If you are on any fitness, weight loss, or healthy dieting journey, it’s likely that you’ve come across the term “body fat percentage”. However, what does it mean?

Simply put, Body Fat Percentage (BFP) is the amount of fat in your body, compared to everything else (including bones, water, blood and so on), and consists both essential and storage body fat. A healthy body fat percentage varies from one individual to the next. Aspects like physical activity, gender, body type, age, heredity all play a role in establishing what forms a reasonable fat percentage. On a gender basis, for instance, women have a broader spectrum for healthy body fat percentage than men do, since they need more body fat.

Calculation body fat

There are different ways to calculate and estimate your body fat, but the easiest method is using the army body fat calculator online. This calculator is based on the US Army standards of medical fitness and will help you to determine your body fat percentage, and it’s compliance with the army recruitment standards. In addition to age and gender, the calculator needs at least three of your measurements – height, neck, waist – to accurately compute your BFP.

However, before you even think about measuring your BFP, you should be aware of what your recommended fat percentile range is. According to the Standards of Medical Fitness, BFP is computed based on your physical size, which includes your neck, height and waist size (if you are a man) or waist, neck, height, and hip size (if you are a woman). When taking the measurements, you need to stand upright, with your arms at rest on either side. Measure your neck at a point just under the larynx; your waist close to the navel or point of the minimum circumference; your hip at the widest point.

Have a look at the following age-adjusted body fat percentile recommendations:

Body fat for an adult female

Women have 5% more fat than men. A healthy BFP for an 18-year-old girl ranges between 17 and 30%, whereas 19-year-old lies between 10 and 31%. Adult women between 20 and 39 years should ideally fall in the range of 21 to 31%. 40 to 59-year-olds should have BFP of 23 to 33%, while those who are 60 and above between 24 and 35%.

Body fat for adult males

A healthy BFP for men aged 18 and 19 lies between 10 and 19% and 9 and 19% respectively. Men 20-39 years should fall within the range of 8 and 19%, while those who are 40-59, 11 to 21%. Male aged 60 and above should strive to maintain a BFP of between 13 and 24%.

As your age increases, the acceptable body fat range also increases. Why? Because when you are older, you tend to have a lower body density for the same skinfold measurement. Presumably, this shows higher BFP. However, if you are older but athletic, you might not fit in this assumption as your body density could be underestimated.