Trying to lose weight without understanding the concept of body fat percentage puts you at a disadvantage. You may have heard the term “percentage body fat” now and again in various diet books, on TV, or from exercise gurus. Understanding this important measure of your health is a key step toward mastering your weight so that you can look and feel your best.
If you have ever been asked, “What does your percent body fat mean” but you were at a loss for an answer, here are 5 fact you should know:
1. Your body fat is a better indicator of your health than are other methods such as BMI
If you are weight conscious, you have probably considered a number of different ways to measure your health from a weight perspective. One popular method is the Body Mass Index, or BMI. While the BMI is a great guide for a large portion of the population, as a unit of measure it unfortunately has some important flaws. For example, if you are a particularly muscular person with very little body fat, your BMI could indicate that you are overweight or obese when in fact you are perfectly healthy. Similarly, people who have a very low BMI might believe they are healthy when in fact they carry too much fat on their body.
A better way to measure your health is to measure your percent body fat. As the term indicates, this is simply a measure of the percentage of your weight that is made up of fat. This is a much more accurate and telling way to determine your health in terms of your body composition.
2. A high body fat percentage can put you at risk for many serious diseases
Being too high in body fat can have a number of serious ramifications for your health. A high body fat percentage can contribute to your having a higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, stroke, and Type II diabetes. Of course, it also usually means that you are not as attractive as you might want to me in terms of having a tone, fit, and healthy-looking body.
3. There are several ways to measure body fat
The cheapest and easiest way to measure body fat is through the use of calipers – a simple metal tool that lightly pinches your skin to determine how much fat is on your body. Other, more accurate (and more costly) ways include underwater weighing, a Bod Pod, and bioelectrical impedance.
4. Healthy range for men is 8-19% for ages 20-39
For men, the healthy body fat range is 8-19% for those between the ages of 20 and 39. Men who are older can have still be healthy but with a slightly higher body fat range. Specifically: for men ages 40-59 the acceptable range is 11-21%, while for men ages 60-79 the healthy range is 13-24%.
5. Healthy range for women is 21-32% for ages 20-39
If you are a woman ages 20-39, the healthy range is 21-32%. Meanwhile, women who are older (as is the case with men), have a healthy range of 23-33% (for ages 40-59). The healthy range for women aged 60-79 is 24-35%.
Now that you know more about the negative effects of high body fat and what constitutes a healthy body fat range, you are better equipped to find out your current body fat percentage and to get help in getting to a healthy level.