Monday, June 21, 2010

What should our essential body fat be? It depends..

Jungle Miami's post today is about essential body fat.

"Ideal Body Fat Percentage for Men & Women"

The ideal percentage of body fat varies between each individual depending on various factors such as body type, hereditary, age, activity levels and eating habits. However for any one person there’s no reason why body fat percentage should be above 25 percent if the general lifestyle provides adequate activity.

Overweight people generally develop a higher body fat percentage due to either a sedentary lifestyle or a regular consumption of more energy than the body requires, often though it is the combination of both these factors over time that allow the body fat percentage to push to high levels.

We all store body fat in different areas of the body. Although where fat is stored mainly depends on genetic factors, men generally have more fat cells around the abdominal area and women usually store more fat around the hips and thighs. On decreasing body fat to the ideal percentage it is the more abundant storage areas where we often lose it from last. A certain percentage of body fat is also stored internally. This visceral fat is also reduced on losing weight much to the frustration of the dieter when they look in the mirror and believe that no progress has been made.

Age is also a major factor for changes in body fat percentage, as we age we tend to store more fat mainly due to a lowered metabolism and changes in hormones. It is interesting to note that the actual numbers of fat cells are established up to the age of around 16 years. After this age an increase in fat storage results in the expansion of each fat cell not an increase in the numbers.

Learn more about body fat cells and fat percentage!

Some people who try to reduce stored fat sometimes have an unrealistic estimation about the ideal fat percentage they should aim for, with a view that the lower the better. In fact, it is considered unhealthy to have a percentage of body fat below three percent for men or ten percent for women. The minimum percent body fat considered safe and acceptable for good health is 5% for males and 12% for females, although some people can reduce fat levels much lower without any problems especially if a low percentage is only maintained for a short time.

Tom Venuto often reduces his fat percentage to a very low 3.5 percent however, two possible factors help him achi

Recommended Body Fat Levels for men and women:

Males age range Too Little Healthy range Overweight Obese
20-30yrs Below 8% 8 - 19% 19 - 25% over 25%
31-40yrs Below 8% 8 - 19% 19 - 25% over 25%
41-50yrs Below 11% 11 - 22% 22 - 27% over 27%
51-60yrs Below 11% 11 - 22% 22 - 27% over 27%
61-70yrs Below 13% 13 - 25% 25 - 30% over 30%
71-80yrs Below 13% 13 - 25% 25 - 30% over 30%
Females age range Too Little Healthy range Overweight Obese
20-30yrs Below 21% 21 - 33% 33 - 39% over 39%
31-40yrs Below 21% 21 - 33% 33 - 39% over 39%
41-50yrs Below 23% 23 - 35% 35 - 40% over 40%
51-60yrs Below 23% 23 - 35% 35 - 40% over 40%
61-70yrs Below 24% 24 - 36% 36 - 42% over 42%
71-80yrs Below 24% 24 - 36% 36 - 42% over 42%

Recording body fat percentage
It would be good practice to regularly monitor fat levels as this can indicate if any changes in lifestyle or diet affects your body fat percentage.

There are many body fat monitors now available that can be a valuable tool to help monitor your progress. You will learn very quickly if you are to reach your ideal fat percentage on time and reveal if a lack of visual results is simply due to a loss in visceral fat within the body cavity.

Some body fat monitors use Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) technology. These body fat monitors work by sending a low-level electrical signal through the body from two footpads on the scales. The signal passes more quickly through muscle than fat due to its high water content. The monitor analyzes the readings from this signal with stored personal data (height, weight, gender, activity level). This information is converted to a body fat percentage within seconds.

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