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Healthy Body Fat Percentage

How much body fat is healthy? How much is too much?

The most basic answer to these questions has to do with how body fat is affecting you. You have the right amount of body fat if it isn't affecting your health or the things you want to do with your life.

It's not too high and it's not too low if you can do the things you want to do and if it isn't causing you medical problems. It's kind of an individual thing. Do you have any of these:

  • high blood pressure,
  • high cholesterol,
  • diabetes,
  • breathing trouble
  • or cancer

If not, then your body fat apparently isn't unhealthy for you, whatever it is.

Now, there are recommended ranges for body fat percentage. It's different for men and for women. Women naturally carry more body fat than men do. You also have more body fat as you get older.

Here are the "standard" percentages:

For men

Age Healthy Overweight Obese
20-40 8-19% 19-25% over 25%
41-60 11-22% 22-27% over 27%
61-79 13-25% 25-30% over 30%

For women

Age Healthy Overweight Obese
20-40 21-33% 33-39% over 39%
41-60 23-35% 35-40% over 40%
61-79 24-36% 36-42% over 42%

"To insure good health: Eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life."

William Londen

To find your percentage

There are a number of ways to figure out your body fat percentage. You can use a caliper, which is a device that pinches your fat and gives you a number. They have sophisticated calipers in health clubs and doctors offices.

But you can get an inexpensive caliper, for example the "Accumeasure," which has been shown to be almost as accurate as the very expensive units. Just do a search for Accumeasure and order one online. They cost about $19.99 and they are well worth it.

If you want an easy way to find your body fat at home, you just need a tape measure. Men just measure their height, neck and waist. Women also measure their hips. Then you click the link to the online body fat calculator and enter your numbers. Works like magic.

Making sense of the numbers

Let's take a couple examples from the chart and think about what it really means.

Imagine a 61 year old man that weighs 200 pounds (90 kg.) The chart says he can be up to 25% and still be healthy. Well, maybe. But at 25% body fat, he's carrying 50 pounds (22.5 kg) of fat.

Even if you don't have obvious health problems at that level, it's not ideal. It makes it harder to move. You can have more trouble breathing. More difficult to stay active. As the years go by it's likely to catch up. There are lot's of reasons to stay a little lighter.

Same holds true for women. A healthy 38-year-old woman can be 33% fat. But at 160 pounds (72 kg) for example, she's carrying 53 pounds (23 kg) of fat. Certainly she wouldn't want to go over that.

Even if there are not overt health problems, it's still more of a strain on the heart and the joints. It can become much more of a problem as the years go by.

"A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time - pills or stairs."

Joan Welsh

Where to start:

There is a lot of information on this site. The links below will get you off to a good start.

Most popular pages:

These are some of our most popular pages. They are also some of the most helpful if you are finally ready to lose weight.

You can always reach us:

  • 28960 US Highway 19 North, Suite 115
  • Clearwater, FL 33761
  • (727) 771-8282

  • Or to use our contact form click here.

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