Healthy Body Fat Percentage for Women

By Lori Newell

Having a healthy percent of body fat not only means that you look good, but that you have a lower risk for chronic disease. Being at a healthy weight lowers your risk of getting heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other health problems. Healthy body fat ranges from that of an athlete to what is considered acceptable; below are the numbers for women.

Having a healthy percent of body fat not only means that you look good, but that you have a lower risk for chronic disease. Being at a healthy weight lowers your risk of getting heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other health problems. Healthy body fat ranges from that of an athlete to what is considered acceptable; below are the numbers for women.

Identification

Body fat percentage means just that. The number represents the percentage of your current weight that is made up of fat. This, combined with your body weight and body mass index (BMI), can provide an overall assessment of your risk for disease.

Essential Fat

We all need some fat in our bodies for them to function properly. For women, essential body fat should make up at a minimum 10 to 12 percent. However, this is not the healthiest percentage to be at, as it is too low.

Athletes

This category is for people that are very athletic, such as marathon runners and gymnasts. A healthy body fat for this category is 14 to 20 percent of the current weight.

Fitness

The next category is for those that are considered fit or in good physical shape. For this category, the percentage of body fat should fall between 21 and 24 percent.

Acceptable

If you fall in this category, your percentage of body fat is still OK, but bringing it down a bit would lower your risk for disease even more. For this category falls between 25 and 31 percentage of fat.

Obese

If your percentage of body fat is over 31 percent, you are considered obese and at a high risk for disease.

Significance

Knowing the percentage of body fat can be helpful when starting to work out. Women can gain up to 5 lbs. when they first start lifting weights. This can be discouraging, but what is happening is that they are dropping fat and gaining muscle. A normal scale will not show this progress.

About the Author

I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.

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