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What is a healthy body fat percentage?

6 min read

Whether you’re a certified health buff or just starting to join the bandwagon of living a healthy lifestyle, you need to know about your body fat percentage. Knowledge of healthy body fat percentage is essential to your wellness journey and weight loss.

This is the first thing you need to know if you aim to lose weight. Knowing your body fat percentage can help you plan your workouts and your ideal diets.

First things first, let’s have a glimpse of your body fats’ basic info and whatnots. Your body fat isn’t your mortal enemy. It’s the excess of those fats. Body fat is composed of essential body fat and storage body fat.

The essential body fat is the one that you need as they help maintain life’s basic functions. On the other hand, storage fat is your body fat that grows in adipose tissue – dermis, vital organs, and abdominal cavity.

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There’s an ideal percentage for your stored fat. Too much of them can give your adverse body effects that can lead to severe health conditions.

What you need to watch for is your excess body fat, your true enemy. They are the main culprit to the conditions of being overweight that can eventually lead to obesity. If you are obese, other health conditions might surface as the effect of the unhealthy excess fats that accumulate on your body.

Although not all overweight people have health risks, body composition consists of muscles, bone density, body fat, and water contents. Take, for example, muscular people. They are often overweight due to the weight of their body mass compared to just a lean person.

What should my body fat percentage be?

What should my body fat percentage be?

Knowing your body fat percentage is the first step to achieve your health and fitness goals. Keep in mind that men and women differ in ranges of a healthy body fat percentage. The healthy range of body fat for men is typically defined as 8-19%, while the healthy range for women is 21-33%.

There are different methods of measuring body fat. Below are some of the popular techniques used in measuring body fat percentage.

Hydrostatic weighing

Coming from the word itself, this is an underwater weighing process. It can give you the most accurate result as this measures the amount of your body fat based on your buoyancy in water. You will be submerged in water as you sit on a scale.

Body Fat Calipers

Caliper is the primary device used to measure your fat or skinfold thickness at specific body locations. Skinfold measurements will be taken on 3 to 7 different areas of your body. The result will then be calculated using a formula to get the total body fat percentage.

The Bod Pod

Quite similar to Hydrostatic weighing, but this time, the air is used in measuring your body composition instead of water. This computerized pod measures your body’s density – weight, and volume to get your body fat percentage. NFL players and military people rely on this method.

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Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis

This one is pretty unique as electric currents are used to measure your body fat. It’s a safe procedure done by a professional. Your body fat is calculated depending on your body’s reaction to the currents that travel in your body.

Body Circumference Measurements

Body Circumference Measurements

This is a traditional way of calculating body fat percentage by getting circumference measurements, age, and height. You add your waist and hip measurements, then subtract neck measurements to get the circumferential value.

Another known method is getting your BMI (body mass index). For women’s percentage, the numerics will be divided by age range. At the same time, some women will need to use a different formula depending on their category.

For example, if you’re an athlete, you have a different mass index to be used in the formula instead of your age. Check the table below by Jackson and Pollard to know what should be your body fat percentage.

Ideal Body Fat Percentage by Age








Men are generally known to be muscular as they do the heavier types of work. That makes their body masses leaner than that of the women. The reproduction process for women is a significant factor that adds up to their body fat percentages.

Unless the women are athletes, add .that men have lower body fat making the percentage computation on different ranges. The table below shows the healthy body fat percentage for men, depending on their ages.

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Ideal Body Fat Percentage by Age for Men

Ideal Body Fat Percentage by Age for Men








To better assess what diet and workout plan best suits you, calculate your body fat percentage first. After all, your body still needs the essential fats. You don’t want to burn them all as it might cause severe complications in the future. Consult your professional trainer or doctor if you’re unsure how to get your ideal body fat percentage.

Is 20% body fat too much?

Is 20% body fat too much?

The correct body fat percentage varies depending on a person’s physique, lifestyle, and personal outlook or health goals. A 20% body fat can be healthy enough for some but not for those aiming for less and want those six-packs showing up. Scroll down to learn if 20% is suitable for you or it could be more or less.

30% Body fat

For the health buffs and gym-goers, anything above 25% makes you a candidate for obesity. You are at risk of cardiovascular conditions and other heart diseases. Six-pack abs are also at zero possibility. Verdict: Too much

25% Body Fat

At this point, you have excess fat and weight but not dangerous enough to contribute to any health implications in the future. Consider the muscle mass underneath those fats, too, as they contribute to the weight—verdict: Body fat not too much but not safe enough.

20% Body Fat

At this rate, you are in the middle of being skinny and being fat- average. You’ll still look softer, but it’s easier to improve if you’re aiming for a cleaner look. So yes, this percentage is healthy enough to save you from fat and cholesterol-linked diseases. Verdict: Enough, but there’s still room for improvement if you want leaner features.

15% Body Fat

If you’re at this point, you can see defined muscle shapes. In short, you’re lean. Your arms and shoulders aren’t soggy. Say hello to your six-pack abs soon. Verdict: Enough.

10% Body Fat

You’re lean enough to have those six-pack abs showing. This is already a dream for gym-goers. Verdict: Enough but might be too much for those who want a healthy body and not lean muscles.

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Key Takeaway

Whether you’re aiming to have that much-coveted six-pack ab or just looking after your health, you need to know your healthy body fat percentage. Keep in mind that a regular weighing scale cannot give you your BMIs to help you calculate your body fat percentage. You need to use methods or even seek a health professional’s help.

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