Body Fat Percentage: How To Calculate Your BMI?

Nikhil Goswami

A single statistic can’t accurately represent the state of your health. There are greater measures of health and well-being, such as how you treat your body and mind.

However, we now live in a period when medical professionals need to employ data, statistics, and other quantifiable indicators to establish a universally accepted concept of wellness. For this reason, your doctor or other healthcare professional will likely record your body mass index (BMI) during checkups.

While body mass index and other metrics like body fat percentage might be informative, it’s crucial to remember that physical activity and mindful food selection are also major factors in determining one’s health.

This means that you shouldn’t only use your body mass index and fat percentage as the only measures of your weight and health.

What Is Your Body Fat Percentage? 

A person’s body fat percentage indicates how much fat is in their body. Since everyone’s body fat distribution is different, the World Health Organization recommends measuring body fat as the gold standard for evaluating whether an individual is overweight, obese, or at a healthy weight.

The body uses fat as an energy source to keep the metabolism running smoothly. Therefore, it’s necessary to have enough of it to maintain optimum health. There are two main fat categories in the human body, and it’s crucial to distinguish between them. There are essential fats and storage fats. The membranes surrounding and protecting your internal organs contain essential fats, including the nerves, brain, and bone marrow. Essential fat, made up of fatty acids, is vital to good health because it stores energy and protects vital organs.

The body stores fat in the areas surrounding the organs and under the skin. Storage fats prevent the body from becoming cold and function as an insulator.

Fat Percentage of the Body Weight

Consider your height when calculating your body mass index (BMI). As a rapid indicator of whether or not a person is underweight, normal, overweight, or obese, BMI may be used by health professionals. The formula for body mass index is the individual’s total body weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters. Unfortunately, the ideal body fat percentage is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The findings of studies attempting to correlate BMI to certain health problems have likewise been mixed. Even if they maintain a lean physique with plenty of muscle, some individuals will fall into the “overweight” or “obese” category due to their height and weight. Although their BMI may indicate health, some persons are truly overweight even though their BMI is normal. They may be overly obese and underweight due to a lack of muscle. Here is when measuring body fat percentage comes in handy.

Types of Body Fats

Essential body fat is necessary for appropriate bodily function. Storage fat protects your organs from trauma. Excess fat may be further subdivided into the following categories:

White Fat

The body stores white fat in the subcutaneous and visceral compartments to save energy when needed. The body responds by releasing hormones. The chance of developing diabetes, stroke, and other illnesses is linked to having a high quantity of white fat.

Beige Fat

The group of fat cells known as beige fat is novel and intriguing. You’ll find these beige fat cells by your collarbone and down your spine. Scientists are investigating their potential application in calorie-burning treatments for diabetes and obesity because they work.

Brown Fat

Brown fats are what we refer to as good fat. It aids in producing heat inside the body, which helps to counteract the effects of cold weather. It’s interesting to note that it’s present in great quantities in human babies and hibernating animals. Slim individuals often have higher quantities than overweight people. It may burn calories when activated.

Subcutaneous Fat

Subcutaneous fat is the layer of fat closest to the skin. It might be beneficial in warding off illness, but wearing it high on the abdomen could be harmful.

Abdominal Fat

That fat deep inside your abdominal cavity, or visceral fat, is dangerous. It’s harmful because it raises insulin resistance, and according to some research, it may also be connected to cognitive decline.

Male Body Mass Index Chart

Concerning one’s health, what exactly does one’s body fat % indicate?

Body fat percentages vary from being very obese to being extremely lean for men and women. This is because estrogen levels are naturally higher in women and thus need a higher percentage of body fat to carry out reproductive functions.

40% Or More: Over 40 percent of body fat indicates obesity. An increased risk of developing conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other metabolic syndrome symptoms, is related to this level of body fat.

20% Or More: A body fat percentage above 20% means you are slightly overweight, which means you have some additional fat and no muscular definition.

Between 15% and 19%: Fat percentages between 15% to 19% are within the normal range for good health. Some muscular definition is seen, especially in the upper arms and shoulders, and there is still a lack of definition in the stomach area.

Between 12% and 14%: A healthy body fat percentage of 12-14% is considered fit. You can see a marked improvement in muscle definition over the chest and back. Impressive abs.

Between 6% and 12%: There is a lot of muscular definition in the arms, chest, legs, and back, and those abs stand out like a sore thumb. The face and jaw are quite angular, and it’s possible to see certain veins.

Between 2% and 5%: A minimum 2-5% fat percentage means strictly necessary fat, indicating that you have sufficient fat for fundamental and physiological health. This lower body fat percentage means you are super lean and vascular.

Female Body Fat Guidelines

As we’ve already established, females tend to be more overweight than males. Estrogen, a female hormone, has a greater role in fat storage in women’s bodies. Furthermore, women need additional fat for physiological functions such as childbirth. Hence, women’s average body fat percentage is higher than males’.

45% Or More: Over 45 percent of body fat indicates obesity. This body fat can lead to several health issues, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, etc.

25% Or More: A body fat percentage above 25% means you are slightly overweight. Your body will likely have a lack of muscular definition and some excess fat.

Between 20% and 25%: A body fat percentage of 20-25% is the normal weight for women. You can notice some muscular definitions, and there is still a lack of definition in the stomach area.

Between 17% and 19%: Women with a body fat percentage between 17 and 19 percent are fit. They are physically fit, and they have toned arms and backs. Some women may have some abs too.

Between 14% and 17%: 14-17% body fat means you’re physically fit and clearly defined. You would have highly defined arms, chest, legs, and back muscles.

Between 10% and 13%: For women, 10%-13% is the minimum for survival. This means they have sufficient fat for fundamental and physiological health and are lean and vascular.

A Guide to Calculate Body Fat Percentage 

You can take measurements of body fat percentage in a variety of methods. You may take many measurements to picture your body shape accurately. Comparing yourself to various standard photographs depicting varying body fat percentages will give you an approximate sense of your body fat composition. You can assess body composition by visually comparing your estimated body fat to the overall body composition. Alternatively, you can try the following methods. However, remember that the Body fat percentage ranges for men and women are not the same.


Calipers are a common tool for doing body composition analysis. They are tiny, clamp-like instruments that you may use to determine the amount of subcutaneous fat present. It achieves this by measuring various skinfolds on various parts of your body, including your armpit and stomach. These help determine a rough body fat percentage.

Due to their accessibility and low price, calipers have widespread usage. The problem is that their accuracy lags behind that of other approaches. Alternatively, a caliper is a simple and inexpensive tool for determining your body fat percentage. Others hold the opinion that they are more accurate than a scale and they are cheap.

Underwater Weight

To measure body fat underwater, lean tissue would sink, and fat would float. The fat mass you carry may be roughly calculated from your underwater weight. Weighing anything underwater is fairly precise, but it may be time-consuming and expensive. To do so, one needs specialized equipment.

Air Displacement Plethysmography

The Bod Pod is a device that can calculate your body fat percentage by analyzing the volume of air you take up. The Bod Pod is a reliable weight measurement method, much like the practice of weighing yourself while submerged in water. Both the time and money involved and the specific equipment required may add up. Since the Bod Pod does not need the user to enter the water, it is more convenient than underwater weighing, and the Bod Pod is also quicker.


Low-dose x-rays are used in a process called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) to provide information on your body composition, including fat, muscle, and bone percentage. This examination will only take a little time and considers skeletal structure when evaluating fat to muscle ratio.

Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis

Bioelectrical impedance measures how quickly an electrical current can go through your body. It’s a cheap alternative to other methods of determining fat percentage. It’s easier for humans to use than calipers. However, its reliability is affected by various factors, such as how recently a person has exercised and how much food or drink they’ve consumed. A bioelectrical impedance scale is one option for those who want to monitor their body fat at home. Remember that these measurements are not always precise. They may be more useful for tracking trends in your body fat than for providing accurate measurements.

Methods for Reducing Overall Fat Percentage

Now that we’ve established the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise in achieving and maintaining a low body fat percentage, we’ll provide some suggestions that, combined with a suitable program, should be fruitful in this regard.

Making Healthy Food Choices

80 % of success is due to a healthy diet. The most effective weight-loss strategy is reducing calorie intake while maintaining nutritional standards. Consume a broad range of whole, unprocessed foods for optimal health. Consume an abundance of nutritious veggies, lean proteins, decent carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Frequent Exercise

Although diet is the primary factor in fat loss, working out is essential for improving fitness, strength, and muscle tone. You may achieve this goal by doing bodyweight routines thrice each week. High-intensity interval training is one method that causes this afterburn effect when the body still burns calories for up to 48 hours after a workout.

Start with beginner-friendly exercises like walking, running, cycling, or yoga on non-HIIT days.

Boost Your Strength-Training

Start doing weight training once a week in addition to regular exercise. This can improve your strength and muscle tone. Since muscle training is so great at burning calories, this leads to even more body fat burning. Muscle training increases resting metabolic rate, which means you may burn more calories at rest and throughout the day.

Wrap Up

The relationship between health and weight is complex. Pay attention to developing good routines, such as regular exercise and a nutritious diet. Consult a trained dietitian or an exercise physiologist for advice on improving your nutrition and physical fitness. Discuss your intentions and goals with your doctor regarding your health. You can also take weight loss pills if you are in your weight loss phase.

You may evaluate your weight and shape by taking your body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage (BFP). Although they may serve as a starting point to gauge progress, they should not be the primary focus of any efforts to enhance health. To improve your health, taking care of your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being is essential.

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