the details. Refer chart/tables that give basic body fat percentage guidelines for men and women. The results will help you determine a healthy and realistic weight loss program.
Skin-fold calipers: Another easier, practical, self-testing method is using calipers as a tool to determine body fat percentage. Calipers are a clamp-like device. The calipers work by pulling subcutaneous fat away from the muscle with the tongs situated at their ends. The measurements/numbers have to input into the calculator. When taking measurements, it is best to repeat it three times to see the pattern. Continue to take measurement until two consecutive measurements vary by less than 1millimeter. It is important to measure at the same spot each time. Follow the instructions that come with the fat calipers carefully. Even without using the formula, you can just note down the skin fold measurements and monitor the change over time.
Bioelectrical impedance: This method is simple and quick to perform. If you have the right equipment, it can be done at home. There are sophisticated and expensive devices as well as affordable bathroom type weighing scales fitted with bio electrical impedance. To calculate body fat percentage, a small electrical charge is sent into one hand gripping the device. The charge travels through the body, and then back through the other hand that is gripping another panel on the device. Then, the time it takes for the electrical charge to pass through the body is used to determine about how much of your body is composed of fat. It is not recommended for people with pacemakers.
Hydrostatic weighing: Basic science knowledge is handy in understanding hydrostatic weighing as a body fat percentage calculator. Weight of an object when immersed in water is different from the weight when the object was kept in the open, a principle based on which the body fat percentage is determined. The test is conducted using a water tank of sorts and requires that the person to be tested be submerged completely underwater. The amount of water displaced is measured and the body density is calculated. Then a formula is used to calculate body fat based on body density. There are many universities, clinics and several companies where hydrostatic weighing as a test to measure body fat percentage is done. A person with more body fat will weight less underwater and be more buoyant.
DEXA Scanning: DEXA stands for 'dual energy x-ray absorptiometry'. DEXA is primarily used to measure bone density and lean mass. It can also pinpoint fat readings. The system utilizes a movable electronic scanner that x-rays your body from head to toe. It takes approximately 15 minutes to run, and costs upwards of $100 per session. Before opting to determine body fat percentage using DEXA scanning method, consult healthcare provider and obtain opinion. Also, check with your insurance company if this test is covered under your current health insurance policy. Indeed, there is the risk of radiation exposure. However, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects.
Infer body fat percentage results
If the results point toward an unhealthy body fat percentage, it's time to initiate a weight loss program if not already engaged in one. Those who are already in a weight loss program need to reframe the current program to reduce body fat. Discuss with physical fitness trainer, dietitian and healthcare professional. Changes should not in any way be detrimental to your well-being.