24 November, 2023

How To Lower Body Fat Percentage

When trying to lose weight, we hear a lot about body mass index levels (BMI) and body fat percentages. Your BMI is a quick calculation that can place you in a category according to your weight, height, gender, etc. that classifies you in relation to your health. Individuals who have higher BMI numbers are typically significantly more unhealthy than those with lower BMI numbers.

The flaw with these BMI numbers is that they are determined with a simple calculation that does not take muscle mass or other elements into consideration. A much better measurement of how healthy an individual is can be found in their body fat percentage.

Today, we are going to talk about body fat percentage, what it is, how it is calculated, and how to ensure that yours is within healthy limits.

What Exactly Is Body Fat Percentage?

We need fat in the same way that we need any other nutrient for the human body to properly function. The issue is that since fat is only burned through routine exercise, the body stores it for later use.

Body fat percentage, or BFP, is simply the proportion of body fat; it indicates what portion of your weight is made up of fat as compared to lean muscle. It helps doctors get a more accurate picture of their patients’ potential for developing health issues linked to their excess weight.

A person’s body fat percentage is a more accurate reflection of their true body makeup than their actual weight, which can tell you a lot about their health. Doctors use this information to create a plan of care to help the patient become healthier.

What Is a Healthy Body Fat Percentage?

A sufficient amount of essential body fat is required for a number of functions, including insulation, the protection of internal organs, the storage of vitamins, and the management of hormones. It is also necessary for women to support a healthy pregnancy.

While a certain percentage of body fat is necessary, having a higher percentage of body fat is associated with an increased risk of obesity-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, gallstones, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, heart disease, breathing problems, sleep apnea, and others. You don’t want it too high, but you also don’t want it too low.

From a physiological standpoint, women require a higher percentage of essential body fat than men do. As a result, women need slightly more bodily fat to maintain their health. Age is also associated with variations in body fat.

Healthy Body Fat Percentage – Women
Age Range Healthy Body Fat Percentage Range
20 to 39 21 to 32 percent
40 to 59 23 to 33 percent
60 to 79 24 to 35 percent
Healthy Body Fat Percentage – Men
Age Range Healthy Body Fat Percentage Range
20 to 39 8 to 19 percent
40 to 59 11 to 21 percent
60 to 79 13 to 24 percent

How Can You Best Calculate Percentage Of Body Fat?

There are several different methods used to determine body fat percentage levels, however, some like the ones you can do at home are more like “guesstimates”.

Some of the quick ways you can get a ballpark idea of your body fat percentage without using any special equipment include the following:

Caliper Test
Skinfold calipers are a cost-effective method for measuring body fat. They are particularly useful for measuring body fat levels when other methods, which require expensive equipment or specialized training, are not available.

These portable instruments squeeze and assess the depth of subcutaneous (under the skin) fat in a variety of body regions, but generally, skinfold measurements are taken from seven areas of the body. Then, the measurements are used in the following equation:

Body Fat Percentage = (27 x the sum of skinfold measurement locations) divided by bodyweight (lb.).

The CM Method
The circumference measurement (CM) is another method for measuring body fat that requires no special equipment. It is considered a sufficiently accurate measurement and is used by the Department of Defense to ascertain the body fat percentage of service members.

This method utilizes a tape measure to measure different locations on the body, which will vary by gender. Then, these measurements are placed into an equation to calculate the body fat percentage. To get the most accurate readings, measure each location 3 times using a measuring tape that is not stretchy, but don’t pull it tight enough to indent the skin. Round to the nearest half inch.

  • Neck: Put the measuring tape just below the voice box (round up to the nearest half inch).
  • Waist: Wrap the measuring tape around the natural waistline and round down to the nearest half inch.
  • Hips: Wrap the measuring tape around the largest point of the hips and round to the nearest half inch.

This equation is used for women.

% body fat = 163.205 x log10 (waist + hip + neck) – 97.684 x log10 (height) – 78.387

  • Neck: Put the measuring tape just below the voice box (round up to the nearest half inch).
  • Waist: Wrap the measuring tape around the waist at the navel and round down to the nearest half inch.

This equation is used for men.

% body fat = 86.010 x log10 (abdomen–neck) – 70.041 x log10 (height) + 36.76

This method is not difficult, but obtaining accurate results requires precise measurements.

Body Fat Percentage Tests That Require Special Equipment

In a DEXA scan or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, the body is imaged while X-ray photon absorbance is measured.
Hydrostatic Or Displacement Method
A method of determining the percentage of body fat by measuring displaced water caused by an individual being submerged in water.
Bod Pod
Uses air displacement plethysmography, which is similar to the water displacement method but is quick, less invasive, and more comfortable. This method can also accommodate many different individuals, from children to disabled people.
MRI and CT scans
Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans—can accurately measure body fat composition, but they are expensive and not easily accessible to most people.
BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis)
An electrical current is sent throughout the body and compares the body fat percentage to the amount of muscle mass.

Keep These Facts In Mind As You Lower Your Body Fat Percentage

  1. Body fat can be divided into two categories: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Most of the fat in your body is subcutaneous fat, which is found just under your skin. Visceral fat tends to collect in the abdominal region and can be found in areas surrounding the vital organs;
  2. Both types of fat are usually responsive to diet and exercise, but visceral fat is often the first type you will lose. This is a good thing because visceral fat is often called “the bad fat” as it is associated with insulin resistance, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and some cancers;
  3. If your body fat percentage is above the healthy range and you are not pregnant, it would be beneficial for you to start a program to lower your body fat to improve your health, particularly if you also have high triglyceride and cholesterol levels;
  4. Reducing your percentage of body fat is often not driven just through diet and exercise, so it can be difficult to determine which strategies will be most successful for you. Studies have indicated that successful methods used to lower body fat percentages can vary from person to person, and what works for one individual may not work for another;
  5. It’s essential to keep in mind that reducing your percentage of body fat and general weight loss are two separate things. When you step on a scale, the number reflected is a total combination of your body fat, muscle mass, organs, blood, and bones. The goal is to reduce your body fat percentage and build muscle so your fat-burning capacity increases. Muscle mass weighs more than fat mass, so if you feel your pants are looser but the numbers on the scale have not moved, do not worry. You have replaced fat with muscle and are on the right track;
  6. Weight loss that is achieved gradually leads to a greater decrease in your body fat percentage. Losing 0.5 percent of total body fat per week or 2 percent of body fat per month is generally considered healthy. (1-2 pounds per week)

The Benefits Of Attaining A Normal Body Fat Percentage (BFP)

Lowering your BFP is beneficial to your health in numerous ways. The most significant is that it reduces the amount of visceral fat that may be present and affecting your health. Some of the benefits of aligning your BPF into a healthy range include the following:

  • Improves your endurance level and physical fitness;
  • Alleviates pressure and pain in the joints;
  • Reduces the danger of experiencing heart disease;
  • Decreases the pressure on the arteries;
  • Reduces the probability of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cancer;
  • Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure level, reduces your “bad” cholesterol, and boosts your “good” cholesterol.

5 Tips For How To Lower Body Fat Percentage

There are different ways to reduce the percentage of body fat you have on your body. In a nutshell, as you lose weight, you will shed body fat. Here are a few elements you can include in your weight loss program that will help you reduce your body fat percentage.

  1. Change what you eat based on how many calories you burn every day to keep a safe and effective calorie deficit. In reality, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you ingest daily to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week;
  2. Consume a lot of water. In addition to being a natural appetite suppressant, water aids in the correct metabolism of accumulated fat;
  3. Make sure you include strength training and some cardio in your weekly workouts. Building more lean muscle will increase your resting metabolic rate. You can work with free weights, weight machines at the gym, or resistance bands;
  4. If you find you are hitting a plateau, change up your routine or try a different form of exercise. If you join a fitness class or partner up with a weight loss buddy, it can help keep you motivated;
  5. Make sure you have set for yourself some short-term goals that are realistic. Meeting goals is rewarding and will help keep you on track.

Consider Working With A Professional

If you have tried to reach a healthy body fat percentage but have not been making much progress, you may need help from a professional. Sometimes, medical intervention is necessary to promote weight loss, as many individuals have underlying issues that inhibit their weight loss attempts.

A doctor who understands the complexities that are associated with obesity can create a program that is customized with your circumstances in mind. Underlying conditions can be identified, and then elements will be put into the plan that will address them so your efforts will finally produce weight loss.

An obesity specialist like Dr. Okeefe Simmons can also provide help in the form of a non-surgical weight loss procedure that alleviates some of the hardest parts of losing weight. Both the Orbera gastric balloon and the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty procedures help you control your meal portions and keep you feeling full longer.

Prescription weight loss medication can also help some patients with appetite suppression and boost their metabolism so they can lose a significant amount of weight. Sometimes, a non-surgical weight loss procedure is combined with prescription weight loss medication for optimal results.

Having the personal guidance of a team of weight loss experts provides a level of support that can make all the difference in you reaching your weight loss goals. Contact Simmons MD Advanced Weight Loss Solutions today and let us help you lose weight and reach your ideal body fat percentage. A consultation is just one click away!

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