Body fat % Why do I care?

So what is body fat %, why do we need to know it and how do we calculate it.

Well your body fat % is exactly what it says on the tin, it is the measurement that tells us the % of your body mass that is made up of fat.  The rest of your body will be made up of water, muscle, bones and organs. Now the body fat % is great way for measuring health rather than just your weight. For example a large heavy person who is made up of lean muscle may be heavy for their height but have a low body fat %. A smaller lighter person may have a higher body fat %. This is were traditional BMI methods fall foul as the measure your weight against you height and age.

Having higher body fat % can lead to high blood pressure, higher cholesterol and in some cases can lead to heart disease.

So whats a healthy body fat%?

Well it differs for men and women. The table below shows what your ideal range is for body fat % based on you age and gender.

WOMEN MEN
Obese: > 31% Obese: > 25%
Acceptable: 25-31% Acceptable: 18-25%
Fit: 21-24% Fit: 14-17%
Athletic: 14-20% Athletic: 6-13%
Essential fat levels: < 13% Essential fat levels: < 2-5%

There are several ways to measure your body fat % I will explain them here.

  1. Electronic Scales – You can purchase electronic scales that have you hold a handle out in front of you with your arms straight. These send an electrical current through your body and based on resistance estimates your body fat %. I have found these extremely inaccurate and wouldn’t recommend buying one.
  2. BodPod – The most accurate way to measure your bodyfat % is to use a BodPod. To read how exactly how these work look here. To use one you will need to pay anything in the region of £50-100. But if you have access to one and are happy to pay they are well worth it.
  3. Calipers – This is the method I use, you can pick up calipers for about £5 and use a website to calculate your measurements. There are different methods to this but the methods that take more readings will be more accurate. A good site that will guide you through this is here

Currently I way 78kg now I bulked to get here from 72kg, I am now currently at the time of writing this 18.4% body fat. If you look on the chart above thats quite a high reading right. So now I am cutting to increase fat loss, but I am trying to stay the same weight as much as possible. I want to put on lean muscle mass to replace the fat. A great way to measure this progress is to measure my body fat % if it reduces but my weight doesn’t I know its working.

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