Home Diets and Weight Loss Body fat percentage: you should know that!

Body fat percentage: you should know that!

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 175 views

Fat is an essential part of the body and fulfills important tasks, for example as an energy store. However, too much is not just an aesthetic problem. A high body fat percentage poses many health risks such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Here you can find out how to measure your body fat percentage, which values ​​are in the normal range and how to reduce excess fat.

Body Fat: This means body fat percentage

The body fat percentage indicates what proportion of the body mass consists of fat . This depends on various factors such as gender, age, muscle mass, diet, physical fitness and lifestyle.

However, not all body fat is the same. Medically, two types are distinguished.

  • The subcutaneous fatty tissue (subcutaneous fat) is located between the skin and muscles and is perceived to a great extent as an aesthetic flaw.
  • The so-called visceral fat envelops the internal organs and serves as a protective layer for them, but can pose significant health risks.

Adipose tissue is useful for humans to a certain extent: For example, it protects the organs from mechanical influences and serves the organism as heat protection and energy storage.

However, too much body fat can also be harmful: adipose tissue is hormonally active, so it has an influence on the endocrine system. The higher the body fat percentage, the greater the risk of negative health consequences.

What influences the body fat percentage?

Various factors influence the body fat percentage. These include the following.


Women have a higher body fat percentage compared to men. The tissue is stored in the breasts, hips and buttocks during puberty and serves as an energy reserve during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


From about the age of 30, muscle mass decreases continuously. At the same time, the fat content increases. This in turn leads to a decrease in the basal metabolic rate of calories. Therefore, when most people continue to eat as before and stop moving, the fat stores fill up.


Body fat percentage also varies depending on whether a person has lots of muscle or pronounced muscle. Because muscles use more energy. If this is not taken in sufficiently in the form of kilocalories through food (energy deficit), the body falls back on reserves and the fat content falls or remains in the low range.


If you take in more calories than you expend each day, you will have a surplus of energy. This is stored as a fat reserve – the body fat percentage increases as a result. Conversely, when there is an energy deficit, the body draws on these stores, and the body fat percentage then falls.

Physical fitness

Regular exercise increases energy expenditure. If you eat fewer calories at the same time, the organism falls back on its fat deposits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends moderate physical activity of at least 150 minutes per week. In the case of intensive exercise, 75 minutes per week is sufficient.

personal lifestyle

Constant stress or lack of sleep affect the body in various ways. If you are constantly energized or do not recover sufficiently, the organism releases the hormone cortisol. This slows down the breakdown of fat and promotes the feeling of hunger – both have a negative impact on the body fat percentage

Determine body fat percentage

Body fat percentage can be determined in a number of ways. The more complex procedures include:

  • Dual X-ray Absorptionmetry (DEXA) is an X-ray diagnostic method for determining body composition.
  • Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) measures body composition using a low-level alternating current passed through the body.
  • Skinfold thickness measurement using a caliper measures the body fat percentage using special pliers.
  • Body fat scales measure body fat percentage using a weak, imperceptible current that is passed through the body.

Calculate body fat percentage yourself

If you don’t have access to any of the above devices, you can use the YMCA formula to calculate body fat percentage yourself. You will need a tape measure and a calculator.

Body fat percentage (BFA) formulas vary by gender.

For men it is:

BFA in percent = ((74.11 x waist circumference in cm) – 3482) / weight in kg) – 8.2

For women it is:

BFA in percent = ((74.11 x waist circumference in cm) – 4464) / weight in kg) – 8.2

Body fat percentage: These values ​​are in the normal range

For women, a body fat percentage of less than 30 percent is considered normal. In men, the value should not exceed 25 percent.

For athletes in particular, a low body fat percentage is often beneficial for achieving certain goals. However, there are also limits here: A body fat percentage of at least 5 percent is considered essential for men and about 10 percent for women. If the value is lower, disorders in the organism can be the result.

Please note that slim people can also have a high body fat percentage. Visceral fat in particular is often not visible from the outside.

When does body fat become dangerous?

The visceral fatty tissue that envelops the organs produces more than 600 different hormones and messenger substances, some of which have inflammatory properties. These can harm the organism in different ways. Possible consequences of a permanently high body fat percentage are:

Children and young people in particular should not have a high body fat percentage. Because: Fat cells that develop in childhood and adolescence are no longer broken down by the body, they can only be reduced in size.

You can find out how to lose belly fat in the article Lose belly fat .

Reduce excess body fat

In order to reduce body fat, you must aim for an energy deficit of calories. Make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet and exercise regularly. A mixture of strength and endurance training is ideal for this. In order to avoid muscle breakdown, a protein-rich diet makes sense.

It is important that you do not consume more calories than you expend. These are stored in the form of fat.

Also, make sure you get enough sleep and avoid stress.

Body fat percentage vs. BMI: That’s the difference

The body mass index (BMI) is the most common formula for calculating weight. In science and practice, it is an important indicator for making weight recommendations.

However, it has clear weaknesses. Among other things, in contrast to the body fat percentage, he neglects the composition of body mass: A complete non-sports person can be classified as healthier than an athlete with pronounced muscle mass.

Nevertheless, the BMI is a quick and easy way to classify your own body weight.

You can find out how to lose weight successfully with sport in the article “ Losing weight with sport ”.

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