Starting fitness journey often involves encountering the term “body fat percentage,” a crucial metric in the realm of health and wellness. But let’s ditch the confusion and get real about what it truly means.

In straightforward terms, body fat percentage (BFP) reflects the ratio of fat in your body compared to other elements like blood, bones, and water. There are two types considered: storage body fat and essential body fat, both contributing to the overall calculation.

Everyone is Different

Understanding body fat percentage is not a one-size-fits-all concept; it’s relative and varies based on factors like age, gender, physical activity, body type, and heredity. For instance, women generally need a higher body fat percentage for optimal health.

Before measuring your body fat percentage, let’s explore the recommended ranges. These age-specific guidelines indicate that acceptable body fat levels increase as you age. Why? The same measurement technique is used for the young and old, assuming that older individuals tend to have lower body density for the same skinfold measurements.


  • 20-40 yrs old: Underfat: under 21 percent, Healthy: 21-33 percent, Overweight: 33-39 percent, Obese: Over 39 percent
  • 41-60 yrs old: Underfat: under 23 percent, Healthy: 23-35 percent, Overweight : 35-40 percent Obese: over 40 percent

  • 61-79 yrs old: Underfat: under 24 percent, Healthy: 24-36 percent, Overweight: 36-42 percent, Obese: over 42 percent


  • 20-40 yrs old: Underfat: under 8 percent, Healthy: 8-19 percent, Overweight: 19-25 percent, Obese: over 25 percent
  • 41-60 yrs old: Underfat: under 11 percent, Healthy: 11-22 percent, Overweight: 22-27 percent, Obese: over 27 percent
  • 61-79 yrs old: Underfat: under 13 percent, Healthy: 13-25 percent, Overweight: 25-30 percent, Obese: over 30 percent

Physical activity is a crucial variable impacting healthy body fat guidelines. Highly active individuals typically require a greater percentage of “essential” body fat to sustain their energy expenditure.

The Real Number

Ready to assess your fitness progress? The traditional bathroom scale won’t cut it. Body composition analysis provides a more effective insight into your strengths and weaknesses, helping you set the right goals. Consider using a Skin Fold Caliper for a precise measurement of body fat thickness, or opt for the anthropometric method using body circumference measurements.

Knowledge is power in your fitness journey. Explore advanced assessments like Vo2max testing for cardio enthusiasts or resting metabolic rate (RMR) analysis to understand your metabolism. Consulting with health and fitness experts, like those at iAmLIFT, ensures a personalized plan to achieve your ideal body fat percentage. It’s time to take pride in living your best life!