Body Fat Calculator

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Before using the data obtained using this calculator, please consult with doctor.

Body Fat Percentage: All you need to know

 

Your body fat percentage (BFP) is a very important aspect to know when you’re evaluating your health. BFP essentially divides your weight into; fat mass and everything else. For instance, if your weight is at 120 pounds and you’ve 12 pounds of fat, then your body fat percentage is 10 percent {(12/120) x100}. This, therefore, means that BFP is a moving target, relative to your weight. So when you gain or lose muscle/fat, your BFP changes. 

 

If you changed your diet and increased your weight from 120 pounds to 160 pounds with just 2 pounds of extra fat gain, then your new BFP would be about 9 percent {(14/160) x 100}. Generally, your BFP shifts as your body composition changes. 

 

Now, our bodies need fat to protect our joints and organs and keep us warm. However, it’s unhealthy to have too little or too much fat. If your BFP is too low, your energy levels and resistance to diseases are lower, which puts you at risk of various health issues. On the flip side, if your BFP is too high, chances of developing diabetes and other health complications become high. 

 

It’s therefore critical to evaluate your BFP and maintain your body weight in a healthy range. 

Calorie Calculator

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Body Fat Percentage (BFP) Vs Body Mass Index (BMI)

 

Many people tend to mix up BFP and BMI, but they are totally different. Body mass index is basically a numeric expression of your height in relation to your weight. BMI is calculated by dividing the body weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. 

For instance, if you weigh 82 kilograms and measure up to 1.85 meters in height, your BMI would be 24.1 (82.0/3.4). Look at the BMI chart above for the relationship between BMI values and body weight status.

BMI is often used to analyze large populations and not so useful when it comes to individual fitness assessment. For this purpose, BFP is much more accurate. And no, you cannot derive your BFP from the BMI. As you’ve just seen, BMI is exclusively based on your weight and height, and it doesn’t separate that weight into muscle and fat. 

Your BMI can be high or low for very different reasons. For instance, the BMI can be high due to a high percentage of muscle mass with low body fat or a low amount of muscle mass but with a high body fat percentage. So BMI cannot tell you the percentage of fat in your body and hence can’t replace or be used to determine the BFP. 

What is the ideal body fat percentage?

 

Body fat is not entirely your enemy –so don’t just think of it as a layer of greasy, ugly, unwanted flesh. Body fat plays important roles like protecting your body organs from damage, producing hormones, maintaining body temperature and much more. For this reason, growing lean has some limits, beyond which health issues will start kicking in. 

 

Studies show that the absolute leanest body a man can attain is about 4 to 5 percent body fat, while the leanest woman can attain 10 to 12 percent body fat. The additional fat mass that women carry in their hips, thighs, butt, and breasts is what accounts for their higher level of body fat ranges (1, 2, 3). 

 

Our bodies carry two kinds of body fat: the essential fat and “storage” fat. Essential fat is stored in relatively small amounts in organs, bone marrow, muscles, and the central nervous system. This type of fat is needed for healthy, normal functioning of your body organs. Storage fat, on the other hand, is stocked for energy, and this is usually the one that people are trying to lose. 

 

When you get absolutely lean, all that will remain is the essential body fat which is required for you to stay alive. If you get this lean, you need to understand that you’re putting your life on the line; your heart might stop or you might end up in a coma. The body will try to protect itself against such incidences by breaking down muscle tissue as well as internal organs to generate energy in the absence of body fat. 

 

So unless you’re trying to be a competitive bodybuilder and absolutely understand whatever you’re doing, don’t try to move closer to the absolute lean ranges. Your organs could easily fail, your hormones disrupted and getting back to the normal BFP will be a bumpy trip. 

Fortunately, chances are you’re like most people and wouldn’t want to get too lean. You probably want to maintain a near-athletic BFP range of 7 to 10 percent for men & 13 to 20 percent for women –this is what is popularly considered “shredded” or “ripped”. Top level sports athletes usually have a BFP of 5 to 10 percent while female range between 11 and 20 percent (4, 5). 
It’s easy for anyone to attain this through proper exercise and dieting, but maintaining it for long periods of time is an uphill task for most people. If you want to attain and maintain an athletic lean look, you will have to subscribe to strict calorie intake coupled with a regular and rigorous exercise routine. 

How to calculate your body fat percentage?

 

There’re numerous ways of measuring body fat –some accurate, some otherwise. The most accurate methods include Hydrostatic weighing technique and other high-tech equipment, but these are often too expensive for an average weight-watcher. Other methods include using scales and hand-held devices –not as accurate though.

 

Perhaps the most accessible, accurate and easiest method is the caliper method, which we will stick to. 

Using Body Fat Calipers

 

This method is easy to learn and use –it essentially focuses on using fat calipers to measure skin thickness are various points on the body. The measurements are then fed into a body fat calculator or formula to ultimately get body fat percentage. It can be quite tricky to pinch yourself while reading the caliper simultaneously. So you might need the help of a pro or at least a friend. 

Depending on the specific a body fat calculator or formula, you will be required to take measurements at different body sites. Most BFP calculating tools require that you take the measurement of your abdomen, neck, waist, and hips (for ladies only). You may also be required to fill in your weight, height, age, and gender. 

 

Each tool is designed upon a complex mathematical formula, which takes these measurements and subjects them to a constant. You really don’t have to worry about the formulas, the most important thing is consistency. Simply choose a tool, give it a test and stick to it. 

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