Body Fat Percentage: How Much Body Fat Is Ideal?

Body fat depends on many factors: How to calculate and reduce your body fat percentage. With table and the optimal value for your gender and age.

What body fat percentage (KFA) is healthy and at what point does it get dicey? When stars and starlets lose a lot of weight and their crisp celebrity butts flicker across the screen and their six-packs really show off, it’s on all channels.

The celebrities have very different methods: Some rely on intensive endurance and strength training with a personal coach, while others focus on improving their diet.

U.S. model Kim Kardashian, for example, lost almost 20 kilos of body fat through a strict 1800-calorie-a-day diet and crisp workouts. Robbie Williams lost over 10 kilos within a few months on a strict vegan diet.

However, since VIPs are always role models, experts are alarmed. After all, fat cells are not only responsible for a higher BMI (Body Mass Index; the ratio of weight to the square of height) and unloved hip pads, but also protect the organs, among other things.

Insufficient fat reserves can also lead to immune disorders: Adipose tissue is in fact an important factor in immune defense. The messenger substances from the fatty tissue have a variety of effects on the immune system.

How much body fat is healthy?

The optimal body fat percentage, or KFA for short, depends on individual factors such as age, gender, and physique. Our tables (see below) show you the ideal amount of body fat in each case.

If the value is too high, this usually also increases poor blood values and blood pressure, which often results in the calcification of the blood vessels.

This increases the risk of diseases such as stroke, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. You can determine your body fat percentage with the help of our body fat calculator.

Above all, a considerable abdominal girth is not without risk – because the flab on the abdomen, also known as visceral adipose tissue, is not without danger.

Important: Even slim people can have a high body fat percentage, because fat is also stored inside the body, for example in the muscles and organs.

If, on the other hand, the level of body fat is below 6 percent in men and 12 percent in women, disorders in the organism are the result.

Body fat – the decisive factor is also where it sits

A nice round butt is not only a visual benefit! A higher percentage of body fat on the buttocks and hips can protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

This is assured by scientists from the University of Oxford in Great Britain. To this end, the researchers evaluated several large population studies that examined the relationship between increased body fat on the buttocks, hips, and thighs and a wide variety of blood values.

The explanation: A high abdominal circumference or thick padding on the abdomen can release harmful fatty acids and send cytokines into the body that can cause inflammation.

Hip, thigh, and buttock fat, on the other hand, traps these acids, preventing them from attaching to the liver or muscles, where they can cause numerous health problems.

The nice consequence of body fat in the right place is: blood fat levels are better, and blood vessel calcification and stiffening are reduced.

And so what was supposed to be bad news becomes good news, because We all know how hard it is to get rid of butt and hip gold.

According to these new findings, this is no longer necessary – if only the belly fat doesn’t become too much. So your motto in the future should be belly off!

“Unwanted are fat pads around the liver or the heart, and they can exist even though you can’t see it from the outside,” said Jimmy Bell of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre.

Studies would increasingly show that a person’s health did not depend on total body fat, but on where the fat stores were stored.

Figure check is therefore always a complete program – nevertheless: To reduce the belly circumference with suitable workouts is already beginning.

Reduce body fat – this is how it works

You don’t have to go on a radical diet to lose a pound or two in the right places. On the one hand, that would be counterproductive, because strict diets, for example, slow down your metabolism and reduce your basal energy metabolic rate – the yo-yo effect kicks in. In addition, very ascetic nutrition programs and hard diets are usually not good for your health either.

To lose body fat sustainably, you should instead limit your daily energy intake only moderately – or consume enough calories through sports activities.

Lowering body fat through a more conscious diet

Experts recommend a daily deficit of between 500 and 800 calories for all weight loss enthusiasts, whether men or women. But what is your actual daily requirement?

You can calculate it quickly and easily with our calorie calculator. To reduce your body fat percentage, you then subtract at least 500 calories from the calculated total requirement – this gives you your ideal energy input per day for slimming.

Reduce body fat percentage through sports activities

If it’s not easy for you to lose weight through nutrition, then the second way is to increase your energy consumption.

This can be sports activities such as running, cycling, or swimming, but also everyday activities have an impact.

On our homepage, you will find not only a training program for every goal and for every sporting discipline – fat killer plans for losing weight, but also for increasing performance.

Strength training increases the basal metabolic rate
Another way to attack your waistline and boost your metabolism is strength training. After all, muscles are your body’s furnaces – the more of them you have, the higher your daily energy requirement or basal metabolic rate.

A nice side effect: You’ll bulk up in the right places – including a firm butt and a strong six-pack.

Calculate body fat percentage: These measurement methods are available

Bio-impedance analysis

If you want to know exactly: The bio-impedance analysis provides detailed information about your body composition. BIA body fat scales for home use are available from sports retailers. In addition to the kilo value, these body analysis products also determine the water, muscle, and body fat percentage.

This means you can see immediately whether your training has actually resulted in the loss of unwanted hip fat or whether you have simply lost water or even muscle tissue – which is very counterproductive if you want to reduce fat tissue. So the more body fat there is, the higher the resistance.

The measured value is put into a formula in conjunction with previously entered data such as height, body weight, age, and gender. However, depending on the product, these are not always accurate. If you want exact values, you can get them in any case at a BIA check, which sports doctors and sometimes also alternative practitioners perform.

There, the current is not only passed through the lower body (as with household fat scales), but also through the upper body by means of extra electrodes. This gives more correct results. However, physical activities, diet or drinking habits, and menstrual cycle influence the results.

Near-infrared method

Here, an infrared head is aimed directly at a predetermined point on the biceps. However, this method is not completely accurate, because here the complete body fat content is inferred from a subcutaneous fold measurement.

Skin fold measurement with caliper

The most cost-effective method: Calipers for measuring skin folds are available online for less than 10 Euros.

Important here: It must definitely always be measured in exactly the same places to achieve comparable results. Since you can’t do it cleanly on your own, a partner should help you – preferably always the same person.

Magnetic resonance imaging

Since this method, in contrast to the simple skin fold measurement & Co. is associated with very high financial expenditure, we do not go into detail here, but mention it only for the sake of completeness.

Is BMI still meaningful?

Weighing, calculating, or measuring? What is the best way to find out whether you are too fat, where the fat is located, and how dangerous it is to your health?

For years, the Body Mass Index (BMI) was considered the absolute guideline. To determine it, height and mass are put in relation to each other. The shortcoming of the BMI is that it does not distinguish between muscle and fat content, so heavy, well-trained athletes, for example, come off far too badly. It also does not work properly for children.

American researchers have now developed the Body Adiposity Index (BAI). It puts hip circumference in relation to height and makes it possible to determine the percentage of body fat.

Researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke and the University of Tübingen have now compared the significance of the two indices. Their verdict: the new BAI is not superior to the old BMI in estimating the percentage of body fat.

In fact, they say, BMI is more closely related to body fat distribution. “Especially in male study participants, the estimation of percent body fat using BAI was inaccurate,” said study leader Mathias Schulze. To determine diabetes risk, the researchers said it would be useful to additionally measure waist circumference.

Body fat – calculating BMI and BAI correctly

These formulas show you how to calculate BMI and BAI at a glance:

This is how you calculate BMI

Weight in kg divided by the square of the height in m
Evaluation: BMI up to 25 = normal.

How to calculate the BAI

Hip circumference in cm divided by (height in m times the square root of the height in m) minus 18 = percent body fat.
Evaluation: women should have no more than 35%, men no more than 22%.

Waist circumference

Measure with a tape measure at about the level of the belly button.
Evaluation: Women should measure no more than 87 cm, men no more than 101 cm.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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