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Body fat percentage calculator: Do you need to start burning fat?

What is the role of human body fat?

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Also known by its scientific name “adipose tissue,” body fat is an essential component of the human body and plays an important role in the maintenance of the proper functioning of the body. You may find this surprising as it is not that visible, but even professional sportspeople have it. If you want to achieve your perfect weight, you should accept the fact that you need an amount of adipose tissue and as well do away with the stereotype that fat makes your figure appear unattractive and unhealthy. That said, having too much fat can really be a problem. If you want to figure out how much fat is normal for your body, the body fat percentage calculator that follows may be very useful for you.

First things first, you need to understand why you need body fat at all and what functions it performs.

Functions of body fat:

  • It stores energy. For example, 10-15 kilograms of adipose tissue can provide energy for 2-3 months. However, too much deposited energy in a form of fat is associated with obesity, that is, excess fat.
  • Helps the immune system and can help you prevent infection.
  • Due to its thermal insulation effect, it can regulate the body temperature, protecting it from extreme heat or cold.
  • Fat stores fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, thus preventing vitamin deficiency.
  • Protects the organs from persistent organic pollutants.
  • It reduces the risk of bone fractures and reduces the mechanical pressure on the legs, toes, and heels in particular.
  • Body fat boosts the production of sex hormones, contributing to one’s fertility. In particular, it stimulates the production of estrogen.

Despite its many essential functions, it is crucial to control your fat percentage and weight. You can use this body fat percentage calculator to keep from being obese, which entails several severe health problems. Everything is good in moderation, so too much or too little adipose tissue can have an egregious impact on your psychological and physical well-being. Considering this we can understand that it is important to measure its thickness using a body fat percentage calculator.

What is body fat percentage?

The body fat percentage is one of the many ways you can determine whether your weight is healthy or not. Many experts claim that this is more reliable than the well-known BMI. Its major advantage over BMI is that it distinguishes between the fat and muscle mass. The BMI does not take this aspect into consideration, which might be often confusing as even athletic people could be considered overweight by BMI due to their great muscle mass.

So, basically body fat percentage measurements show how much fatty tissue you have in comparison to your bone and muscle mass, all of which constitute your body composition. There are several different formulas designed to gauge the part of the adipose tissue that is in your body composition.

How to measure body fat?

While hydrostatic weighing and other advanced instruments are not affordable for the average person, the body caliper is. This tool is quite effective at helping you measure adipose tissue and enabling you to accurately calculate your body fat percentage. All you need to do is to pinch your skinfold in a certain area and apply the caliper to it. Some might find it rather challenging to do, which is why it might be helpful to engage your family, friends, or trainer in the measurement process. This is a way you can be able to measure your skinfold thickness faster and more accurately.

Here is a step-by-step instruction on how to measure the thickness of your skinfold:

  1. Identify the exact location of the skinfold before applying the caliper to it. You might also mark the area with an eyebrow pencil.
  2. Pull the skinfold with your thumb and index finger and hold it firmly.
  3. With your other hand take the caliper and hold it perpendicular to the
  4. A couple of seconds after releasing the trigger, look at the dial.
  5. Repeat these actions for each skinfold you have planned to measure. However, you should do this by at least 15-second intervals to let the fat readjust.

In general, the key part of the skinfold method is based on the fact that half of the total adipose tissue is stored beneath the skin. For the measurement to be precise and reliable, perform it regularly. You should also avoid measuring your skinfold thickness after a workout, as it is likely to show incorrect results because there will be a transfer of fluid to the skin.

Accurate body fat percentage calculator variations for women and men

Measuring a skinfold alone is not enough to calculate the adipose tissue percentage. You need to use this index in corresponding formulas. Several formulas serve this need, so choose the one you like the most and then go ahead and calculate to find out whether or not the amount of your body fat is within the normal range.

The Jackson and Pollock Formula

For this formula, you will have to measure the skinfold in three areas of your body. These areas are different between the bodies of women and men.

If you are a woman, follow these instructions:

  1. Pinch a skinfold on your triceps. If you are not able to do this on your own, ask someone to give you a hand here. The perfect spot for the skinfold is at the midpoint of your upper arm. It is better to fold your skin vertically here (arm is hanging down).
  2. The next spot that you need to measure is for your suprailiac skinfold. It is found at the lower part of your stomach, just at the top of     your hip bone. Apply the caliper diagonally in this area.
  3. The third area that you must measure is on your thigh, somewhere at the midpoint between your hip and knee. Pull the skin in that area, applying the vertical fold (you are standing).
  4. Enter the measurements into this formula:

1.0994921 – (0.0009929 x the sum of the triceps, thigh, and suprailiac skinfolds in mm) + (0.0000023 x the square of the sum of the triceps, thigh, and suprailiac skinfolds in mm) – (0.0001392 x your age) = body density.

To convert the result into a percentage, use the following formula:

[(4.95/body density) – 4.5] x 100 = body fat percentage.

If you are a man, do the following:

  1. Measure your chest skinfold. Apply the caliper to the mid-point between your armpit crease and nipple. Pinch the skinfold diagonally.
  2. Pinch the skin right near your belly button. Here, you can fold the skin either vertically or horizontally, depending on which is more convenient for you.
  3. Measure your thigh skinfold. The perfect spot for this is at the midpoint between your thigh and knee. The vertical fold is the best option here (you are standing).
  4. Enter the measurements into this formula:

1.10938 – (0.0008267 x the sum of the chest, abdomen, and thigh skinfolds in mm) + (0.0000016 x the square of the sum of the chest, abdomen, and thigh skinfolds in mm) – (0.0002574 x your age) = body density.

To convert the result into a percentage, use the following formula:

[(4.95/body density) – 4.5] x 100 = body fat percentage.

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The YMCA Formula

This formula doesn’t require your skinfold measurements, all you need to know is your weight and your waist size.

Formula for women:

– 76.76 + 4.15 x waist size – 0.082 x weight / weight

Formula for men:

– 98.42 + 4.15 x waist size – 0.082 x weight / weight

Using BMI

Although BMI on its own is not the most credible body fat percentage calculator, it still can be used to measure the amount of adipose tissue. To calculate the BMI, you need to use your height and weight measurements:

weight in kg / height in m2

703 x weight in lbs / height in in2

In the table below, you can see 4 weight categories and the corresponding indexes. Based on this table you can conclude whether your weight is normal or not, but the result will not be able to say whether or not you have excess fat.

Underweight <18.5
Normal weight 18.5–24.9
Overweight 25–29.9
Obese 30 and more

The next step in measuring your body fat percentage is to enter your BMI into the following formula:

For women:

(1.39 x BMI) + (0.16 x age) – (10.34 x 0) – 9

For men:

(1.39 x BMI) + (0.16 x age) – (10.34 x 1) – 9

Although this formula is rather convenient and requires fewer measurements, it is not quite as accurate as the previous ones. It is perfect for those with an average body fat percentage. For people with the body adipose tissue amount deviating from the norm, the formula can either under- or overestimate the ultimate percentage.

What is the normal body fat percentage?

Women Men
Minimum fat 10-12% 2-4%
Athletic 14-20% 6-13%
Fit 21-24% 14-17%
Average 25-31% 18-25%
Obese 32% and more 26% and more

The table above shows the body percentage ranges for women and men, and based on this you can indicate whether you have a normal body fat percentage, or should start working towards reducing or increasing your fat content. As you can see, a 10% for women and 2% for men of fat is enough for the proper functioning of the female and male body respectively. The difference is quite large, but it is substantiated by the biological characteristics of the male and female bodies. The female body requires a greater amount of fat due to a lower level of fat oxidation as compared to the male body. In other words, women find losing weight more difficult than men due to their bodies’ peculiarities. Another aspect that adds to such a difference is that fat plays a key role in the female reproductive system. Without a sufficient amount of adipose tissue, a woman cannot have periods and ovulation, the lack of which make reproduction impossible.

The ideal body fat percentage for women ranges between 14% and 31%, while for men the norm range is 6% to 25%. If your calculations have shown the measures higher than these, you are considered overweight. Accordingly, you should take steps towards reducing your fat mass before obesity backlashes you.

Why is having excess fat unhealthy?

From the biological perspective, obesity is not what your body is used to. It is associated with certain health issues, the majority of which are severe and fatal. It should go without saying that preventing them is many times better than trying to fight them.

Possible health issues associated with obesity:

● Type 2 diabetes. Obesity can disrupt normal insulin action and interfere with your blood sugar levels.

● Digestive diseases, including gallbladder diseases and liver problems.

● Cardiovascular diseases and strokes. Excess fat has a propensity to boost cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which are the typical preconditions of heart diseases.

● Different types of cancer, such as ovaries, prostate, liver, rectum, and other organs.

● Reproductive problems. Although fat is essential for the reproductive systems of both women   and men, too much of it can lead to infertility. Indeed, obesity often causes erectile dysfunction in men and the absence of menstruation in women.

● Osteoarthritis. Excess fat puts a lot of mechanical pressure on the weighted joints and causes inflammation.

● Sleep apnea. Obesity is often the main driver of one’s unstable breathing during sleep. In some cases the person can stop breathing for some time, which sometimes might lead to suffocation.

● Mental disorders. Overweight people tend to suffer from depression and low self-esteem, possibly preventing them from having a normal social life.

●  Physical pain in different areas of your body.

Other inconveniences caused by obesity

Besides the numerous health conditions obesity causes, it is accompanied by other inconveniences as well. First, overweight people are less productive (measured by absenteeism) than others in the workplace. At the same time, the employers tend to spend more on health care for the obese, which might be a driver of insecurities later on. Similarly, there is a higher probability of discrimination in employment because employers may be reluctant to hire people with excessive adipose tissue. In addition, people with excess fat sometimes become the victims of ridicule, being censured for their “ugliness” and “laziness.”

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How to decrease body fat percentage?

There are multiple weight loss strategies available online, many of which involve either dieting or working out. If you want to successfully shed pounds in a healthy way, you need to combine both those methods. As you didn’t gain the weight in one day, you can’t expect to lose it all in a week. Your weight loss journey may last quite a long time, and eventually become a part of your lifestyle. So, if the body fat percentage calculator showed that you have a significant fat surplus, you may want to start following these recommendations:

Work out regularly

Working out plays one of the major roles in the weight loss process and may also significantly improve your health and wellness. Regular cardio training will not only help you blast away adipose tissue, but also promote your muscle growth.

Here are the examples of cardio activities ranked from the easiest to the hardest:

● Walking. Go for a brisk 30-minute walk 4 times a week. This activity is recommended for the beginners for whom it is hard to work out with weights or to do HIIT.

● Jogging. Jog at least 20 minutes, 4 times weekly. This is a more intense exercise than walking and activates your leg muscles better. You can start jogging when you have lost some weight and feel capable of doing this for the required amount of time.

● Moderate cardio activity. You can do low-impact cardio exercises, start dancing or try Zumba. Doing these for 30 minutes 3 times a week will make your fat melt away.

● Resistance training. This type of workout requires additional equipment, such as weights, resistance bands, stepping platforms, etc. Building muscle with the help of resistance training makes your calories burn faster.

● HIIT. Hands down this type of cardio activity is the most challenging and, consequently, the most helpful in bringing about weight loss. During a HIIT workout, you have to alternate between the intervals of extremely hard work and rest. The common HIIT pattern for weight loss is working out at a moderate pace for a minute and then increasing the intensity to the maximum for half a minute.

Start eating healthy

● Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies might be the healthiest food choices recommended for everyone, regardless of their eating habits. They are often extremely rich in nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals, and contain few calories, being a perfect choice for people who are trying to shed some pounds. At the start of your weight loss journey you don’t need to cut out indulgent foods immediately. A useful option is for you to make them healthier by adding fruits and veggies to them. As you are getting used to your new meal plan, you can start excluding the foods that are not weight-loss-friendly from your diet.

● Reduce the consumption of simple and refined carbs. If you indulge in pastry and sugary foods, you need to substitute them with lower   caloric products. Consumption of great amounts of refined carbohydrates can cause an imbalance in your gut bacteria. Being full of empty calories, their high intake makes weight gain inevitable.

● Eat less salt. Salt in excess is associated with increased food intake and obesity.

Sleep at least 6 hours a day

Since it is impossible to sleep and eat at the same time, sleeping, undoubtedly, positively contributes to weight loss. Furthermore, a proper amount of sleep (around 6-8 hours a day) can slow down your visceral fat growth.

Drink plenty of water

A glass of water can make you feel full and thus prevent you from overeating.

Conclusion: Why should you use a body fat percentage calculator?

Despite being essential for a lot of your body processes, excessive fat can cause you a lot of harm. The body fat percentage calculator helps to calculate your body fat percentage. This is the measure that shows you how much adipose tissue you have in correlation with your bone and muscle mass. If you are a woman, and your body fat percentage exceeds 31%, you are obese and thus prone to a variety of serious health conditions. The same goes for men with more than a 26% of body fat. Therefore, you should use a body fat percentage calculator you prefer to avoid obesity and maintain a healthy weight. Measuring your adipose tissue is easy and doesn’t require much time or effort. Additionally, you can do it yourself with the help of a caliper. Then, with the help of a particular formula, you can calculate your body fat percentage.

If after calculating the body fat percentage and you got the “obese” result, you should not give up. You can solve this problem by losing weight via burning the excess fat. You could do this by following the above-stated recommendations, which involve healthy nutrition, regular workouts, sufficient sleep, and proper hydration. Take up a challenge and try this 20-min Full Body Workout At Home to get a snatched body.


What should my body fat percentage be in order to have abs?

It should be within the athletic range. Nonetheless, you still can have abs even with excess fat. The only thing is that they may not be visible.

How much weight should I lose to get the normal body fat percentage?

It depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and other parameters. What you need to remember is that the recommended weight loss pace is up to and not more than 2 pounds a week.

What body fat percentage should I have to be an athlete?

As a rule, female and male athletes have 14-20% and 6-13% of adipose tissue, respectively. However, your body fat percentage doesn’t always determine your athletic performance and ability to be an athlete.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility.