Ideal Body Fat For Women


White Black And Hispanic Women

What Bodyfat % Do Women Prefer?

BMI does not inherently distinguish between people of different genetic backgrounds. However, as this article will discuss later, different BMI cutoffs have been developed for Asian and South Asian populations.

White, Black, and Hispanic women are considered to be at a healthy weight when their BMI lies between 18.5 and 24.9.

For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , a woman 65 inches tall would fall within a normal BMI range if she weighed 111150 pounds .

However, women differ in body shape and body composition.

For example, research shows that Mexican American women tend to have a different body fat distribution than white or Black women. Additionally, Black women tend to have a higher amount of muscle mass than white or Mexican American women .

On average, Mexican American women have more body mass in their abdomen. One review found that Mexican American women may have 35% more body fat and a larger waist circumference than white or Black women with similar BMIs .

These differences between women of various ethnicities are based on data averaged over many people.

However, a persons ethnicity does not determine their weight, body fat distribution, proportion of muscle mass, waist circumference, or other body metrics. Every person is different.

This means that even if two women have the same BMI, they can have very different regional body fat distribution and muscle mass .

Main Types Of Body Fat

There are three main types of body fat:

What is Essential Fat?

Essential fat is the amount of body fat that’s necessary for your survival. This type of fat provides insulation to help keep you warm, protects and cushions your organs and allows you to absorb certain vitamins.

What is Subcutaneous Fat?

Subcutaneous fat is the fat that lies directly underneath your skin’s surface. When you talk about fat, this is the type you’re probably thinking about. It’s the fat that you can see and that jiggles when you move.

What is Visceral Fat?

Visceral fat is a deep type of fat that surrounds your organs. You can’t see visceral fat, but it’s the most dangerous type of body fat because it’s biologically active, which means it can produce hormones and other substances that affect your health. Visceral fat is connected to insulin resistance and metabolic diseases, and it can shorten your lifespan .

While subcutaneous fat may be your motivation behind wanting to lose some body fat, visceral fat is most concerning. The good news is when you lower your body fat percentage, you lose some of both types.

Keep in mind that while too much body fat is more of widespread concern, having a really low body fat percentage comes with its own set of health problems, like:

  • Increased risk of vitamin deficiencies, especially the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Brain and nervous system disorders

What Factors Falsely Affect Your Bmi And Scale Reading

To add insult to injury, there are many reasons your scale or BMI are not even providing you with accurate results. Mansour says these could include the following:

  • Water weight. If youve been flying recently, you could be holding onto extra fluid thats weighing you down.
  • Constipation. Sometimes things get bottlenecked inside our guts wait for them to pass before stepping on the scale.
  • Sodium. Eating foods high in sodium will definitely impact your readings.
  • Hormones. If its a few days before your period, your scale will show hormonal weight fluctuations.

So can we all agree to ignore the BMI calculator when trying to accurately determine your body-fat percentage?

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Ways To Measure Body Fat

  • Online body fat calculator Body fat calculators say they can calculate your body fat based on age, height, weight and activity level. Disregard these right off the bat, because theyre NOT accurate.
  • Skin calipers Otherwise known as a skinfold method, calipers give an estimate of body fat by having you pinch your fat in a few places throughout the body to measure bodyfat. Cheap ones are easy to find, but they can get varied results on the skinfold measurements based on whos doing the testing, the accuracy of the areas chosen for testing and their testing technique. Its not uncommon to get a different body fat measurement when two different testers take the same skinfold measurement on the same body. More accurate skinfold calipers like Skyndex are several hundred dollars and can be cost prohibitive.
  • Bioelectric impedance There are two main types of bioelectrical impedance analysis devices: one that you hold in your hands and body fat scales. These devices send out a low level electrical signal into a foot or hand and measure how long it takes the signal to travel to the other foot or hand. Fat will slow this down, while muscle, being a depot for water, will speed it up. These types of measurements can also be inaccurate because many things can impact the signal as it travels through the body including callouses on hands or feet, or how you hold or stand on the device.
  • So Whats A Healthy Body Fat Percentage

    Pin on #FitAndHealthy

    Fat mass is generally detrimental: the lower your body fat level, the better most of your health biomarkers insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, heart rate, etc. tend to be. Being underweight is mostly a problem related to low muscle mass, not low fat mass. However, when you get to generally psychologically unsustainable body fat levels, such as for a physique contest, you may experience transient negative health effects. As a rule of thumb, the lowest sustainable body fat level for women is the level at which they can maintain their regular menstrual cycle, assuming they had one in the first place. This should be roughly in the range of 15-20% body fat. Higher body fat levels in women are generally not a health problem until at least 25%. Men should generally avoid spending prolonged periods of time below 10% body fat. A visible sixpack should be realistic, but keep an eye on your mental health and libido when dieting to even lower levels. There should be no serious health issues in men up to at least 15% body fat.

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    Ace Body Fat Percentage Chart

    This chart from ACE is one of the most commonly used body fat charts.1

    As you can see, women have a higher body fat percentage relative to men for a given level.

    This is because of physiological differences including hormones, breasts, and sexual organs. In addition, women need a higher amount of body fat for ovulation.

    Essential fat is the minimum amount of fat necessary for basic physical and physiological health.

    There is a lot of controversy over what amount of body fat is optimal for overall health.

    A research paper by Gallagher et. al. in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition came to the conclusion that certain low body fat ranges are underfat, which implies unhealthy.2

    According to this research paper, men who are between 20-40 years old with under 8% body fat are considered underfat, whereas a healthy range is described as between 8-19%. For women in this same age group, any level under 21% is underfat and 21-33% is considered healthy.

    Body fat is an important measure of health, but stating a certain body fat level is unhealthy doesnt give the whole story.

    In fact, some overweight people who exercise can be healthier than their leaner non-exercising counterparts.3

    Conversely, to imply that anyone below 8% body fat with exceptional fitness who eats well is underfat, or unhealthy is a stretch.

    We all have different shapes, sizes, and fat distribution profiles, but the chart above is a good starting point.

    What Are The Health Consequences Of Obesity For Adults

    People who have obesity are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions, including the following: 10, 17, 18

    • All-causes of death
    • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
    • Chronic inflammation and increased oxidative stress19,20
    • Low quality of life
    • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders21,22
    • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning23

    For more information about these and other health problems associated with obesity, visit Health Effects.

    1Garrow, J.S. & Webster, J., 1985. Quetelets index as a measure of fatness. Int. J. Obes., 9, pp.147153.

    2Freedman, D.S., Horlick, M. & Berenson, G.S., 2013. A comparison of the Slaughter skinfold-thickness equations and BMI in predicting body fatness and cardiovascular disease risk factor levels in children. Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 98, pp.141724.

    3Wohlfahrt-Veje, C. et al., 2014. Body fat throughout childhood in 2647 healthy Danish children: agreement of BMI, waist circumference, skinfolds with dual X-ray absorptiometry. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr., 68, pp.66470.

    4Steinberger, J. et al., 2005. Comparison of body fatness measurements by BMI and skinfolds vs dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and their relation to cardiovascular risk factors in adolescents. Int. J. Obes., 29, pp.13461352.

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    Potential Complications Of Excess Body Fat

    The World Health Organization classifies obesity as one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide that is estimated to claim 111,909 to 365,000 deaths per year in the U.S. This has been a growing cause for concern because 36.5% of U.S. adults are defined as obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Obesity is associated with a reduction in quality of life, poorer mental health outcomes, obstructive sleep apnea, as well as multiple leading causes of death worldwide such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, certain cancers and diabetes. All of these potential complications have the ability to reduce a person’s life expectancy, and as such, obesity is a medical condition that is studied by many researchers.

    When To Talk With A Pro

    Body Fat for Abs to Show – The Truth! (MEN AND WOMEN)

    Tracking your body fat percentage is one way to measure progress when youre trying to lose weight or gain lean muscle mass. But it isnt the entire story of your overall health. Eating healthy and being active is where you need to focus your energy.

    If you have any questions or concerns about your BMI or body fat percentage, consider talking with your doctor, a certified personal trainer, or registered dietitian. They can help you understand your individual results and work with you to design a plan that fits your needs.

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    Healthy Body Fat Percentage For Women

    Let me be clear that there is no ideal body fat percentage for women!

    Instead, this will depend on your specific fitness and body fat goals. It may also depend somewhat on genetics, your natural body type or build, and fat distribution, which is how stored fat tends to accumulate on your specific body. Fat distribution in women also changes as we age.

    Due to all of these factors, two bodies with the exact same body fat percentage could look pretty different.

    Finally, if youve ever heard men talking about sub 7% body fat, remember that women naturally have and need more fat on their bodies than men. For example, if you look at the chart below, based on the American Council on Exercise body fat ranges, the essential bodyfat range for women is 10 13% while for men it is just 2 5%.

    How Body Mass Index Is Different

    When thinking about body composition, body mass index might come to mind. But BMI doesnât measure body fat. Doctors use BMI to find out your weight status. Thereâs a range of healthy to unhealthy BMIs. BMI only tells you the ratio of your weight to your height, however, so it’s not an incredibly accurate tool to know if youâre at a healthy level or not.

    Typically, a high BMI of more than 30 does indicate obesity. If you have a BMI of over 30, you may have a higher body fat percentage. This could put you at risk for health problems like hypertension , osteoarthritis, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.

    Doctors use BMI to measure your height and weight, and to find if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. BMI is associated with body fat percentage but doesnât give an accurate picture of your body makeup.

    BMI is more helpful as a global index for nutrition. When used to help determine if a person is overweight, obese, or has an eating disorder, it can be useful. But if itâs used for body composition, itâs not as accurate or helpful.

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    What Is Body Fat

    Your body is made up of water, protein, fat, and minerals. There are two types of fat in your body.

    Non-fat mass. This is also known as essential fat. This kind of fat is in your bones, liver, kidneys, intestines, and muscles. Fat in these places is required for your body to function normally. â

    Fat mass. Also known as stored fat, this is found in your adipose tissue. This type of fat is used as energy for your body. It insulates and cushions your body. It surrounds your organs and is just under your skin.

    Excessive stored fat can be harmful to your health. Having too much stored fat can lead to chronic diseases and conditions.

    These may include:

    Checking your body composition lets you know the shifts in your body fat and muscle mass. If you exercise less or more but your weight stays the same on the scale, your internal body composition could have changed.

    Healthy Body Fat Percentages For Men

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    A healthy body fat percentage for men is between 18-24%. Anything over 25% is considered to be obese .

    Just like women, men who exercise more and carry more muscle will typically sit at a lower body fat range. For them, this range is around 14-17%.

    Curious about what kinds of nutrition and lifestyle habits are required to reach your desired level of leanness? Check out this article!

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    Body Fat Percentage Breakdown

    5 to 9%

    If your body is only between 5 to 9%, your body fat is dangerously low. Eight per cent is usually the fat essential for your body to work and may severely compromise your health. If you’re here, go and see your GP.

    10 to 14%

    This is still very low athletes, for example tend to have this level of fat.

    15 to 19%

    Women who have 15 to 19% body fat tend to have an athletic build and be super physically fit.

    20 to 24%

    This is on the lower side, but still healthy.

    25 to 31%

    This is a good body fat percentage and the average percentage for a woman. Muscles are not so defined, arguably ‘softer’ but, by medical standards, this is not an issue.

    30 to 34%

    This percentage is when you’re steering away from healthy and obesity. Your body may not be feeling as fit.

    35 to 39%

    Having a body fat percentage over 35% means you may develop diabetes and other diseases such as heart disease.

    Weight Gain Recommendations During Pregnancy Based On Bmi

    Healthcare professionals recommend that women gain a certain amount of weight during pregnancy based on their prepregnancy BMI range (13,

    1120 pounds 0.5 pounds per week

    Even though you can use these recommendations as helpful guidelines, its important to work with your healthcare provider. They can help you determine a healthy weight gain during pregnancy based on your specific needs and overall health.

    Keep in mind that weight gain guidelines are different for women carrying more than one baby.


    A normal BMI for women ranges from 18.524.9. However, BMI is not an accurate measure of obesity in many people. It tends not to be a good indicator in postmenopausal women, athletes, and Black and Hispanic women, in particular.

    BMI uses a persons height and weight to estimate their body fat.

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    Calculating Body Fat Percentage

    According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 1991, if you are an adult, your percentage of body fat can be estimated as accurately as with skin-fold measurements and bioelectrical tests using the following gender-based formulas in conjunction with your BMI. This calculation has been shown to slightly overestimate body fat percentage in people who are very overweight. Take your BMI result from Step 3 and plug it into the appropriate formula below to calculate your body fat percentage.


    • + – 5.4 = Body Fat Percentage


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    Healthy Weight And Bmi Range For Older Adults

    What Is the Ideal BODYFAT Percent?

    Lisa Sullivan, MS, is a nutritionist and health and wellness educator with nearly 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry.

    BMI is a key sign of overall health. Guidelines recommend that all adults keep their BMI between 18 and 24.9. A BMI of 25 and over indicates that you are overweight. And a BMI over 30 is considered obesity.

    However, it is possible that a few extra pounds may not be as harmful to those over age 65 as they are for younger people. In fact, being underweight is something older people should avoid.

    This article will discuss healthy weight ranges and BMI for older adults. It will also help you learn how BMI affects older adults and why it’s dangerous for older adults to be underweight.

    Body Mass Index is a dated, flawed measure. It does not take into account factors such as body composition, ethnicity, sex, race, and age.

    Even though it is a biased measure, BMI is still widely used in the medical community because its an inexpensive and quick way to analyze a persons potential health status and outcomes.

    Verywell / Ellen Lindner

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