Statistics show that one out of every three people in the United States is obese. When you are overweight, you are at an increased risk of developing heart disease and cancer. So being obese means you need to tweak your lifestyle and lose some weight. Working out in the gym and sticking to a balanced diet really help make a difference, but you can create a better workout routine when you know your body fat percentage. You also need to know the answer to the question, "What should my body fat percentage be as per your age?" Let's find out what body fat percentage is and why it is important to have more information about it.

What Should My Body Fat Percentage Be?

In order to improve your physical health, you need to know your body fat percentage. If it is too high, you will have to take drastic steps to avoid dealing with any complications. Your body stores fat for energy. The storage of fat goes up when you eat more calories than what your body needs to function properly. Your body stores those excess calories in the form of fat, which eventually affect your body fat percentage.

It is important to understand that fat can be of two types – essential body fat and nonessential body fat. Your body cannot function without enough essential body fat because it helps regulate body temperature, works as cushioning of the internal organs, and provides energy during illness.

The percentage of essential body fat should be around 10-12% for women and 2-4% for men. Anything below this can lead to serious health complications. Anything above this percentage is nonessential body fat that increases your risk of developing several health problems, including hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and hyperlipidemia.

The fat free mass is actually an important functional and structural component of your body and consists of protein (21%), water (72%), and bone minerals (7%). Fat mass, on the other hand, varies greatly between individuals but usually consists of dispose tissue (80%) and water (20%). You are considered a healthy man if your body fat percentage is around 14-20% - anything over 25% can cause complications. Women should have a body fat percentage between 17% and 24%, and never let it go past 30%.

Here is a chart from the American Council on Exercise to help you answer, "What should my body fat percentage be?"
















Essential Fat



How to Calculate Body Fat Percentage

You can make a better exercise and diet plan when you know your body fat percentage. Here is how you can calculate it:

Weight Yourself

Start by knowing what your exact body weight is. Keep in mind that different scales can give different results. What time of day you choose to weigh yourself may also affect the results. The best thing is to use the same scale for several days to get an average of your body weight.


Know Your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Dividing your weight (in pounds) by your height (in inches squared)and then multiplying it with 703 tells you what your BMI is. For instance, the BMI of a 150-pound person with a height of 65 inches is 24.96. The formula is: 150/(65)² x703 = 24.96.


Calculate Your Body Fat Percentage

Adults can check body fat percentage through skin-fold measurements and bioelectrical tests using specific formulas. You need to know your BMI to be able to use these formulas.

Women can calculate body fat percentage by using the formula:

  • 1.20 x body mass index + 0.23 x your age – 5.4

Men can calculate body fat percentage by using the formula:

  •  1.20 x body mass index + 0.23 x your age – 16.2

Or you can directly click HERE to calculate it.

How to Lower Your Body Fat

Knowing the answer to the question, "What should my body fat percentage be?" will lead to another question, which is about the best ways to lower your body fat. Here is what you can do about it.

Have an Active Lifestyle

Workouts certainly help burn calories and lower your body fat, but you need to change your lifestyle to maximize your efforts. You can consider joining a recreational sports league to stay active, start a running club with friends, arrange a hiking trip, or try other ways to add more activity to your life. Simple changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking instead of using your car can make a big difference.

Try Weight Training

The idea is to build muscle to burn more fat. The more muscles you have, the easier it is for your body to burn fat. You can try multi-joint or compound exercises for the best results. Some of the best options include upright rows, bench presses, deadlifts, squats, and bent-over rows.


HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. You can apply this to stair climbing, cycling, running, elliptical training, rowing, or any other form of cardio. Start with a 5-minute warm-up and then keep changing your intensity levels for a short time. Spend five minutes to cool off your body after the workout.

Include Cinnamon in Your Diet

Make a cinnamon tea and drink it in the morning to help lower your body fat percentage. It is especially beneficial if you are trying to get rid of belly fat. You may also consider including other spices in your diet to lower weight – spices contain capsaicin that boosts your metabolism and burns fat.

Be Careful When Eating Out

It is better to cook your own meals but you can still make smart choices when eating out. Check the menu carefully and inquire about the way certain dishes have been prepared. The safest idea is to go with foods that are broiled, boiled, steamed, or baked. Opt for entrees that include veggies instead of fries. Avoid anything with cheese, butter, cream sauces, etc.

Eat in Moderation

Even when you really have to indulge, do it smartly. It means you can eat dark chocolate and enjoy red wine, but you really have to consume in moderation. Since they contain antioxidants called catechins, they really help burn fat. Berries, green teas, and apples are also some good sources of beneficial antioxidants.

Increase Your Water Intake

Instead of high-calorie beverages, drink as much water as you can. Your diet should be free of any artificially sweetened juices, desert coffees, sweet tea, soda, and alcohol. Drink more water to keep your body hydrated. A glass of water enjoyed about half an hour before a meal helps lower your appetite and keep you from overeating.


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