Why do we need to know what our body fat percentage is?
What is yours?
Does it matter?
In terms of your overall health, your body fat percentage is probably one of the most important numbers available to you. It tells you exactly how much of your body weight is made up of fat. This reading tells you a lot more about your health than your BMI (Body Mass Index) and body weight ever can.
If you have always had an interest in your health and have opted to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle your body fat percentage can help you in many different ways.
#1 It Tells You What Your Weight is Made Up Of
Most people have always only been concerned with their body weight. Your body weight can actually tell you very little about your overall health an well being. Two people can weigh exactly the same but have totally different body compositions, body types and health risks. Your body fat percentage can tell you a lot more.
Have a look at the examples below taken from the InBody USA website. Three people all the same weight and height approximately 154 pounds.
Bill has a body weight of 154 pounds and a body fat percentage of 28.3%. Notice the large difference between the bars for Body Fat Mass and SMM (Skeletal Muscle Mass). Bill's weight is within the normal range but he has a large difference between body fat mass and skeletal muscle mass. This places Bill into a category of people called "skinny fat."
Ted has a nearly identical weight to Bill but with a body fat percentage of 15.6%. He has a lot more muscle than Bill.
Brian weighs in at 154.8 and has a body fat percentage of 10.1%. His body fat mass bar is a lot shorter than his SMM which is completely opposite to Bill's who was skinny fat. We could look at skinny fat Bill and muscular Brian and the chances are not high that you would guess their weights to be the same. Your regular scale cannot reveal this difference in body composition to you.
Of the three examples above, skinny fat Bill is the most at risk of chronic disease and other health issues. Being skinny makes him far more likely to slip under the radar of disease detection.
Your body fat percentage helps you understand what your weight means and whether you need to make any changes to your diet and lifestyle to improve your composition, reduce your health risks and improve your overall health condition.
#2 It Tells You Where to Focus Your Attention
Your body fat percentage tells you what area of your diet and lifestyle needs focus. Do you need to increase your lean body mass or decrease your fat mass?
Body fat percentages vary from person to person and ideals differ greatly, a body builder and athlete have very different focus areas. The ranges below can be used as a guideline to give you an indication of where you stand and they can differ slightly from source to source.
A muscle building and bulking up program is not always recommended for someone who needs to lose weight. For a skinny fat, the opposite may apply, Bill can probably see the quickest changes in his body composition by building muscle and not necessarily losing fat.
#3 It Helps Reduce the Risk of Chronic Disease
Your body fat percentage gives you an indication of your overall health risks and keeping it within the recommended range can help you reduce your risk of developing chronic disease.
"Heart disease is most often caused by a buildup of plaque on the walls of your arteries. This occurs when small pieces of cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) damage your arteries, causing them to harden, forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body.
What does body fat have to do with your heart? Quite a lot, actually.
According to new research published by the Mayo Clinic, having a healthy body fat percentage has a significant effect on your cholesterol levels – increasing the good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) which helps to remove the damaging LDL and lower overall total cholesterol. This means less artery-clogging cholesterol in your bloodstream, which means less stress on your heart." - InBodyUSA
Determine Your Fat Percentage
One of the best things about determining your fat percentage is that it gives you a measure that you can use to assess your own health and track the progress and improvements that you are making.
It is not about how much you weigh, what is that weight made up of? Take the first step towards a healthier diet and lifestyle - get your body composition measured.