Just what the hell is body fat percentage?
What kind of body fat goal should I aim to achieve?
How do I find out how much body fat I have?
Almost one of the most difficult to delve into subjects is body fat. It’s hard to figure out, tough to keep progress of and it’s often guesstimated.
In the wise words of Kanye! “that right there could drive a sane man berserk.” – Through the wire.
What’s the difference between you and another average person? You came here. That means you’ll get all the info necessary to get your abs out in the most efficient way, getting you that much closer to that perfect beach body. Lucky you!
Seeing as this topic can totally bore the normal person half to death, within the completion of reading this article you’d have burned roughly 100 calories sitting on your butt!
So What The Hell Is Body Fat Percentage?
Simply, this percentage is the amount of fat that your body holds in comparison to ‘all the other stuff’. ‘The other stuff’ includes muscles, bones, tendons, water, organs etc.
It doesn’t take much to understand that men and women hold different stores of body fat, duh, that’s why we look different and function differently. Where you see that guy model in a magazine with mega-torn abs and chest, you can bet that guy is awesome… and at about 3% or 4% body fat. On the other hand, a woman in similar shape would still be awesome but, could only get to about 8% or 9% body fat. Furthermore, a male athlete in great form could be about 10% where a woman with a similar level of ability and portrayal may be closer to 16% body fat.
Sorry ladies, you’re still amazing but, it’s just down to genetics and DNA, got to avoid those sexism cases now.
As Sure As You Want Rid Of It, You Are Going To Want It Back!
Your body fat provides a protective barrier for your internal organs, whilst providing necessary energy storage for those critical moments. For example during an adrenaline rush!
The term “essential fat” indicates the lowest amount of fat needed to survive. Having less than the minimal amount of ‘essential fat’ is not good. This can lead to catastrophic results such as organ failure. Even coming close to this level of body fat is significantly dangerous, this is obviously not healthy.
You will often find that bodybuilders dramatically reduce their body fat percentage around competition times. However, they too, don’t go lower than the minimum body fat level/essential fat level. During the less competitive times, bodybuilders increase their body fat levels to function normally and maintain a good level of health. It is impossible, even for bodybuilders, whom could be considered ‘trained’ in reduced their body fat, are unable to maintain their body fat percentage at 4-6% all the time, nor would they want to either. I guess we have given the bodybuilders perspective here because its the best example of what we can give for people to understand, however this equally applies to women.
For those women seeking to look defined and athletic, you’ll need to maintain your body fat percentage within the ‘under fat’ category below. When you’re in need of that healthy but, ‘aesthetically pleasing on the eye’ look, the ‘under fat’ will provide what your seeking. If you reach the lower end of ‘Standard Minus’, a reduction of body fat would benefit your looks and your health.
So, How Do You Figure Out What’s A Suitable Target For You?
Set your target for about 10 – 14% body fat. Keep in mind that strength and athletic performance will be decremented at this level of percentage. It’s your goals that will change your body fat target. Remember that!
For a sleek looking six pack, reduce your body fat percentage to between 15 – 17%.
For the athlete looking to improve performance, set your goal for around 20%.
For those interested more in feeling good and looking good, going less than 20-23% will get all your friends and family noticing just how good your looking!
Women! If your thinking about having a baby in the short term, studies advice not to go any lower than 15% body fat. Remember, you need the fat to protect the baby, that’s why women have more fat than men right?
Wow! You’re still here? Well that’s at least 50 calories burned! Go you!
Small piece of info to mention: body fat percentage refers to the amount of fat you have. It does not include your muscle mass. This small fact can mean a big difference when you’re the same body fat percentage as your friend but, she looks much stronger and defined. This is a clear sign… your muscles need to level up…
Let’s Do The Numbers. How Do I Measure Body Fat Percentage?
First of all, the cheapest and easiest method – Take a picture of yourself at your current stage, yes right now! Not tomorrow or on Monday. Now. About every two months, take another picture in the exact same position. This method may require an accurate eye and patience but it is the simplest and cheapest!
Secondly – body fat calipers! These can be bought for a mere $5 to get a good pinch of your fat and take the measurements accordingly. By looking at a measurements chart below you can determine your body fat percentage and begin setting your goals.
Thirdly – the Bod Pod! This method uses air displacement to measure and calculate your level of body mass, density and volume. Though precise, its price can often be off-putting at an average of $75 a session.
Critical Information: When you begin testing your body fat percentage, make sure you test yourself under the same circumstances every time! The best way would be to test yourself weekly on the same day such as a Monday morning upon waking up on an empty stomach. Should the results be incorrect, the progression and changes to your percentage will become clear.
Can’t You Just Give Us The Best Method!?
Well, so long as you have the finances, utilizing a Bod Pod will provide the best results so long as you can get to a Bod Pod center close to home.
Should money not be plentiful, the fat calipers alongside the snapping regular pictures of yourself will provide the best way your $$ can buy!
Here’s the catch 22 with body fat percentage: fun to see and know but, the cold hard truth is that with any and every method of measuring body fat, they can all often be inaccurate. Even when taking a number of tests, the percentage can still be off by about 2-3%.
Fear not! This is more important! Take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror. Do you like what you see? If yes, then that brilliant! But, for those not yet satisfied, read on…
But I Already Measure BMI (Body Mass Index), What’s The Difference?
Doctors are more known to use the inaccurate BMI. Body Mass Index takes into consideration your weight and height then, based on the difference between the two, it informs you as to whether you are underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.
Simple enough? Or is it?
BMI is too simple. Taking on the factors of height and weight, it has no means of measuring your body composition. To prove it’s inconsistent with reality: 80kg of muscle would receive the same reading as 80kg of a bag of chips…
Though, on the contrary, should you be above 30% body fat, both a BMI reading and your body fat percentage would hint to weight loss. If you hadn’t noticed without the readings. No sooner than you get serious about your weight and training, BMI completely dies out.
We hope that we may have answers some questions that you had about body fat percentage and how you can go about measuring and reducing it to the levels that you desire.