Of course you all are tired of hearing me say don’t focus on the scale.
But the fact is, bodyweight is only a very small indicator of progress. It does not take into account body composition, health, etc.
This is why I encourage clients to take measurements, photos and have their body fat measured.
Body Fat vs BMI
Oftentimes body fat percentage is confused with BMI. Your “BMI” is a number that takes into account only your height to weight ratio. It is generally not a good indicator of health or fitness because it doesn’t take into account body composition. For example a short person with a lot of muscle may weigh more and have a BMI that says they are obese, when in fact they are very fit.
Body fat percentage on the other hand takes into account how much of your overall body weight is fat, and how much is lean mass including muscle, bones, organs, etc.
This is a much better indicator of your current fitness and health level. Measuring body fat is also a great way to determine your progress. Losing ten pounds is great but if your body fat doesn’t change, you aren’t really making progress. We need to think in terms of fat loss, not weight loss
Healthy Body Fat Percentage
So what should your body fat percentage be? That depends on your overall goals, how you want to look, if you just want to be healthy versus do a fitness competition.
Men and women both need body fat for optimal health, but how much is very different between the sexes. For women, usually anything below 10% is considered dangerous to overall health. For men that number is 2%. Lucky guys. (Women need more body fat because of our reproductive capabilities.)
For most women, a healthy body fat range is anything from 13% to 30%. Under 20% is considered “athlete.” These women are working out extremely hard and pretty diligent about diet. That level of body fat takes conscious effort to maintain.
For a women who wants to look and feel good, and be healthy, 20% is great. Anything up to 31% can be perfectly acceptable depending on your genetics, body type and aesthetic goals.
When you get above 31%, that’s when you start to have adverse health effects and is considered obese.
You can see these ranges below. If you are curious about your body fat level, find a trainer at your gym who can measure it for you. The best way to have body fat measured is by an experienced person using calipers and the skinfold method. Handheld analyzers can be used as well, both methods have a 3% margin of error depending on the skill of the person doing the measuring and the quality of the calipers
If you’re interested in a free health assessment and consultation, email me. I’d be happy to help!
Essential fat: Women: 10-13%; Men: 2-4%
Athletes: Women: 14-20%; Men: 6-13%
Fitness: Women: 21-24%; Men: 14-17%
Acceptable: Women: 25-31%; Men: 18-25%
Obese: Women: 32%+; Men: 25%+”