Meaning of body fat percentage

More and more people have realized that fat percentage can be a better measure than weight, especially when doing strength training. Learn more about the meaning of body fat percentage.

You can weigh precisely the same today as a year ago and have a body that is changed. What has changed then is body composition, and you have gained less fat and more muscle.

Fat percentage is simply a measure of how much fat you have on your body. If you weigh, e.g., 70 kg and have a fat percentage of 10, you have 7 kg of body fat. Your fat percentage is how much of your body mass is made up of fat and is a good measure of how fit you are.

Once you know your fat percentage, you can determine if the amount of fat is potentially harmful to your health. Both too high and too low-fat ratios will be detrimental to health.

It can be a bit challenging to get the fat percentage measured precisely. Advanced X-ray scanners (DEXA scanners) are used in laboratories and large research centers, and these are accurate but not available to the “man in the street.” I prefer calipers (fat pinch), where you measure the thickness of the subcutaneous fat at specific points (often 3-9 different issues). But then you depend on the person measuring, know what they are doing, and are good at measuring at the same time.

What is the average fat percentage?

What is a standard fat percentage varies according to age and gender? There are no internationally recognized limit values ​​for which fat percentage is categorized as “normal weight.” But somewhere between 15 and 30% for women and between 8 and 20% for men is what one would typically call.

Based on guidelines, a fat percentage of over 33% for women and over 20% for men are overweight. Again, this depends on age. As you get older, you often get a lower percentage of muscle on your body, and then the rate of fat is higher in percentage.

People may think that it will be easy to see who has a high or low-fat percentage. But the fat rate of 30% has been measured in catwalk models – which are often unreasonably thin. The high-fat portion is because they have almost no muscle, and then the fat they have on the body is much higher in percentage.

Can you have too low fat percentage?

If you have too low a fat percentage, you can get hormonal disorders because the body cannot produce enough hormones. Adipose tissue is more than just a storehouse for excess energy, and it is also the body’s largest hormone-producing organ. Both too much and too little fat on the body will create a hormonal imbalance.

In women with a very low-fat percentage, we often also see low estrogen production and missed periods. A low estrogen level increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. The immune system is also weakened when the fat percentage is too low, both men and women.

The lower limit is very individual. For some women, it may be 12%, for others 15%. Men can usually go down to 8% before it has consequences for, among other things, testosterone production.

Some of the fat we have in the body is so-called essential fat. This is the fat stored in the heart, liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, intestines, muscles, bone marrow, and fatty parts of the central nervous system. The essential fat is the fat percentage that is a minimum for the body to have a normal physiological function. For women, this is estimated at 12% fat, while it is 3% for men.

Calculator to calculate fat percentage

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