What is a Body Fat Calculator?
We all need essential fats for normal function since the body naturally stores it from the foods we eat and uses if for energy, insulation, and protection. The problem is that when there’s too much fat accumulation, it puts you at a higher risk of developing health problems. A body fat calculator is a great tool for identifying your body fat, and sounding an alarm if you need to take some action.
Calculating metrics like your Body Fat Percentage and Body Mass Index (BMI) can help you determine how much of your total body weight is comprised of fat so that you can set the right health and weight management goals.
And the body fat calculator is a more accurate measurement than BMI, which can be very misleading.
Calculate Your Fat % and Pounds of Body Fat
Notes on Different Calculation Formulas in the drop-down menu below:
1) Covert Bailey is the default and recommended calculation, and requires a body measuring tape.
2) The Jackson/Pollock calculations require a caliper.
3) The YMCA formulas require only a scale, but are not as accurate.
4) The Navy Tape Measurement calculation requires a body measuring tape, and uses the neck and abdomen (in addition to height and weight) for the calculation.
What Is Body Fat Percentage?
Body fat percentage is your percentage of body fat composition:
- 200 lb man with 20% body fat = 40 pounds of body fat
- 100 lb woman with 15% body fat = 15 pounds of body fat
- 250 lb bodybuilder with 7% body fat = 17.5 pounds of body fat
Body Fat Percentage Ranges
Here are the ranges based on the calculation above:
Body Fat Percentage for Men
- Essential: 4-6% body fat
- Athlete: 7-10% body fat
- Fit: 11-16% body fat
- Normal: 17-25% body fat
- Obese/Overweight: 26% and above body fat
Body Fat Percentage for Women
- Essential: 10-12% body fat
- Athlete: 13-20% body fat
- Fit: 21-24% body fat
- Normal: 25-31% body fat
- Obese/Overweight: 32% and above body fat
Fit Range | Where You Want to Be
The Fit range is a realistic, sustainable goal for most people living a normal working life, but who are not trained athletes. It still takes a consistent fitness routine with a healthy diet, but it is very achievable.
- Fit Men: 11-16% Body Fat
- Fit Women: 21-24% Body Fat
Now you most likely don’t fall under the essential category. That small percentage of body fat is ideal for bodybuilders who actually go on stage and display the results of their hard work in the gym. Even athletes don’t get as low as 4 to 6% (males) or 10 to 12% (females) body fat! That is generally not a sustainable, everyday body fat percentage that anyone should really aspire to unless you are a competitive bodybuilder.
For most people who are not high-level athletes, an ideal goal to aspire to is the “fit” range. This can be achieved by most people eating a clean, healthy diet, and with a consistent exercise plan. And more importantly, it is a sustainable body fat percentage over the long term. It will help you to look your best, while at the same time providing a healthy, energetic life!
Different Ways To Calculate Body Fat
It’s only natural for someone who wants to improve their overall body composition to want measurable results on their progress, and there are a number of ways to calculate body fat.
This is the most convenient method, and perfectly acceptable for most people. This is the method used in the above body fat calculator. You can calculate and record the circumference of your neck, abdomen, waist, forearm, and hips by using a tape measure that is specifically marketed for measuring body fat percentage.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computerized Tomography (CT) Scans
While very expensive, these two are the most accurate methods of determining your body fat percentage because these machines take cross-sectional images of your body to measure intra-abdominal fat.
Known as hydrodensitometry, this method is considered the Gold Standard for measuring body fat percentage because it’s highly accurate by 1% of body fat. (1)
This method uses a tool called calipers to measure body fat by pinching different areas of your body. For best results, the tree-site approach recommends that men should measure chest, abdominals, and thigh fat, while women measure fat at your triceps, and an inch above the hip bone area.
Why Body Fat Calculator Is More Accurate Than BMI
Your BMI, or body mass index, is a measurement that considers only your height and your weight. BMI gets off track and becomes inaccurate if you have a muscular frame, or are a large-bone person. You might have a 5′ 6″ male bodybuilder who weighs 200 lb with 8% body fat, but his BMI would indicate that he is substantially overweight with a BMI over 32. So that is why the body fat calculator is much more accurate, because it is not measured on only 2 data points. (3)
Looking in a mirror or weighing yourself cannot accurately indicate how much fat you have, which is why you need to use the above-mentioned tests to determine your overall body fat percentage.
More Information on Your Measurements
Simply put, your body fat calculator measures the percentage of your total body weight that is fat. But you must understand that you can’t have zero body fat. Fat is still important for you to live, move and function. Even the leanest bodybuilders and athletes still have a percentage of fat in their body. It’s essential for life! (4)
It is also important for you to know that body fat percentage is different from your body mass index or BMI. While body fat percentage can be calculated using your body size measurements, BMI is derived solely from your height and weight.
The Pros and Cons of Using a Body Fat Calculator
There are other ways to measure body fat percentage, such as a skin caliper or going to a physician or health professional. However, many opt for body fat calculators as shown above, as it gives them the figures automatically and very easily.
Of course, there are pros and cons to simple body fat calculators like the one above:
- You simply need a measuring tape to measure and enter the data into a body fat calculator.
- You can quickly assess your overall fat percentage and fitness level.
- You have a general idea if you should take action when the fat percentage seems to be alarmingly high.
- You are getting a reasonably accurate measurement of your body fat percentage using a body fat percentage calculator. There are more scientific ways to calculate body fat percentage if you are looking for an extremely accurate measurement.
There’s nothing that exists, not even doctors, blood tests, and the like that can provide you with 100% accurate body fat percentage. If what you’re aiming for is a leaner and stronger body, then getting these estimates should be more than enough to assess your starting point, and then develop that data over time to check your progress.
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- Hydrodensitometry. Hydrodensitometry – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.).
- Kyle UG;Genton L;Karsegard L;Slosman DO;Pichard C; (n.d.). Single prediction equation for bioelectrical impedance analysis in adults aged 20–94 years. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11312069/#:~:text=Because%20correlations%20were%20high%20(r,1%2C%20women%20%3D%200).
- MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Why BMI is inaccurate and misleading. Medical News Today.
The functions of fats in the body. Eufic. (n.d.).