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Body Fat: What Are Healthy Ranges and How Is It Measured?

body fat

Although Body Fat can be an indicator of your progress on your health journey, no measurement is a complete picture of your overall health.

We’re all different, and our individual relationships with our body and mind are often a better way to gain a real understanding of our overall physical and mental health.

However, charts, calculations and data can prove extremely useful for doctors and health professionals to access a standard definition of health. BMI and Body Fat Percentage are one way to assess your body composition and weight, whether you’re working towards your fitness goals, or making some positive changes in your diet and lifestyle.

What Is Body Fat?

There are actually a range of different fat types in your body; some are beneficial to your health, and others can have a negative effect. The main types of fat cells are white, brown and beige cells and can be stored as essential, subcutaneous or visceral fat. If you have a high quantity of visceral fat, this is referred to as being skinny fat.

Body Fat Percentage is used to calculate how much of a person’s total body weight consists of these body fat types. It essentially reveals a person’s total body fat mass compared to your muscle, organs, water and bone mass etc.

View our simple body fat infographic here to learn the most important information.

Body Fat Percentage: Healthy Ranges

A healthy range of Body Fat Percentage can vary depending on whether you are male or female. Other factors, such as whether you play sports can also determine your ideal Body Fat Percentage.

Healthy Body Fat Percentage for men

Generally, a fitness Body Fat Percentage range for men is between 14 to 17%. However, 17 to 25% is a healthy range. Depending on the sport, male athletes typically have a Body Fat Percentage of between 6 and 13%.

Healthy Body Fat Percentage for women

Women usually require more body fat than men. A fitness Body Fat Percentage for women is between 21 to 24%. However, 25 to 31% is considered a healthy range. Female athletes usually have a Body Fat Percentage of between 14 and 20%.

How Is Body Fat Percentage Measured?

Body Fat Percentage can be measured in several ways. Hi-tech options include dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), 3-D body scanners, hydrostatic weighing techniques and air displacement plethysmography.

Skinfold Calipers and tape measures can also be used to achieve a Body Fat Percentage calculation. For an accurate result, you may require a trained professional such as a certified trainer, GP or nurse to assist you with the process. It can also help to have the same person taking the measurements each time if you are monitoring your progress.

However, for a user-friendly option, body composition scales and BIA scales are the most efficient. These scales use bioelectrical impedance to measure body fat content. A safe electrical current passes through the body as you stand on the scale, and flows through the water, fat and muscle mass at different speeds. Using this information, the scale can then determine your body composition and provide a Body Fat Percentage reading.

Who Can Measure Body Fat Percentage?

Easy to operate, specialist gym and fitness Scales allow all gym users to measure their weight, Body Fat Percentage and BMI. They can often be found at gyms, fitness and health clubs, sports clubs, swimming pools and spas.

Our Marsden MBF-6000 Body Composition Scale with Printer is ideal for monitoring key data such as your Body Mass Index, Muscle Mass and Body Fat Percentage. This data can be used to create unique fitness goals for a range of sports professionals and amateur athletes at gyms, sports and swimming clubs. As a portable Class III Approved scale, the MBF-6000 can also be used by mobile physicians, nurses, personal trainers and physiotherapists.

The Marsden MBF-6010 is a Class III Approved body fat analyser able to provide a calculation of your body’s health based on several metrics including BMI, Fat Mass and Body Fat Percentage. These are widely used by athletes and healthcare professionals at hospitals, gyms and sports clubs.

The Charder MA601 is our most advanced body composition scales yet. This highly sophisticated BIA scale provides segmental body composition readings with a complete, colour coded results chart printed out for every user each time they use the scale.

Download our Body Fat Poster

To increase awareness of the ideal body fat percentage amongst your patients, we’ve created a new medical infographic poster. This eye-catching poster explains, in clear and simple terms, what's good and bad about body fat. The poster can be downloaded below and used in your surgery.

The poster also includes a guide to the ideal body fat percentage for men and for women.

Take a look at this free infographic to work out your ideal body fat %.

Further Reading

Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Body Fat Percentage.

Understand your measurements when using body composition scales with this complete breakdown and explanation of body composition readings.

Check out the typical body fat percentages of different athletes.