Just as it sounds, body fat percentage measures how much fat is stored in your body, says Reda Elmardi, a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist and founder of The Gym Goat. It measures the percentage of your total body weight – the sum of your organs, skin, bones, fat, muscle – is derived from fat.
“Body fat percentage is a better determinant of health than BMI,” says Pandia Health founder Sophia Yen, MD, MPH. In contrast to the BMI that looks at the person In total mass compared to their height, body fat percentage allows you to see specifically how much fat a person has, explains Matthew Scarfo, certified by NASM CPT-OPT with Lift Vault. Therefore, “it is a measurement that allows doctors to provide more personalized care,” he says.
What is considered the percentage of healthy body fat?
What is defined as the percentage of healthy body fat varies depending on factors such as age, gender, genetics, lifestyle, overall health and activity level, according to Elmardi. For people who are defined as women at birth, a normal range of body fat percentage is between 18 and 30 percent, she says. According to the American Exercise Council, athletes (especially professional athletes) can swing safely in the 14 to 20 percent range.
As a general rule, cisgender women need more essential body fat than cisgender men, who can safely range between 6 and 24 percent body fat. Why; Simply put, raising children, says Yen. “If you do not have enough fat, then your body says ‘well this person does not have enough nutrients to maintain a pregnancy,'” he explains.
The risks of having a higher or lower percentage of body fat
People who are considered women at birth are considered medically overweight if they have more than 30 percent body fat and underweight if they are below 14 percent.
While one may have a body fat percentage above 30 and have no health problems, “over time, the risk for a number of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, “Osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and certain types of cancer are on the rise,” says Elmardi.
However, this is not a case of the lower the better. A percentage of body fat under the age of 14 can have its own health risks. “Body fat is the body’s natural energy storage,” explains Elmardi. “You need some of this fat to fuel your heart rate, your brain to function and your muscles to function,” he says. If you do not have enough, your body will not be able to function optimally.
Visceral body fat (the type that is stored around the organs) also produces hormones. Having too little can cause the body to produce less estrogen, which can affect a person’s menstrual cycle. In some cases, low body fat can completely stop a person’s cycle and they will not ovulate, says Dr. Yen. Low body fat during pregnancy has also been linked to higher miscarriage rates.
Body fat is also essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. Therefore, too little body fat can lead to nutritional deficiencies that lead to fatigue, dizziness, fog, joint pain or changes in hair or skin texture.
That’s how it has to be I do I monitor my body fat percentage?
Usually, the amount of fat in your body is useful information to know, says Hannah Daugherty, certified personal trainer with Exercise With Style. “Even if the assessment is sketchy, knowing where you are can shed some light on your health and can help set goals for your health and fitness and future prospects,” he says.
In addition to general well-being, due to the relationship between body fat percentage and menstrual cycle, people who ultimately want to become pregnant and those who have difficulty with fertility may choose to monitor their body fat percentage to make sure that it is enough. high to support a healthy flow.
It can also be a useful measurement for athletes to watch, especially premenopausal athletes who have never missed their menstrual cycle, says Daugherty. Low body fat is not exclusive cause of amenorrhea – the medical term for menstrual cycle MIA – but low weight and body fat can increase the risk, he says.
In addition, healthcare providers may also choose to measure the body fat of people with persistent vitamin deficiencies, as well as a range of symptoms commonly associated with malnutrition, such as fatigue and hair loss.
But body fat percentage is not a good measure All to watch. If you have a history of malnutrition, physical deformity or orthodoxy, monitoring your body fat percentage can lead to unhealthy mental, dietary or physical exercise patterns. In this case, it is enough to take symptoms that are usually associated with a very low or very high percentage of body fat.
Exactly how to measure body fat percentage
If you’re interested in finding out the percentage of fat in your body, you’re probably wondering how the hell you can do that. There are various mechanisms and machines designed to spit out a number. Which one you choose will depend on whether or not you are willing to go to a health or fitness unit, as well as the margin of error you are willing to accept.
The most affordable method is the caliper skin test, which is an old-school evaluation that involves using a caliper (basically, giant metal pegs with a small dial attached) to pinch skin and fat to various parts of the body. including triceps. biceps, shoulders and hips. While this test is a good way to evaluate where Keeping your subcutaneous fat usually low or high reduces your total body fat by a significant 3.5 to 5 percent.
For people who want to measure their body fat directly from home, a better option is the smart scale, which looks like your bathroom scale, but provides measurements such as water weight, bone density, BMI, muscle mass (sometimes even muscle mass per limb!), and body fat percentage. The jury knows how accurate these scales are. A very small study suggests not much, but Daugherty says they provide a fairly rough estimate.
Finally, if you are willing to go to a doctor’s office or gym for a test, there are also 3D body scanners, air displacement demographics and underwater weighing, to name just a few. All of these are considered quite expensive, but usually cost a pretty penny (or 10).
Of course, no number tells the whole story. The but The measures you follow will vary depending on your general health and fitness goals. But in general, how much you can lift, how fast you can move, how much time you sleep, heart rate variability and heart rate all offer valuable quality knowledge about your health.
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