Body fat percentage calculator

Body fat percentage is a measure of your overall body composition and indicates how much of your weight is fat and how much is lean mass. The main function of the fat tissue in your body is to store energy in the form of lipids and to support and isolate the organs from each other. You can calculate your body fat percentage using the calculation tool below.

Body fat percentage calculator

There are two types of fats in the body: essential fats and storage fats.

  • Essential fats: This type of fat is found in the bones, liver, kidneys, intestines and muscles. They are necessary for the body to function normally. Essential fats are needed to support vital and reproductive functions. In women, the proportion of essential body fat is significantly higher due to fertility and hormonal functions.
  • Stored body fat: forms fat mass that accumulates over time. It surrounds your organs and is located directly under the skin. This type of fat in adipose tissue serves as a source of energy for the body and fulfils certain functions, such as protecting the abdomen and internal organs through insulation and padding.

Since the goal of most people is to lose fat, calculating body fat percentage can be a good tool for assessing goals. A high body fat percentage can lead to chronic diseases and health problems such as heart failure, diabetes and obesity. However, as essential fats are required for the regulation of glucose, cholesterol, energy storage and release, and the metabolism of reproductive hormones, a low body fat percentage can lead to disruption of these functions.

How do you calculate body fat percentage?

There are many ways to measure body fat percentage, from using a simple skin caliper to more advanced technologies such as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or DXA scans. Body fat percentage can also be calculated using calipers from the skinfold measurement category. Calipers are small, forceps-like instruments that can be used to determine the percentage of fat under the skin. To calculate the percentage of body fat, skinfold measurements are taken on the body, e.g. on the back of the arm and on the waist. Calipers are widely used as they are inexpensive and easy to use. However, they are less accurate than other methods. The methods for calculating body fat percentage can be listed as follows:

  • Underwater weighing: This is a measurement in which the body is completely submerged in water. The underwater weight can be used to estimate the amount of fat mass you are carrying. Underwater weighing, also known as hydrostatic weighing, provides very accurate results, but is a costly and time-consuming measurement. It also requires specialised tools and trained personnel.
  • Bod Pod: This device measures the fat content of your body by displacing air. Like the underwater measurement, the Bod Pod is very sensitive and highly accurate. Calculating the fat percentage with the Bod Pod, also known as air displacement plethysmography, is quite expensive.
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA): The DXA scan uses X-rays to measure the amount of muscle, bone and fat in the body. This scan provides quick results. When comparing body fat and muscle, the bones are also taken into account.
  • Bioelectrical impedance (BIA): BIA measures the speed at which an electric current flows through your body. It is one of the most cost-effective methods for measuring body fat. You can buy and use this easy-to-use device. However, the accuracy of the device depends on many factors, such as food and fluid intake or how long it has been in use.

Apart from this, the body fat percentage can be calculated using various techniques, e.g. 3D body scanners, multi-compartment models and electrical impedance myography (EIM).

Formula for calculating the body fat percentage

If you are looking for an easy way to determine body fat percentage at home, you can find out your body fat percentage using your body circumference measurements. Instead of buying expensive measuring devices, you can determine your body fat percentage yourself by using the formula for calculating body fat percentage, which has also been tested by the American Diabetes Association.

You need the following data to calculate your body fat percentage:

  • Gender
  • Boy
  • Neck circumference (cm)
  • Waist circumference (cm)
  • Hip circumference (cm)

Here is the calculation formula:

For men: 495 / [1.0324 - 0.19077 * log10 (waist - neck) + 0.15456 * log10 (height)] - 450

For women 495 / [1.29579 - 0.35004 * log10(waist + hips - neck) + 0.22100 * log10(height)] - 450

Instead of getting exact figures, you can use it to track the development of your body fat percentage, although it should be noted that such measurements are not always accurate.

Ideal body fat percentage for women

Base grease %10-13
Athlete %14-29
Fitness %21-24
Acceptable range %25-31
Overweight > %32

Age-dependent ideal body fat percentage in women

20-39 %21-32
40-59 %23-33
60-79 %24-35

As men generally have a lower ratio of body fat to lean tissue than women, the ideal ratios for men differ from those for women. In the ACE table, the following percentages are given as ideal for men:

Ideal body fat percentage for men

Base grease %2-5
Athlete %6-13
Fitness %14-17
Acceptable range %18-24
Overweight > %25

Age-dependent ideal body fat percentage in men

20-39 %8-19
40-59 %11-21
60-79 %13-24

What is the ideal body fat percentage?

Once you have calculated your body fat percentage, you can compare it with the recommended values. The ideal body fat percentage can be categorised according to age, gender, athleticism and fitness. In contrast to the BMI calculation, there are differences between men and women when it comes to body fat percentage values.

The body fat percentage for women is calculated in several different classifications. In some tables, the percentages are divided into classifications such as "athletic", "fitness" and "acceptable ranges", while there are also tables based only on age. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) table shows the average percentages in certain groups regardless of age.