What is body fat percentage?

How do I calculate it? Is there any body fat percentage formula?

Are body fat percentage scales accurate?

How much body fat percentage should I have?

There’s no doubt in the fact that your percent body fat directly affects your performance in various types of sports, health, and day to day life. In fact, if you are an athlete or bodybuilder, it becomes twice as important to keep a track of your body fat percentage.

And with this article, I will try to answer all your queries pertaining to body fat percentage. Trust me, you will thank me later.


Body fat is the amount of fat present in your body, apart from everything else including your muscles, tendons, bones and your organs – the stomach, kidney, liver, brain, etc.

Body fat can be further classified into two categories: Essential Fat and Storage Fat.

Essential Fat is the fat which is required for healthy functioning of the body. The amount of essential fat in a male is approximately 3% of the body weight. On the other hand, females have a high percentage of essential fat – about 12%.

Anything less than this level of body fat can prove fatal for the body and worst – organ failure.

It is because of this very reason that all the bodybuilders keep a higher body fat levels throughout the year and cut down only when they getting ready for the show.

Storage fat, as the name suggests, is the type of fat that you store beneath your skin and muscles. This fat is responsible for protecting your internal organs from injuries.

Although storage fat is important for the body, too much of it can lead to excess weight gain. So, it is this storage fat that you want to lose when you want to lose weight.


Ideal Body Fat percentage Chart by ACE (American Council on Exercise) 

Description Men Women
Essential fat 2-5% 10-13%
Athletes 6-13% 14-20%
Fitness 14-17% 21-24%
Average 18-24% 25-31%
Obese 25% + 32% +

While the above body fat percentage chart takes into consideration the gender differences, it fails to take the age factor into account. This limitation can be overcome by below mentioned chart.

Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart by Jackson and Pollock

Age in Years Body fat% in Men Body fat% in women
20 8.5% 17.7%
25 10.5% 18.4%
30 12.7% 19.3%
35 13.7% 21.5%
40 15.3% 22.2%
45 16.4% 22.9%
50 18.9% 25.2%
55 20.9% 26.3%


Here’s determining the ideal body fat percentage range for your fitness goals 

GOAL MEN Body fat % WOMEN Body fat %
Fitness level: GOD 5-7% 13-15%
Super Six Pack Abs 8-11% 15-17%
Athletic performance in sports 15% 20%
Look pretty and feel good 18% 20-25%



Here are few pictures of what men and women look like with different percentage of body fat –




female body fat percentage

Here’s the real deal – While body fat percentage simply represents the amount of total body fat you have, it has nothing to do with the muscle mass you possess.

Yes, you guessed it right. There can be two different people with the same amount of body fat percentage yet look different from each other.


By simply visualising

This is the simplest method of all, I guess. All you need is a set of accurate pictures describing various body fat percentages. You can then compare yourself with those pictures and it might take few trails before you finally come to a conclusion.

However, you will have to sacrifice accuracy for its cheapness and simplicity.

By using body fat calipers  

Don’t worry, the body fat caliper will cost you only a few bucks.

Stretch the fat away from your muscles and pinch it with the help of caliper. Take the measurements and then look at the chart here – Body fat measurement chart for women and men.

Although calipers are very cheap, they show quite satisfactory results both in terms of accuracy and easiness.

By DEXA Scanning

DEXA Scanning is so far the most accurate method, as it gives you the readings by taking an X-ray of your total body composition. Unless you a pro-athlete plus you have lots of free cash to spend on knowing your fitness stats, you should not go for this test.

By using Body Fat scales and monitors

In this method, an electric current is passed through your body which further with the help of “Biometrical Impedance Analysis” shows you the numbers. This method can get quite inaccurate at times as the amount of water you are carrying can greatly affect the resultant numbers.

By BOD POD method

The BOD POD method is best suitable in terms of both practicality and accuracy but given that you have BOD POD centre close to you.

This method measures body mass or weight and volume with the help of a very precise scale. But much to your dismay, this method is also very costly.

So, which is the best method?

It largely depends on these three –

FIRST – You have LOTS of money.

Go for BOD POD method or DEXA scanning.

SECOND – You don’t have enough money.

You don’t have enough money means you have NO money.

THIRD – You have NO money.

Borrow a mirror from your friend, look in the mirror. Ask yourself – Do I look fit? If it’s a YES then there’s nothing to worry.

If it’s NO, stay tuned to MyFitFuel for next article on how to reduce body fat to show the abs beneath.


Tags : Body fatbody fat percentagebody fat stats
MFF Terminator

The author MFF Terminator

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Response