body fat

Body fat percentage: how to measure it and reduce it.

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What is my body fat percentage?

Body fat percentage is a measure of how much of your total body mass is fat.

It is useful to learn how to measure your body fat percentage so that you can create a weight loss programme that targets excess body fat.

Our total body mass is made up of several different elements:

  • Tissues and organs
  • Blood, arteries, veins and blood vessels
  • Fluids
  • Fat

How do I measure my body fat percentage?

The easiest way is to get a set of scales that measure your body fat percentage. They are now very affordable and easy to find. These scales will give you your total weight, and then run a small current through your body to identify the different densities in your body. They can give you you body fat percentage and muscle percentage, as well as fluid percentage and BMI. With a little maths, you can convert your percentages into figures.

You can also measure your body fat with a set of callipers. These are also inexpensive and easily available. If measured properly, callipers can give you a more accurate reading. Converting your measurements is best worked out with an online calculator.

How do I convert my body fat percentage into weight?

Once you have your body weight, you can perform some simple maths to work out the weight.

  • Lets say you weigh 125 pounds.
  • Your body fat percentage is 20%
  • 125 divided by 100 and multiply by 20.
  • Your body fat weight is 25 pounds.

Why is working out my body fat percentage important?

Understanding how much of our weight is fat helps you to work out a weight loss plan that targets fat. If you measure your body fat and muscle regularly, you can monitor your weight loss to make sure the fat percentage goes down and the muscle percentage is maintained.

A drop in muscle percentage means that you are losing muscle mass, which can point to losing weight too quickly, or an imbalance in your macronutrients.

Calculating your body fat is also important to determine exactly how much weight you need to lose. Rather than plucking an ideal weight from thin air, we can work out a healthy body composition.

We should carry a certain amount of fat to maintain our health and wellbeing:

Body fat %MenWomen
Essential2-5%10-13%
Athletes6-13%14-20%
Fitness14-17%21-24%
Average18-24%25-31%
Obese25%+32%+

Essential fat is the bare minimum amount of fat we need to stay alive. At this level, some of our bodily functions will start to deteriorate to keep vital functions working. We should not fall to essential levels only.

At the opposite end of the scale, being obese significantly increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other illnesses.

How do I lose fat without losing muscle?

If you want to target fat when losing weight, there are several things you can do.

  • Lose weight at a slow and steady pace. Create a modest calorie deficit (250-500kcal per day)
  • Eat at least 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. 1.2-1.6 grams if you are strength training.
  • Strength train to maintain muscle mass.
  • Keep cardio exercise to a moderate level.
  • Work out 3-5 times per week.
  • Increase your activities of daily living. Move more.
  • Monitor your body fat and body muscle percentages.

We cannot control where our fat loss will appear on the body. By making efforts to lose fat and retain muscle, we will see our body become more streamlined and toned.

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