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