Body Fat Calculator
For anyone, knowing how much body fat they have when dieting can be really useful information in the setting of goals and tracking progress. However, calculating body fat percentage is somewhat more difficult than just simply measuring body weight. So, use our calculator to find out how much body fat you have. Our calculator is based on peer-reviewed studies and, although an estimation, it provides a good indication of what your body fat percentage is.
A Quick Guide To Understanding Body Fat
What is body fat and why is it important?
There is a common misconception that all body fat is bad but in fact, fat serves a number of important functions in the body. The scientific name for body fat is ‘adipose tissue’. Its primary function is to store lipids from food, which the body can then use to create energy; adipose tissue is also required to secrete a number of essential hormones.
There are three different types of body fat:
Essential body fat
Needed to protect the body from diseases and physically protect organs from bruising damage.
Reserve body fat
Additional fat that presents no risk to health but rather provides a store of fuel for the body to use when needed.
Excess body fat
Body fat in excess of essential and reserve body fat, which can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
Why is having excess body fat a bad thing?
Excess body fat introduces the risk of generating serious health issues. Some of the most common health problems are seen in people who are overweight or obese, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2diabetes.
Excess fat carried around the abdomen (abdominal fat) is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, which has the potential to clog arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Excess abdominal fat is also dangerous because it is closely located to the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by body fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can impede its function. Abdominal fat can, however, be easily reduced through healthy diet and regular exercise.
Is there such thing as having too little body fat?
Having some body fat is not only desirable for good health, it is actually essential, and in having too low a level of body fat this can also pose a risk to health. In the IIFYM community, there is a worrying trend to reduce body fat to an extremely low percentage so that the skin is void of fat and muscle striation is visible; this is very unhealthy and unsustainable. Males should have a minimum of 5% body fat, and women 13%, to ensure the body is functioning properly.
What is body fat percentage?
Body fat percentage is simply the proportion of total body weight that is comprised of fat tissue.
A 155-pound female who has a body fat percentage of 30% would have 46.5 pounds of fat tissue, with the remaining 108.5 pounds of body weight being drawn from muscle, bone, nervous, skin, and other tissues.
Body fat percentage usually relates to fitness level and can be a better indicator of health than BMI.
What is a good percentage of body fat to have?
Although not true in all cases, women generally have a higher body fat percentage than men. This is perfectly normal and healthy, and is due to childbearing reasons. The table below shows the healthy ranges of body fat for both women and men.
How can I measure body fat?
Specific techniques must be used to measure body fat. The U.S. Navy have established a useful and straightforward method, which takes into account the differences in body fat accumulation between men and women:
- Measure the circumference of the waist at a horizontal level around the navel for men, and at the level with the least width for women.
- Measure the circumference of the neck, start below the larynx with the tape sloping lightly downward to the front.
- For women only: measure the circumference of the hips, at the largest horizontal measure.
- Insert the measurements into the My Diet Meal Plan calculator for the result.
This method is a guide, and more accurate body fat calculations can be made using callipers and DEXA scans.
How can I lose body fat?
Online, there are thousands of proposals claiming to help control or reduce body fat. The fact is, that complicated and potentially unhealthy gimmicks aren’t needed; good old-fashioned changes to diet, and the introduction of an appropriate level of exercise is all that is necessary.
To lose body fat and keep it off, this will entail long-term lifestyle changes and discipline. Find an exercise programme, one that can be worked at regularly and gradually reduce calorie intake.
Limit the amount of carbohydrates consumed, especially potatoes, rice, pasta and bread because these will provide the body with more energy than it needs and will be stored as fat. Definitely do not cut out carbohydrates, it is crucially important to consume plenty of fruit and vegetables. Also cut back on refined sugar; excess sugar will be also be stored as fat. Sweets and soda can be replaced with fresh fruit and fruit juices.
Intensive exercise for short periods is the best way to burn fat. This can be running on the treadmill, or rowing, or working out with weights. Isolated exercises such as sit-ups may have no effect at all unless incorporated within an intense workout.
Simply change diet and exercise to successfully reduce body fat and feel better.
Why is it helpful to track body fat percentage?
Measuring and tracking body fat percentage is useful for a number of reasons.
- Knowing your body fat percentage is important when formulating accurate total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
- If you are flexible dieting, you likely aim is to decrease fat mass and increase muscle mass; therefore tracking body fat percentage is an ideal way to keep track on progress.
- Knowing your body fat percentage will help you establish a realistic and healthy goal weight.