The Importance of Body Fat Percentage and Muscle Gain/Performance
Weight alone is not a good enough indicator that your body is healthy. Knowing your body fat percentage is equally important. The more weight you gain, the higher the body fat percentage rises; eventually, it will force you to make some drastic dietary and fitness changes.
The problem is, the rate of obesity has almost tripled in the last four decades. Based on recent statistics, there is a 40% prevalence rate of obesity among adults 20 to 39 years of age. The rates reach 44.8% for those between the ages of 40 to 59.
To keep your body in excellent shape, you should pay attention to the body fat percentage. If you want to know what makes the body fat percentage so crucial in managing overall health, you’ve come to the right place. We prepared a simple guide that will answer all your queries.
Body Fat Percentage – Why Does It Matter?
There are a couple of reasons why measuring your body fat should be a top priority. First, it gives people an overall practical impression of their current health state. If the body percentage is too low or too high, it often means that you need to revamp your lifestyle.
Such as changing your diet to eat more nutritious meals or becoming more physically active to get the blood flow going. Secondly, when you measure the body fat percentage, you give yourself a great baseline.
This could later be used as a rate at which you can change your diet and fitness program. For example, if you are piling up the extra pounds, and the percentage of the body fat keeps increasing, then you definitely need to work on your diet and fitness routine.
The main difference between measuring your weight gain and body fat percentage is that when you step on a scale, these numbers won’t tell you where the extra weight came from. It is just used as an indicator.
Whereas the quantitative number of the body fat percentage will give you an excellent picture of everything that’s happening in your system. That’s why many doctors suggest you get a chart of your body mass index (BMI) when you go for a routine physical.
With that in mind, think of your body fat percentage and BMI as a practical method for monitoring and assessing your body composition and weight.
Typical Body Fat Percentage In Different IndividualsAccording to experts, the body fat percentage will vary based on age and sex. As well as the person’s health state, fitness capacity, and weight. To find out more about the average percentages and how they differ from one another, take a look at the table below.
Essential fat is the level at which physiological and physical health state suffers a very negative effect, which could impact a person’s lifespan. Although more research is necessary, experts estimate that athletic performance can have a significant influence on body fat percentage.
Sports performance highly depends on a person's health and individual skill, like agility, speed, power, and balance. But, it also depends on body composition coordination, explains the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Every fitness component will rely on body composition to a certain extent. When there is a boost in lean body mass, that person also experiences better power and strength development. These are all key features associated with muscle size.
In other words, the increased lean body mass allows an athlete to create more force in a certain amount of time. With healthy lean body mass, people can get faster and amplify their agility performance.
But, if the body fat percentage keeps piling up, then it will impair that person’s coordination, balance, endurance, and movement capacity. Before you can learn to calculate body fat, you should know more about how the percentage affects women and men.
The Perfect Percentage of Body Fat for Women
The reason why these percentages are different in men and women is that women have about 6% to 11% more body fat than men. The female body requires fat to maintain adequate hormone balance, support the organs, and provide a healthy menstrual cycle.
The percentage is based mainly on your weight and age. For example, a healthy body fat percentage for a 20 to 39-year-old is 21% to 33%. While for a 60 to 79-year-old woman, a healthy rating ranges from 24% to 36%. Here is a general estimate.
Women who want to build muscle shouldn’t go too low or too high in body fat. Besides, women with increased body fat generally experience elevated estrogen levels, which aids muscle growth.
However, those who consume a tiny daily surplus (less than 200 kcal) will most likely experience the highest estrogen levels at 23% to 25% body fat. That's why it is super important to watch the body fat rating for an ideal hormonal balance. All these measurements can be used as an indicator of your fitness—particularly those who do powerlifting or different sports.
The Perfect Percentage of Body Fat for Men
Because of the increased popularity of a leaner figure, many men get overly self-conscious about their body fat. Men and women even want under 5% body fat to look thinner and more defined.
But, extremely low body fat percentages, like that under 5%, can be a serious sign of poor health. It could also affect athletes. That’s why it is best to maintain healthy body fat and allow the system to function in excellent shape. Here is how the different percentages look like in men.
If you plan on working on your abs or other muscles, you should also have in mind that the body fat distribution will be heavily influenced by your genes. That means even if your friend shed the same amount of excess pounds while weightlifting, you may still need more work to achieve the desired look.
So, how long it will take for you to become skinner, leaner or thicker will vary based on your current health state. With the right measurements, you can see where you are headed and how well you are doing.
How to Measure Body Fat the Right Way?
To start calculating the percentage of body fat, most people use skinfold calipers. Since many can't afford 3D body scans, air displacement plethysmography, or hydrostatic weighing, these callipers make for a go-to choice.
For an accurate reading, consult with a trained expert or a certified trainer to measure the body fat for you. That way, you are least likely to get incorrect measurements, therefore boosting the reliability and validity of the information.
Another option is to use body fat scales equipped with bioelectrical impedance or body circumference measurements. However, they don’t produce as accurate results as the skinfold method. They could be a practical tool when tracking body fat progress.
The Disadvantages of Having Too Low of Body Fat Percentage
There are two main categories of patients who are vulnerable to being underfat, in addition to those who struggle with malnutrition. These include people with a chronic disease or an eating disorder. Chronic diseases, like cachexia, can make it incredibly difficult to maintain a healthy body fat percentage.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for women to experience:
- Weakened cardiovascular system
- Poor energy levels
- Constant hunger
- Always feeling cold
While men can experience:
- Reduced heart rate
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Heart problems
- Drop in testosterone levels
Even though it can be difficult to know how exactly too low body fat can affect the female and male body, these risks can give you a clear perspective of what you might expect. Sometimes the decrease in body fat percentage could lead to poor metabolism and brain function. That’s why people need to be extra careful to maintain a normal body fat percentage.
The Disadvantages of Having Too High of Body Fat Percentage
Regardless of how much you weigh, the higher the body fat percentage, the bigger the risk for developing obesity-related complications in both female and male patients. Such as:
- type 2 diabetes
- cardiovascular complications
- elevated blood pressure
- unstable cholesterol
Hypertension can put some serious pressure on your heart. It might even damage the blood vessels and increase the possibility of stroke, heart attack, and a kidney illness. Some people with extremely elevated body fat percentages have reported developing osteoarthritis.
Due to the lasting health problems, the condition started affecting their joints, range of motion, and cartilage. But that's not all. Obese individuals are also prone to developing gallbladder diseases, like cholecystitis and gallstones. This can be a serious issue for those already dealing with unstable cholesterol levels.
How to Change Body Fat?
If the percentage is exceedingly high or too low, you might have to work on boosting your fitness performance, health, and well-being. That way, you can reduce the possibility of various health complications.
When it comes to the female body in both under-nourished and well-nourished women, the arm fat tends to increase early in their pregnancy. This is normal. It won’t start to decline until the last trimester, whereas the arm muscle area keeps increasing.
For an overweight individual, losing weight during pregnancy can be a good thing. Even though women have to take extra precautions when managing their body fat, they can still achieve a healthy weight during their pregnancy.
Men, on the other hand, have plenty of flexibility. They can work on their body fat to lose excess weight at any time. To know for sure whether you need to work on your percentage, contact a doctor or a certified trainer. You can also consult with a dietitian if you need rigorous dietary changes.
They can suggest a practical exercise program and diet change that can help you achieve the desired body fat percentage. Each option they suggest will be designed to fit your needs. So, having professional help is surely a huge advantage. With their help, you can overcome all the challenges that come with losing weight. It is a practical and effective way of changing body fat.
Knowing the percentage of body fat is more important than people realize. If you are within a normal range, then you have a better chance of avoiding diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, and increased cholesterol levels. With healthy body fat, you can boost function, flexibility, and energy levels. Supplying your body with nourishing foods, adequate hydration, and physical activity can help you stay on the right track. Now that you know how to measure that percentage, you will have an easier time managing your overall health.