Ideal body fat is different for everyone, but we all need some body fat to sustain healthy living. Achieving your ideal percentage starts with calculating what your specific body fat number should be and creating a lifestyle plan that moves you toward that goal.
Understanding Ideal Body Fat
Women need 10-12% body fat just for essential organ and system function. Lean athletes burn fat at a higher rate and typically have between 14 and 20% body fat. Ideal body fat for a fit woman falls in the 21-24% range, but 25-31% is on the high side of acceptable. Anything 32% or above is considered obese.
Calculating Your Body Fat
To determine your personal ideal body fat number, you need to calculate what your body fat currently is and compare it to the numbers above to determine how much you need to gain or lose for your ideal number. To calculate your body fat follow the 8 steps below:
- Weigh yourself and then take that total body weight and multiply it times 0.732 and add 8.987.
- Take your wrist measurement (at fullest point) and divide by 3.140
- Take your waist measurement (at naval) and multiply by 0.157
- Take your hip measurement (at fullest point) and multiply by 0.249
- Take your forearm measurement (at fullest point) and multiply by 0.434
- Find “Lean Body Mass” by adding all 5 step results above.
- Find “Body Fat Weight” by subtracting your “Lean Body Mass” in step 6 from your beginning total body weight you used in Step 1.
- Find your “Body Fat Percentage” by multiplying your “Body Fat Weight” in step 7 by 100 and dividing that by your total body weight you used in Step 1.
Reaching Your Ideal Body Fat
After calculating your body fat percentages with the formulas above, decide which of the categories you fall in: athletic, fit, acceptable or obese. Then you can decide how much you need to increase or decrease to achieve your ideal goal.
Working Toward Your Ideal Body Fat
Once you’ve established goals for gaining or losing the body fat that is right for your body type, prepare a plan for achieving the goal that should be 4 pronged:
- Diet – a nutritious, low fat and low processed sugar diet that is rich in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants.
- Exercise – a combination of cardiovascular and strength training exercises that elevate the heart rate, and tone and strengthen muscles for maximum fat burning during exercise and metabolism burning afterwards.
- Sleep – a plan for getting 6 to 8 hours of restful sleep each evening.
- Portion or calorie control – You’ll need to adjust your meal portions and the number of calories you intake each day to reflect the desired increase or decrease in body fat. To decrease body fat, decrease portion sizes and calorie intake. To increase body fat, increase portions of healthy foods and increase calories by increasing healthy fats.
Remember, there is no such thing as average body measurements that we all need to achieve. Each specific body type will have different requirements.