What does your body fat percentage say about your health?
Learn how to measure your body fat and track your progress the right way.
Stepping on the scale can be a daunting process and even an obsession for some of us. However, while scales don’t lie, they don’t tell the whole truth either. Scales don’t tell you if you have gained muscle, if you are holding water, and most importantly they don’t tell you about fat loss.
The most important part of starting any nutrition and exercise plan is to look at your overall body composition. Your body composition tells you how much of your body is made up of fat and how much of it is muscle. This gives a much better picture of your overall health, and might tell you that you’re in better shape than you think! For example, a poor diet and lack of calories can lead to weight loss. However, losing muscle and water will also contribute to this. A healthy and nutritious diet combined with an exercise plan will ensure that you are losing fat, rather than shrinking your hard earned muscle. Overall you will be fitter, healthier and feel much better in those jeans.
So, get off that sad scale and find out how to measure your body fat and to track your progress in the right way. While you’re at it, get your personal 8fit meal and workout plan to help you achieve your body goals.
How to measure your body fat:
- Visual estimation: You can compare yourself with diverse standard images showing different body fat percentages.
- High quality electronic scale: They’re not as reliable as other methods.
- DXA body scanner: It allows you to get a precise and detailed report of your body fat.
- Caliper: This is the most reliable way to measure your body fat. They’re inexpensive and more reliable than a scale.
Once you’ve measured your body fat, find your category in the following tables:
- Over 40% body fat: Overweight/obesity. This amount of body fat is associated with health risks such as diabetes, stroke, heart problems, etc.
- Over 20 % body fat: Mildly/moderately overweight. Some extra fat and no muscle definition visible.
- 15-19% body fat: Normal/healthy level within the average. Slight muscle definition (shoulders and upper arms) is visible. The abdominals are not yet clearly visible.
- 12-14% body fat: Fitness. Greater muscle definition on chest and back is clearly visible. Notable abs.
- 6-12% body fat: Athletic. Very clear muscle definition in arms, chest, legs and back. Abs clearly visible and defined. Both the face and jaw have clear angular shape. Some veins might be seen.
- 2-5% body fat: Essential body fat. Minimum amount of fat necessary for basic and physiological health. Extremely defined, very vascular.
Women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men. Women’s bodies produce more of the female hormone estrogen, which helps store fat. Women also need more fat for processes like child birth.
- Over 45% body fat: Overweight/obesity. This level of body fat is associated with health risks such as diabetes, stroke, heart problems, etc.
- Over 26% body fat: Mildly/moderately overweight. Some extra fat, no muscle definition visible
- 20-25% body fat: Normal level within the average. Slight muscle definition (shoulders and upper arms) is visible. The abdominals are not yet clearly visible.
- 17-19% body fat: Fitness. In shape. Great muscle definition is seen in arms and back. Abs begin to appear.
- 14-17% body fat: Athletic. Very defined. Very visible muscle definition in arms, chest, legs and back. Abs easily seen. Both the face and jaw have more shape.
- 10-13% body fat: Essential body fat. Minimum amount of fat necessary for basic and physiological health. Extremely defined, very vascular. Risks loss of menstrual cycle.
If you want to obtain and maintain a healthy body fat percentage, here are some overall tips that can help you get fit alongside the 8fit workouts and nutrition plan.
How to decrease your body fat percentage
Making the right food choices: Nutrition is 80% of results. Reducing your caloric consumption, while still looking after nutrition, is the best way to lose fat. To get the best results, eat a range of natural, unprocessed foods from a variety of sources. Eat protein-rich foods, good carbs, healthy fats and a variety of nutritious vegetables. Make sure that you are eating controlled portions relevant to your height, sex and size.
Although nutrition is the most important aspect of losing fat, exercise is essential to help you get fitter, stronger and to build and improve muscle tone. To do this, we advise strength training to help sculpt and tone your body.
Strength training: Weight-lifting or training using your own body weight are great ways to build muscle. Certain types of training, such as High Intensity Interval Training, give your body the ‘afterburn effect,’ continuing to burn calories up to 48 hours post-workout. In fact, muscle is magical at burning calories. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn throughout the day. So get moving and get strong! The 8fit meal and fitness plan can help you build muscle and burn calories.