If you’re aiming to lose body fat you’ll probably ask yourself what the ideal body fat percentage is.
Firstly however it’s important to understand a little about the role of fat in the body and why fat is a actually a good thing. I know that might sound strange in this day and age of the media constantly telling you fat is bad but the truth is fat is essential to your body and without this essential fat your body would not be able to function normally. Attempting to go below what’s known as your “essential fat” is not only bad for your health but extremely dangerous.
A typical human body has anywhere from 50 to 250 billion fat cells which are stored in many different areas throughout the body including the thighs, waste, buttocks, around your organs such as the kidneys and liver and even within muscle. Fat has many uses within the body including the insulation and protection of vital organs but the main purpose of fat is to store energy for future use. When your body needs energy it can break down the contents of fat cells using enzymes to release fatty acids into the bloodstream which can then be transported to any area of the body. Your body can then convert these fatty acids into a usable form of energy, adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Now that you know a bit about how fat is used in the body and why it’s important, with this frame of mind should you set your ideal body fat goal. Unsurprisingly there is no one ideal percent body fat for everyone but you can set a realistic goal for yourself by taking into account your age, gender, and body type. You should also determine whether you are aiming to be at an athletic level of body fat or just in a healthy range. The following are some charts indicating the ranges for body fat percentage in both men and women:
Body Fat Percentage Chart for Men
Body Fat Percentage Chart for Women
As you can see from the charts above, your ideal body fat percentage is very dependent on your age and gender. Another thing that’s evident from these charts is that the ranges for women and men are very different. Women naturally have more body fat than men and for good reason. Fat is vital for reproduction so in case of pregnancy fat stores are maintained on a woman’s body.
Lastly, it’s important to note that your ideal percent body fat is also very much dependent on how you feel and what level your individual body performs it’s best so do not think that lower is automatically better.