Ideal Body Fat Percentages for men and women

No matter what your health and weight loss goals may be, body fat percentage is something that you need to be aware of.

Excessive body fat not only impacts the way you look and feel, but it also has a negative impact on your physical abilities, including exercising and performing average, everyday tasks.

Whether you are looking to lose weight and improve your overall health, or you want to boost your athletic performance, understanding body fat percentages – and the ideal percentage for you – is paramount to your success.

What is Body Fat?

To gain a real understanding of body fat percentage, first you need to have a firm understanding of what body fat really is.

In the simplest terms, body fat refers to the excess fat that your body stores; in other words, it is energy that is stored that the body has not yet used.

When you consume food, your body transfers the calories into the energy that is needed to perform day to day functions.


When you consume more calories than the body needs, those calories are stored in the form of fat. The goal of this storage is to use the extra calories that you have consumed when your body needs it. Essentially, body fat is energy that your body stores for later use.

There are two classifications of body fat: Essential and nonessential.

Essential body fat is needed by the body to perform its functions properly. It helps to regulate body temperature and cushions internal organs, for example. Nonessential body fat is not needed by the body.

What is Body Fat Percentage?

Body fat percentage refers to the total fat mass divided by the total body mass.

It calculates how much of your total body weight is fat tissue.

Your weight alone does not clearly indicate whether or not you are in good health because it does not distinguish between the pounds that come from lean body mass – your bones, your muscles and even your hair – from the pounds that come from actual fat.

If you are carrying too much body fat, not only will it impact your overall weight, but it will also impact your overall health, as mentioned above, your overall ability to perform certain physical tasks. Therefore, if you want to really determine whether or not you are meeting your fitness goals, it is important to have a firm understanding of your body fat percentage.

Healthy Body Fat Percentages

While there is some debate regarding what is deemed “healthy” body fat, the below table from the American Council on Exercise indicates the ideal body fat percentage for both men and women in general, as well as those who are athletes.


Body type Men Women
Essential Fat 2% to 5% 10% to 13%
Athletes 6% to 13% 41% to 20%
Fitness 14% to 17% 21% to 24%
Average 18% to 24% 25% to 31%
Obese 25% or more 32% or more


As this chart indicates, women have a higher body fat percentage in relation to men on all levels.

The reason for this is because of physiological differences between men and women. Women require more fat for childbearing, and their body tissue, sexual organs and hormones also impact their overall fat levels.

Body fat mass varies significantly from person to person, in regard to the absolute amount. Fat mass is comprised of 20% water and 80% adipose tissue (loose, connective tissue in the body that stores energy in the form of fat.)

Why Measuring Body Fat is Important

Stepping on a scale will provide you with an overall number that will indicate your weight; however, that number will not reflect your actual body fat percentage.

While you may have lost body fat and gained lean muscle mass, a traditional scale will not illustrate the amount of fat you have lost and the muscle mass you have gained.


For this reason, it is difficult to determine whether or not you are meeting your fitness goals with a traditional scale alone.

To accurately determine the total amount of fat you are carrying, keeping track of your body fat percentage is essential.

Keeping track of your body fat percentage is simple. With a specialized body fat scale, you can easily keep tabs on your body fat and determine whether or not you are achieving your achieving your fitness goals.

We reviewed most of them, have a look at the Philips smart body if you are looking for something reliable at a reasonable price.

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