Body measurements Health Calculators

Body Fat Calculator

Body Fat Calculator

This body fat calculator is a tool designed to help you estimate what percentage of your total body weight is body fat. If you ever wondered what is your body fat percentage, this is a perfect place to find out. We will explain to you in detail not only what is the importance of this information, but also how to calculate your body fat (including some alternative methods for measuring it) and give you some general guidelines regarding reducing your body fat.

What is body fat?

It is actually adipose tissue; its main function is to store energy in the form of lipids, but it cushions and insulates your body, too. Your body stores two types of fat: essential and storage body fat. The former is necessary to support life and reproductive functions. Essential body fat is substantially higher for women because of childbearing and hormonal functions. Storage body fat is the mass of additional accumulated fat. It does not mean that this type of body fat is unnecessary, though – part of it protects your abdomen and internal organs.

Measuring Body Fat Index

Your Body Fat Percentage is your most important measurement to determine progress toward health. For relevance, this number must have a relationship to real-life situations. According to American Council of Exercise men ideally should have 15% body fat, and women should ideally have 22% body fat. The same recommendations also state that a male is considered obese if he has more than 25% body fat and that a female is considered obese if she has greater than 32% body fat.

Classification Women (% Fat) Men (% Fat)
Essential Fat 10%-13% 2%-5%
Athletes 14-20% 6-13%
Fitness 21-24% 14-17%
Average 25-31% 18-24%
Obese 32% and above 25% and above

Measuring Body Fat Percentage

U.S. Navy Method:

There are many specific techniques used for measuring body fat. The calculator above uses a method involving equations developed at the Naval Health Research Center by Hodgdon and Beckett in 1984. The method for measuring the relevant body parts as well as the specific equations used are provided below:

  • Measure the circumference of the subject’s waist at a horizontal level around the navel for men, and at the level with the smallest width for women. Ensure that the subject does not pull their stomach inwards to obtain accurate measurements.
  • Measure the circumference of the subject’s neck starting below the larynx, with the tape sloping downward to the front. The subject should avoid flaring their neck outwards.
  • For women only: Measure the circumference of the subject’s hips at the largest horizontal measure.

Once these measurements are obtained, use the following formulas to calculate an estimate of body fat. Two equations are provided, one using the U.S. customary system (USC) which uses inches, and the other using the International System of Units, specifically the unit of centimeters:

Fat mass (FM) formula:

FM = BF × Weight

Lean Mass (LM) formula:

LM = Weight – FM

BMI Method:

Another method for calculating an estimate of body fat percentage uses BMI. Refer to the BMI Calculator to obtain an estimate of BMI for use with the BMI method, as well as further detail on how BMI is calculated, its implications, and its limitations. Briefly, the estimation of BMI involves the use of formulas that require the measurement of a person’s height and weight. Given BMI, the following formulas can be used to estimate a person’s body fat percentage.

Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for adult males:

BFP = 1.20 × BMI + 0.23 × Age – 16.2

Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for adult females:

BFP = 1.20 × BMI + 0.23 × Age – 5.4

Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for boys:

BFP = 1.51 × BMI – 0.70 × Age – 2.2

Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for girls:

BFP = 1.51 × BMI – 0.70 × Age + 1.4

Why should I control my body fat?

You need some body fat to regulate the production of hormones. An excessive percentage of body fat, however, can cause multiple health problems, such as:

  • Heart diseases: obesity and high levels of body fat can lead to high blood pressure and high levels of bad cholesterol, which are also risk factors for heart diseases. In extreme cases, they can lead to strokes, the third most common cause of death in the United States.
  • Male hormones problems: high body fat level in a woman’s body can lead to an excessive production of male hormones, causing facial hair growth and acne.
  • Diabetes: high body fat can lead to type 2 diabetes. There’s a strong correlation between diabetes and being overweight; people most at risk for developing type 2 diabetes are those who have a high body mass index (BMI) and a high body fat percentage.
  • Pregnancy complications: Women with high body fat levels are more likely to give birth prematurely or have children with health problems, including obesity. They are also more likely to need a Cesarean delivery.

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