A persons body fat is the total mass of fat divided by the total body mass. When calculated the percentage shown will give you a good indicator of where you fall fitness and health wise. This accounts for essential fats (we will always have a percentage of fat that our bodies require) and storage fats.
There are generally 5 categories that your BF% will fall under: essential fat, athlete, fitness, average, and obese.
The percentage that lies in each category will differ for males and females. In each category the female percentages will be higher. This is due to hormone differences needed for their bodily functions and childbearing.
Instead of relying on the number on the scale to determine your health/fitness level or fitness goals concentrate more on your body fat percentage. There is no ideal BF%. It all really depends on each individuals goals. However, wherever you fall on the chart it is obvious that you do not want to end up on the “obese” end. You don’t have to be 200+ pounds to be obese. Simply having a higher body fat percentage can categorize you as “obese” and lead to many health problems. A person can weigh 100 pounds and still be “obese.”
Body fat can be measured in several ways: skin calipers (most common, accessible, and used), hydrostatic weighing, bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA), air displacement plethysmography, and duel energy x-ray absorptiometry.
The following is a general chart for both male and female body fat percentages.
When starting any fitness regimen it is more important to lower your body fat percentage versus the number on the scale. Two different females could both weigh 115 pounds but one could have 20% body fat and the other 35%. This would cause them to not only look different but be on a different level health wise as well.
A professional will be able to help you measure your body fat percentage as well assist you in your fitness and health goals.
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