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Body fat percentage

Body fat percentage

Body fat percentage is the percentage of your entire body mass that consists of fat. It is the only body measurement that directly calculates a person's relative body composition without regard to height or weight. As such, it is usually a more accurate fitness rating than BMI.

While a better measure of fitness than BMI, it is more difficult for the average person to measure since it requires specialised tools whereas BMI only requires a person's height and weight measurements.

Types of tests

There are several clinical ways to accurately measure your percentage of body fat, but the two following ways are more likely to be experienced in day to day life.

Bioelectric impedance analysis - The bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) method is a lower-cost (but less accurate than pure clinical tests) way to estimate body fat percentage. The general principle behind BIA: two or more conductors are attached to a person's body and a small electric current is sent through the body.

Pinch or skinfold tests - This uses special calipers to measure a pinch of skin at one or several specifics body points. Although it may not give an accurate reading of real body fat percentage, it is a reliable measure of body composition change over a period of time, provided the test is carried out by the same person with the same technique.

  • Description 
  • Essential fat
  • Athletes
  • Fitness
  • Average
  • Obese
  • Women
  • 10-13%
  • 14-20%
  • 21-24%
  • 25-31%
  • 32%+
  • Men
  • 2-5%
  • 6-13%
  • 14-17%
  • 18-24%
  • 25%+