Fat is not an enemy of the body,it is essential for survival.It protects the internal organs in the body and supplies the required energy stores  when the body is under threat .However,the percentage of fat in the body should be low.

The acceptable amount of fat for women is between 25-31%  while that of men is between 18-25%.With this acceptable amount you will still be healthy and your appearance will just be normal(no six packs or sexy looks).

If you  want your appearance to be sexy ,you should be in the fitness category which is  between 21-24%  for women and 14-17% body fat for men.

Also,if you want to have the ripped body with defined muscle outlines(well highlighted six packs),this means you should be in the athletic category which is 14-20%  body fat for women and  6-13% body fat for men.

Below is the body fat percentage table according to American Council on Exercise.

Classification Women (% Fat) Men (% Fat)
Essential Fat 10-12% 2-4%
Athletes 14-20% 6-13%
Fitness 21-24% 14-17%
Acceptable 25-31% 18-25%
Obese 32%+ 25%+


You would have observed that the body fat percentage for women is always higher than that of men in all categories,this is because women have more  demands  like childbearing and other hormonal functions.


essential fat  is the storage fat that forms an essential part of the body and are needed for proper functioning of the body.It occurs in bone marrow, heart ,lungs, spleen, kidney,muscles and central nervous system.It is the minimum amount of fat required for survival.

It is dangerous to approach the essential fat level,in fact professional bodybuilders come down to this level only during competitions and it is increased back to a normal level after the contest.

There are different methods of knowing your body fat percentage.These are some of the methods;

  • Water displacement method:This method requires people to be submerged under water and weighed.The weight outside water and the weight inside water are then entered into equations to generate body fat percentage.
  • Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry ( DEXA)  scanning:In this method,the body is  scanned with low dose x-rays to give the body fat percentage and also body fat distribution analysis, so you can know how fat is distributed in various parts of your body.This method is totally safe and considered a gold standard measurement.
  • Bio-electric Impedance Analysis (BIA) :In this method , a small electrical current  is sent through the body and the resistance between the conductors in contact with the body  gives the body fat percentage, Muscle has high water content, and is highly conductive, while fat has lower water content and is not highly conductive.This is how fat scales and handheld BIA devices work.
  • Bod pod: This method requires the person to sit inside a pod then it  measures the volume of air the person displaced inside the pod, and then runs it through an equation to measure body fat percentage.
  • Body fat calipers: This involves the use of  calipers to measure the thickness of the  skin at certain points on your body. The measurements  are then entered into a formula that estimates your body fat percentage based on your age and gender.
  • Near Infrared Interactance:In this method,a low-energy beam of near-infrared light is transmitted through the biceps and energy is reflected or absorbed  to give the body fat percentage.


There is also a manual method that involves taking measurements and calculation.The procedure for men and women are different and they are both easy to calculate,just follow the steps.


Measurements needed are:

  •  Bodyweight in pounds
  •  Waist  in inches


STEP 1: Multiply your bodyweight by 1.082. Add the result to 94.42. let your answer be called ANSWER1

STEP 2: Multiply your waist girth by 4.15. Once you get this result, subtract it from ANSWER1.The result you get will be LEAN BODY WEIGHT. ANSWER1-(waist  x 4.15)

lean body weight means your weight assuming there’s no fat in your body.

STEP3:Subtract your lean bodyweight from your actual bodyweight (bodyweight-Lean Bodyweight). then multiply the result by 100 and divide everything by total bodyweight.This gives you the body fat percentage.

Body Fat percentage  =  ((Bodyweight – Lean Bodyweight) x 100) ÷  (your Body Weight)

Example: To calculate the body fat percentage of a man that weighs 190 and has  a 32 inch waist,

STEP1  = (190 x 1.082) + 94.42                                                                                       = 300

STEP2 = lean body weight                                                                                                 =   300 – (32 x 4.15)                                                                                     = 167.2

STEP3 = body fat percentage                                                                                            = ((190-167.2) x 100) ÷190                                                                                  =  12%


measurements needed are:

  • Measurement 1: Bodyweight in pounds
  • Measurement 2: Wrist Circumference  in inches (measured at the widest point).
  • Measurement 3: Waist Circumference in inches (measured at your umbilicus).
  • Measurement 4: Hip Circumference in inches (measured at the widest point).
  • Measurement 5: Forearm Circumference in inches (measured at the widest point).

STEP1Multiply your bodyweight by 0.732.Let your result be called                  ANSWER1

STEP2Add the result above to 8.987.                                                        ANSWER1 + 8.987= ANSWER2.

STEP3:Divide your wrist circumference by 3.14.                                               Wrist divided by 3.14 = ANSWER3

STEP4:Multiply your waist measurement by 0.157                                       Waist x 0.157 = ANSWER4.

STEP5: Multiply your hip measurement by 0.249.                                         Hip x 0.249 = ANSWER5.

STEP6: Multiply your forearm measurement by 0.434.                            Forearm x 0.434 = ANSWER6.


STEP8: Subtract ANSWER4 from ANSWER 7.                                       ANSWER7 – ANSWER4 = ANSWER8.

STEP9: Subtract ANSWER5 from ANSWER8.                             ANSWER8 – ANSWER5 = ANSWER9.

STEP10:Add ANSWER6 and ANSWER9. The result is your lean body mass (your fat free weight)                                                                                  ANSWER6 + ANSWER9 = Lean Body Mass.

STEP11: Subtract your lean body mass from your bodyweight,then multiply that number by 100. Once you get this result, divide it by your bodyweight.This gives the body fat percentage.                                       ((Bodyweight-Lean Body Mass) x 100) ÷ bodyweight.

Example: To calculate the body fat percentage of a woman that weighs 130, and has a wrist measurement of 6.0, a waist measurement of 26, a hip measurement of 40, and a forearm measurement of 9

STEP1: 125 x 0.732=95.16

STEP2: 95.16 + 8.987=104.147

STEP3: 6 ÷ 3.14=1.91

STEP4: 26 x 0.157 = 4.082

STEP5: 40 x 0.249 = 9.96

STEP6: 9 x 0.434 = 3.906

STEP7: 104.147+1.91 = 106.057

STEP8: 106.057- 4.082 = 101.975

STEP9: 101.975 – 9.96 = 92.015

STEP10: 3.906 + 92.015 = 95.921 = Lean Body Weight

STEP11:    ((130-95.921) x 100)  ÷ 130                                                                        = (34.079 x 100) ÷ 130                                                                                = 3407.9 ÷130                                                                                                      = 26.21%


While making the decision on which method to choose,you should consider the cost,time,stress,availability and most importantly the accuracy of the result .All these methods have pros and cons.

For instance,the water displacement method has high level accuracy but it makes some people uncomfortable because they have to be submerged inside water and this method takes more time compared to other methods.Even DEXA which is considered a gold standard test is not available in most places.Also BIA that is easily accessible,fast and affordable through the use of fat scales and hand held versions,might give certain errors due to hydration and temperature of the body.

The truth is that,there is no perfect method.However,the error margin of some methods are very low,so they give more accurate results.

I will advise that you focus more on exercises and a good meal plan rather than checking your body fat percentage because when most people realize the percentage of their body fat,it starts affecting them psychologically and they attach it to their self-worth.

If you ask me the method that i recommend,i will say something totally different,which is “LOOKING METHOD”.Yes,it means that you should look at your self and be honest,judging by the table of body fat classification i bet you already have an idea of the body fat present in your body.Just work towards a healthy life style.

Since the actual essence of checking your body fat  is for you to have an idea of your present state,you can check it on a fat scale and the best time to do this is in the morning after waking up.You should use the fat scale before eating,drinking and showering.Make sure that you check your body fat under the same conditions all the time,so that there would be consistency in your readings even if there is an error.

Remember that fat scales only give you an estimate,so if you check your body fat,don’t store the number in your head,free your mind and exercise more.


Babajide Adediran


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  1. Hi, I usually use the looking method and i notice that i have a disproportional body…is it possible for this to be corrected? thanks

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