Do you know what your body fat percentage is, right now?
What range is considered ideal for your gender?
Or why you should even care?
Your body fat percentage is a value that tells you how much of your body weight is made up of fat. In terms of your overall health, your body fat percentage can be one of the most useful numbers available to you, more than how much you weigh and even more than your Body Mass Index (BMI).
You might argue that you can just rely on visual appearance, everyone knows what an overweight or obese person looks like. When you get to that point, you know you need to start making a change in your lifestyle. Unfortunately, once you get to the overweight/obese stage your risk for developing health complications will have increased and weight loss becomes difficult.
If you are interested in developing or maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle, measuring and understanding your body fat percentage is incredibly important. Over the next few weeks we will dig into the 3 reasons why understanding your body fat percentage can positively impact your life.
#1 Understanding More About Your Weight
Knowing how much you weigh tells you very little because two people can have the same weight but have completely different body compositions and health risks. Your body fat percentage (PBF) puts your weight into context, telling you far more about yourself than how heavy you are.
Here are the body compositions of three types of people, all around the same weight (~154 pounds) and height (5’10”). To make each of these easier to talk about later, we’ll give them each a fictitious name.
Bill has a body weight of 154.0 pounds and a PBF of 28.3%. Notice the large differences between the bar for Body Fat Mass (BFM) and SMM (Skeletal Muscle Mass). Because of this very large difference, Bill likely falls into the category of what is popularly called “skinny fat.”
Ted has a nearly identical weight to Bill – less than half a pound in difference – but has a PBF of 15.6%, almost 13% less than Bill! This is because, unlike Bill, Ted has average amounts of muscle and fat for a 5’10” person.
Within about a pound of both Bill and Ted is Brian, with a body weight of 154.8 and a PBF of 10.1%. The bars for his SMM and Body Fat Mass are the complete inverse of Bill, who had a skinny fat composition.
Putting It All Together
Now it’s true that even without these charts, it would be quite obvious to tell skinny fat Bill from athletic Brian just by looking at them.
However, the more extreme examples of Bill and Brian are helpful to illustrate how three individuals with roughly the same scale weight and BMI can have wildly different body compositions— something that scale cannot reveal.
Of the three individuals, Bill stands to be the most at risk for health problems because of his high PBF and low muscle mass, but especially so because his weight and BMI are considered normal. Bill may not be aware that he has increased risk for developing health complication, because visually he looks fine.
Without the context body fat percentage provides, it’s very difficult to understand what your weight means when you stand on a scale and whether or not you should consider making changes to improve your body composition.
Article Credit: InBody USA