Body Fat Calculator

Medically reviewed by Gabrielle Kane, RDN, CSP, LD Gabrielle Kane Gabrielle KaneRDN, CSP, LD facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Sindhu Koganti BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Himanshi Mahajan BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
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The human body consists of 70% water and 10%-20% of body fat. This body fat provides energy to carry out various bodily functions. However, anything more than this can be detrimental to the health. Therefore, measuring the body fat percentage and keeping it within safe limits is important. The normal range of body fat in men is between 12%-20% and for women, it is within 20%-30% (1). Our body fat calculator can help you estimate the body fat percentage. Scroll down to check it out and learn more about body fat percentage.

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What Is Body Fat?

Body fat represents the total fatty tissues or adipose tissues in your body. These tissues are composed of small fat cells called adipocytes (droplets of stored fat).

There are three types of adipose tissues in the body – white adipose tissue (WAT); brown adipose tissue (BAT), and beige adipose tissue. These are located around the organs, under the skin, around the neck, shoulders, and nerve tissues. They are stored as essential fat, subcutaneous, and visceral fats and are differentiated by their working properties, color, features, and source. Let’s learn more about them in the sections below (2), (3):

White Adipose Tissue (WAT)

  • White Adipose tissue is found in the human body in large content.
  • This is a type of stored body fat from where the body can use its energy as per requirement.
  • It helps in the functioning of the body’s hormones like estrogen, leptin, insulin, and growth hormone.

Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT)

  • It is mainly found in fetus, kids and new-born babies’ body.
  • It is often found in small quantities in the adult human body, particularly in the neck and shoulder regions.
  • Its primary function is to generate body heat by metabolizing its fatty acids.

Beige Adipose Tissue

  • Beige adipose tissues are stored within the white adipose tissues.
  • Research regarding beige tissues is limited as scans cannot properly distinguish beige from brown adipose tissues.
  • It also produces heat from tissues and provides energy.

The above types of tissues can be stored as essential fat, subcutaneous fat, and visceral fat in the human body. Keep reading to understand more about these types of fats.

Essential Fat

Essential fat is the good fat stored in the human body. It is essential for hormone regulation, vitamin absorption, and other functional work. They are mainly found in –

  • Central nervous system
  • Bone Marrow
  • Kidney
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Muscles
  • Intestine

Subcutaneous Fat

  • It is located right under the skin.
  • This type of fat is normally harmless. Sometimes it helps to protect the body from diseases.
  • WAT, BAT, and Beige tissues belong to this fat group.
  • It is a visible fat and can be easily measured by calipers while estimating the total body fat percentage.

Visceral Fat

  • It is known as belly fat or tummy fat.
  • It is mainly stored around major organs like the abdomen, pancreas, intestine, liver, and abdominal cavity.
  • Higher level of visceral fat is harmful. It may cause stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

How do I Calculate my Body fat percentage?

Technically body fat percentage or BFP is measured as total mass of fat divided by total body mass x 100. It is defined as a percentage of mass of fat on total body mass. BFP depends on the body type or fitness level of the person. There are different methods to calculate body fat percentage. The common and most popular is BMI, i.e. Body Mass Index.

Let us discuss some important body fat percentage measurement methods.

  1. Skinfold Caliper
    • It is an oldest tool of measuring body fat percentage.
    • It measures the thickness of subcutaneous fat under the skin in some specific body areas including the abdomen, quadriceps, midaxilla, pectoral area, suprailiac area, subscapular area, and triceps to get accurate results.

    ADVANTAGES :

    • It is affordable and easy to use.
    • It is very simple and quick process.

    DISADVANTAGES:

    • Does not show adequate accuracy level.
    • It requires adequate knowledge for handling.
  2. Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA SCANNING)This method involves full-body dual X-rays to provide detailed information about body composition, bone density, lean body mass, and body fat percentage. The procedure typically requires the patient to lie on an X-ray table for approximately 10 minutes.Advantage:
    • This is most accurate method with less error and provide all detailed information.

    Disadvantages:

    • This method is expensive.
    • It gives out X-ray radiation in the body in minimal amounts.
  3. Body Circumference MeasurementThis is a straightforward approach to estimating body fat percentage. Since everyone has a unique body shape, weight, and height, you can take measurements of specific body circumferences, such as the neck, waist, and hip, and put them into a measuring equation to obtain the final result with ease.Advantages:
    • This method is simple, easy and affordable.
    • Tools are very cheap, portable and easily available.

    Disadvantage:

    • Accuracy of this method is very low.
  4. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis
    This method involves the direct transmission of electrical current through the body. Generally, electrodes are placed on different body parts, with some electrodes delivering the current while others serve as receptors. Muscle tissue, containing a higher water content compared to fat, facilitates the smooth passage of the current. The effectiveness of this process primarily depends on the body’s resistance to the current. Individuals possessing greater muscle mass may tend to exhibit lower resistance.Advantages
    • It is easy to use.
    • Tools are easily available.

    Disadvantages

    • Not always accurate.
    • Result vary according to their food and fluid intake.

BODY FAT PERCENTAGE CATAGORY

The American Council on Exercise has recommended body fat percentage as per the below categories –

For Women

CategoryPercentage
Essential fat10-13%
Athletes14-20%
Fitness21-24%
Acceptable25-31%
Obesity>32%

Men Category

CategoryPercentage
Essential fat2-5%
Athletes6-13%
Fitness14-17%
Acceptable18-24%
Obesity>25%

You can measure your overall fitness level and progress by looking at body fat percentage or body mass index (BMI). Let’s understand how they are different.

Difference Between Body Fat Percentage And BMI

Body fat percentage shows how much essential fat or stored fat lies in your body. However, body mass index doesn’t take the fat percentage into account. It considers only the weight and height to determine the values. There is no way to understand whether the weight comes from fat or lean muscles.

BMI classifications encompass a range. Within the range of 18 to 25, it indicates whether your weight is considered normal, above normal, or falls into the underweight category relative to your height. Knowing the body fat percentage can give you a better idea about your health compared to BMI.

Why measure body fat percentage?

  • Measuring body fat percentage helps you understand what your weight means and if it due to the fat in your body. It is an indicator of good health.
  • It helps you understand the risk of chronic health conditions such as heart diseases, and other issues like diabetes and kidney problems, which may happen due to too much body fat.
  • By knowing your body fat percentage you will understand where you your fitness levels stand. It will help you set your fitness goals, be it reducing body fat mass or increasing lean muscle mass.

Normal fat percentage for men- 10-20%

Normal fat percentage for woman- 18-28%

Is Fat so bad?

Whenever we think about body fat, we think it is bad for health. Excess stored fat can be bad for your health and may cause obesity and other health complications. However, your body still requires non-fat mass (also called essential fats) for different purposes:

Body fat plays a vital role in maintaining the body’s natural work (4).

  1. It acts like cushion, helps to protect our internal organ from trauma.
  2. A body uses energy from body fat. During physical work or exercise body fat provides energy to the body. Adipose tissue produces energy to the body when body rejects energy from food in case of sickness.
  3. Fat helps our body to absorb nutrients especially fat-soluble vitamins.
  4. Fat maintain the normal temperature level of our body.
  5. It produces hormones and maintain normal hormonal regulation in our body, overall it controls body’s metabolic functions.
  6. Fat helps to Keeps our skin glowing and moisture.
  7. Body fat protect our immune function as well as bone health also.

Body fat percentage is one of the main indicators of your overall health. Having have higher body fat mass puts your at the risk of obesity and developing other health issues such as cardiovascular conditions and metabolic syndromes like diabetes. Knowing the body fat percentage helps you understand your body better and set your fitness goals. You can use this tool as a guide; however, do not solely rely on it as your health and fitness depends on a lot of other factors. Therefore, always work with a doctor and follow their advice to stay healthy and fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which body fat calculator is the most accurate?

DEXA scanning is considered the most accurate for calculating body fat. It also provides detailed information about body composition, bone density, lean body mass, and body fat percentage.

Are abs visible at 15 percent body fat?

While abs may not be visible at, you may start noticing a muscular shape. But 15 percent body fat means you are on your way to a six-pack.

How can I find out my body fat percentage without equipment?

You can find body fat percentages without equipment using simple formulae. Body fat percentage = (body weight – lean body mass)/(body weight) X 100. However, remember that it gives a rough estimate and may not be accurate.

You can find out lean body mass with your weight and height values (5).
For men
Lean body mass = (0.32810 × W) + (0.33929 × H) − 29.5336

For women
Lean body mass = (0.29569 × W) + (0.41813 × H) − 43.2933

Note:W refers to bodyweight in kilograms and H refers to height in centimeters.

At what body fat percentage do abs show?

The ideal body fat percentage for abs is 10% – 14%.

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References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Healthy body weights: an alternative perspective
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8615340/
  2. Adipose cell size: importance in health and disease
    https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00257.2017
  3. Brown and Beige Adipose Tissue
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5206678/
  4. What We Talk About When We Talk About Fat
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3934003/
  5. Prediction of lean body mass from height and weight
    https://jcp.bmj.com/content/jclinpath/19/4/389.full.pdf
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Gabrielle Kane

Gabrielle KaneMS, RDN, CSP, LD

Gabby is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with 11 years of experience. She is also the founder of Peak Performance Nutrition LLC in Houston, Texas. She coaches both adults and children to their peak health using the power of sustainable lifestyle change. In addition to a BA in Nutrition and Psychology from Case Western Reserve University, she also has a Master's...read full bio