How To Calculate Your Body Fat

Losing body fat is probably one of the top concerns people at various stages in life often encounter as more and more people become conscious with staying fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

But what exactly is the right amount of body fat? What is the ideal body fat percentage for each body type? And do you know that women have substantially higher body fat than men due to hormones and childbearing?

There are many ways to calculate body fat including using your body mass index (BMI), underwater weighing, and the skinfold test, but the easiest way to get a rough estimate of your body fat percentage is by using a body fat calculator.

Body Fat Calculator

This calculator is intended to provide general information. If you require professional assistance regarding your body fat, please consult to a specialist.

To Use the Calculator

You’ll be needing your waist size, weight, and the measurements of your forearm, wrist and hip to calculate your body fat percentage for women, while only the weight and waist size for men. 

To start, decide on the unit that you will use across your measurements — is it in cm? Inches? For your weight, would you use kilograms (kgs) or pounds (lbs)?

  • Weight: just weigh yourself on a weighing scale, preferable in the morning before eating anything and without clothes on if possible to get the most accurate weight measurement.
  • Waist: using a measuring tape, measure the narrowest part of your torso. The measuring tape shouldn’t be too tight and should just hold your waist snugly. 
  • Wrist: for women only. Wrap the same measuring tape around the fullest part of your wrist.
  • Hip: for women only. Using a measuring tape, measure the widest point below your waist. To get the most accurate result, remove your clothing to get the closest measurement.
  • Forearm: for women only. Using a measuring tape, measure the thickest area of your arm closest to the elbow.
     
    Once you’ve gathered these measurements, simply input the right measurement where needed and decide on the unit of measurement to use. 

Formulas Used To Calculate 

The body fat calculator combines the formula for lean body mass for men (weight * 1.082) + 94.42 – Waist * 4.15) and women (weight * 0.732) + 8.987 + wrist / 3.140 – waist * 0.157 – hip * 0.249 + forearm * 0.434).

Then, using the lean body mass measurement, you’ll now be able to compute for your body fat (body fat = weight – lean body mass).

To calculate your body fat percentage, you could also just divide your body fat weight over your weight — but make sure that the measurements have similar units. 

Different Ways To Calculate Body Fat

Aside from using the body fat calculator (as provided above above), you can also measure your body fat using the following methods:

  • Skinfold technique: the skinfold technique is conducted using a caliper to help pinch various parts of your body like chest, abdomen and thigh (for men) and triceps, hip, and thigh (for women).

    Then, mark the area one centimeter above the skinfold and measure the thickness of the fat layer. You can redo the measurement and average the results to get a more accurate figure. Consult a body fat chart to figure out your body fat percentage. 
  • Tape measure method: one of the most basic ways to measure your body fat is using a good old measuring tape to measure different parts of your body.

    For men, measure the circumference of your neck and abdomen in inches, then subtract the measurement of your neck from your abdomen.

    For women, measure the circumference of your neck, waist and hips. Then, add your waist and hip measurement and subtract the neck measurement to get the value.
  • Body fat scale: almost like your regular weighing scale, there are also available body fat scales that you can purchase to easily measure your body fat. These body fat scales use a technology called bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to estimate your body fat.
  • Hydrostatic weight or underwater weighing: this is a type of weighing where the individual is asked to sit on a chair submerged in water. The weight underwater or body density is said to create a buoyant counterforce on the water and displace it. The resulting body density measurement is then used to measure the body fat.

    This method, although expensive and tedious, is often believed to be one of the most accurate methods to measure body fat.
  • Using your BMI: using a person’s body mass index is also another technique used to determine body fat although this is often said to be not as accurate as the other methods since different people could have different body fat levels even if they have the same BMI.

    Check here to know if you’re overweight and to calculate your BMI.

Remember: using the techniques recommended above, or even an online body fat calculator doesn’t replace a visit to a physician to get the proper measurements done. Consider the results provided as a rough estimate only to give you an idea about your body fat level.

Body Fat Percentage Chart

Once you’ve measured your body fat, it’s now time to see whether your body fat is “ideal,” above average or lacking. See classifications below according to the American Council on Exercise.

If your body fat measurement is below 31% for women and 24% for men, that means that your body fat is average. Anything that goes above the average would put you in the “obese” category which may increase your risk of developing diseases like diabetes, hypertension and high-cholesterol related illnesses.

CategoryMenWomen
Athlete6%-13%14%-20%
Fitness14%-17%21%-24%
Average18%-24%25%-31%
Obese25% up32% up

How To Increase/Decrease Body Fat

Lowering your body fat percentage doesn’t necessarily mean just losing weight the same way that increasing body fat means just eating and increasing your calorie intake.

Here are some guidelines to follow to help you increase or decrease body fat depending on your goal. Note, however, that the best way is to consult a dietician to help you plan accordingly based on your specific need.

  • Think of a long-term fitness journey: when you want to lose body fat, there’s no overnight way to do it. Start with minor exercises and do it consistently and gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your exercise depending on your need. 
  • Combine weight lifting and cardio: when you exercise, do both cardio exercises and lifting to maximize the amount of fat you’re burning.
  • Plan your meals and stick to it: there’s a saying that you are what you eat and it’s probably true especially when you don’t plan your diet and end up just loading on whatever food is available when you suddenly feel the urge to eat. Don’t deprive yourself — fat is still good, as long as you choose food with less saturated ones in your diet. 
  • Drink lots of water: drinking lots of water replenishes lost ones when you do exercises and keeps you hydrated. Drinking water also makes your stomach feel full thus controlling hunger. 
  • There is no such thing as a “miracle diet”: although there are many of these fad diets all over the internet, do not rely on just one of them to achieve your fitness goals. Be consistent about it. Eat the right food and combine it with exercise!

Do You Know

  • To effectively lose one to four pounds of weight in a week and maintain one’s new weight, researchers recommend a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories. It is also recommended to drink at least 2.5 liters per day.

    Click this link to calculate your calorie consumption to lose, gain or maintain weight
  • The ideal body fat percentage for women is a range anywhere between 13% to 31%, while for men, it’s considered healthy to have a body fat percentage of 5% to 24%.