Calculate body fat percentage: This much body fat is ideal.

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Calculate your ideal body fat percentage the right way! Body fat percentage indicates the percentage of fatty tissue in your body concerning its total mass. What body fat percentage is good depends mainly on your age and gender.


What is body fat percentage ideal? 


Which physique is (still) healthy? 


When are you TOO slim or TOO fat? 


How do you set yourself realistic weight loss goals that you can achieve healthy – and with a good feeling? Those are crucial questions, and here are the answers.


Below you will learn the best methods to help you evaluate and calculate your body fat percentage and set a realistic goal.


The discussion about what body fat percentage is actually “healthy” is in full swing, and scientists still do not agree on exact figures. 


A recent article was about whether you can build muscle and lose fat at the same time, the best strategy. 


Answer: Theoretically, yes, but practically difficult to implement. So I recommend that you focus on one goal at a time and lose fat first until you reach your desired body fat percentage.


The logical next question is: what body fat percentage is ideal?


What is your ideal body fat percentage


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What is your ideal body fat percentage: How much body fat is healthy?

Health comes before looks, so let’s ignore the sexy six-pack and the trained dream body for now.


What body fat percentage is ideal if we are only concerned with eliminating as many disease risks as possible and being in optimal health?


As already mentioned, there is still no unanimous opinion among scientists on this topic, but there is a lively discussion. 


This is mostly taking place in the country where there are already many obese people: in the USA – with Europe close on its heels.


So what percentage of body fat is healthy? That depends on your age and gender. Extensive statistics show, however, that a body fat percentage of between 12% and 20% for men and between 20% and 30% for women is the healthiest. 


You can see which body fat percentage is typical for your age in the tables below.


Is it unhealthy for a man to have less than 12% body fat and a woman to have less than 20% body fat? No:


A low body fat percentage can be an expression of very healthy as well as very unhealthy living conditions.


What does that mean?


We must take into account that these are statistical values. That means the researchers took a large number of people – a cross-section of the population – and measured their body fat percentage, then looked to see if they were healthy.


We can assume that most people with a very low body fat percentage were not so lean because they had an optimal diet and exercised regularly — not necessarily in the best of health.


How much body fat is healthy


Illness, poor diet, drugs — many bad and extremely unhealthy causes of low body fat.


Conclusion: We stay tuned to a healthy diet that provides the nutrients we need to stay fit and efficient – even when losing weight.


It is crucial to your success that you have a clear goal, an image of your dream body that you always carry in your head.


There are some very important points that you should consider when defining your goal.


To achieve this goal and stick to it, you make it measurable – via the body fat percentage and sub-goals.


In our fitness coaching, we recommend the following sub-goals to our clients:


GenderSmall OverweightClear Overweight



As soon as the partial goal has been reached, you compare your current reflection with the dream body you have as an image in your head – either you are already there or set the next (partial) goal.


I see it as an absolute requirement that you have a clear vision in mind and that you create a suitable environment for your success.


If you don’t have this image clearly defined, you will never be able to reach your goal.


Most people haven’t learned how to set goals yet, even though it’s so easy and fun.


KEY FACTS – What percentage of body fat is normal?


That largely depends on your age and gender. A body fat percentage range of 20% – 30% in women and 12% – 20% in men is considered healthy. 


Now let’s go into more detail with the following two body fat evaluation methods.


How to Calculate body fat


How to Calculate body fat percentage – Method 1: ACE

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) body fat chart is widely used in fitness.


Here, too, you can see in black and white that women have a significantly higher body fat percentage than men in each of the five areas.


Due to their physical and hormonal differences, but also for ovulation, women need more fat resources.





KEY FACTS – What percentage of body fat is dangerous?

Women should not fall below the body fat limit of 13%. In men, body fat should be at least 5%. Otherwise, you risk health problems. 


The lower limit describes the essential proportion of our body fat. So the absolute minimum is that we need to keep our bodily functions running without restrictions.


This lower limit is well below the scientifically “healthy” spectrum mentioned initially. As discussed earlier, our body fat percentage is just one factor that we can use to measure health and fitness.


A low body fat percentage can either reflect a very healthy or a very unhealthy lifestyle.


For example, competitive male athletes in natural bodybuilding achieve body fat levels of around 5% — while enjoying peak performance and fitness. 


On the other hand, despite having a high body fat percentage, sumo wrestlers have excellent blood lipid levels and a long life expectancy.


Therefore, I think the conclusion that every person with a six-pack (i.e., as a man <10% body fat) has an “unhealthy” body fat percentage that is too low is simply wrong.


Each of us has a slightly different physique, and each body stores fat in preferred areas. 


These individual factors are not accounted for in the American ACE table, but you can use the ACE guidelines as a good starting point to make your goal MEASURABLE.


The ACE table above has another catch: Although men and women are distinguished, all age groups are lumped together.


Fortunately, Messrs. Jackson & Pollock have an elegant solution that also considers age.


Jackson and Pollock body fat percentage


How to Calculate body fat percentage – Method 2: Jackson & Pollock

The caliper is one of the most accurate “everyday” methods to determine body fat percentage. One of the best-selling products is the MEDca caliper, which comes with body fat rating charts by researchers Jackson & Pollock.


Jackson & Pollock’s body fat measurement research has long become the de facto industry standard for skinfold measurement.


The measurement with the caliper is done quickly.


You measure the thickness of your skin fold at different body parts and then add up all the measured values. You can then easily read the result in the table.


These tables only seem complex at first glance. They are really easy to read:


  •       Skinfold thickness: You will find your measurement result in millimeters in the headings of the columns. You get this value when you add all measured skinfold thicknesses (“Accu-Measure Reading in millimeters”).
  •       Age: leftmost column, sorted by rows from young (first row) to old (last row)
  •       Body fat percentage: Entries in the table from 2.0% (top left) to 33.3% (bottom right) for men, and 11.3 to 39.5% for women.
  •       Evaluation by colors: slim (blue), ideal (green), average (yellow), and overweight (red)


Body Fat Percentage – Men

Body fat percentage - men



A 35-year-old man is therefore classified as ideal with a body fat percentage of 12-19% and as average with 19-24%:


18 – 207-14%14-20.5%> 20.5%
21 – 259-16%16-22%> 22%
26 – 3010-17%17-23%> 23%
31 – 3512-19%19-24%> 24%
36 – 4013.5-20.5%20.5-25.5%> 25.5%
41-4515-22%22-27%> 27%
46-5017-23.5%23.5-28.5%> 28.5%
51-5518.5-25.5%25.5-30%> 30%
> 5620-26.5%26.5-31%> 31%


Body Fat Percentage – Women

Body fat percentage - women



18 – 2019-24%24-30.5%> 30.5%
21 – 2519.5-25%25-31.5%> 31.5%
26 – 3021-26%26-32%> 32%
31 – 3522-27%27-33%> 33%
36 – 4023-28%28-34%> 34%
41-4524-29%29-35%> 35%
46-5025-30%30-36%> 36%
51-5526.5-31%31-37%> 37%
> 5627-32%32 – 37.5%> 37.5%

You may have noticed that the tolerable body fat percentage increases with age. What is this related to?


Our bodies change with age, and we store more fat.


The good news is that our body fat percentage increases as we age. But we’ll keep the six-pack – assuming the corresponding (higher) body fat percentage.


Why is that?


Our body stores fat in several ways:


  •       Subcutaneous fat(“subcutaneous fat” ): Fat stored just under the skin.
  •       VisceralFat: Fat coats our internal organs, especially those of our digestive tract.
  •       Structural and muscle fat: Serves for mechanical protection (e.g., on the soles of the feet, joints, buttocks, …) or is stored directly in the muscle – like an “overgrown” steak.


One of these three types of fat has a particularly positive (or negative) impact on our appearance: the subcutaneous fatty tissue.


As we age, the other two types of body fat naturally increase. The subcutaneous fatty tissue serves to store “superfluous” energy for bad times – we can very well do without that nowadays.



Product recommendation: Body Fat Caliper

Caliper pliers are available in all price ranges from under 10 to over 300 USD. At the upper end of the spectrum, you will find the professional device from MEDca, which is used in doctors’ surgeries, among other places. I own such a model but don’t worry. You don’t need it.


I have had mixed experiences with cheap calipers under $7-$15. Often they do not allow an exact measurement, and determining body fat becomes like reading coffee grounds. Frustrating.


Body Fat Caliper


I recommend the Body Fat Calipers from MEDca for home use for less than $8. Other models don’t necessarily have to be worse, but you don’t take any risks with this model.


Your Ideal Body Fat Percentage


Ideal Body Fat Percentage – Conclusion

Before setting yourself a specific, realistic, and achievable body fat goal, you should take stock of the actual situation and measure your current body fat percentage.


If you’re a stickler, you already know how to set goals and create frameworks that make your success inevitable. If not, you can register here for my recommended fitness program online.


The simplest and most accurate method at home is the measurement with calipers and 3-point or 5-point measurement, according to Jackson & Pollock. The 5-point measurement is somewhat more accurate, but the 3-point measurement is completely sufficient for our purposes. 


You can get good calipers for less than $20.


Based on the Jackson & Pollock evaluation, you can set a realistic goal – your ideal body fat percentage. To reveal your six-pack, your final goal should be up to 12% (as a man) or 18% (as a woman).


Lose 6 Months of Flab in Only 14 Days… 

“Photoshoot Preparation Diet Plan”

Forces Your Body to Burn Body Fat as Quickly as Physically Possible