Body Fat Percentage
What is BFP and how does it affect me?
BODY FAT PERCENTAGE (BFP)
Body fat measurements and the measuring tape are recognized as superior methods
for measuring "weight loss". When one declares
that they want to "lose weight", what they often
mean is that they want to lose fat. So, now that you've
had your body fat percentage measured, what does the number really mean?
First, your body fat percentage is simply the percentage of fat your
body contains. If you are 150 pounds and 10% fat, it
means that your body consists of 15 pounds fat and 135
pounds lean body mass (bone, muscle, organ tissue, blood
and everything else).
A certain amount of fat is essential to bodily functions.
Fat regulates body temperature, cushions and insulates
organs and tissues and is the main form of the body's
energy storage. The following table describes body fat
ranges and their associated categories:
General Body Fat Percentage Categories
-American Council on Exercise
BFP and Weight Loss Goals
Knowing your body fat percentage can also help you determine if your
weight loss goals are realistic. Remember, weight loss
doesn't always mean fat loss.
Let's say you're a 130lb woman with 23% body
fat, and you goal is to "lose 20 pounds":
Initial body fat: 130lb x 0.23 fat = 30lb body
Lean body mass: 130lb total - 30lb fat = 100lb
lean body mass (bones, organs etc...)
Goal: 130lb - 20lb = 110 pounds (9% body fat)
As you can see, the goal of losing 20 pounds is not
realistic or healthy. At 110 pounds, this woman still
requires 100lb of lean body mass (bones, organs, etc.),
but would only be carrying 10lb, or only 9% body fat.
From the chart above, you can see that this is a dangerously
A better goal might be for the woman to reduce her
body fat from 23% to 18%.
In this case:
30lb x 0.18 = 23 lb body fat
Goal: 100lb lean body mass + 23 lb = 123 pounds
So, for this individual to achieve a lean, but healthy
18% fat, she would need to lose only 7 pounds of fat,
reducing her weight from her current 130 pounds to 123
pounds. Losing more than 7 pounds means losing lean
body mass (usually metabolically-active muscle tissue),
which is clearly not desirable.
So before you decide that you need to "lose weight",
remember to consider that "weight" consists
of both lean body mass and body fat. Try to keep your
weight loss goals realistic, and remember, keep the
calorie-burning muscle, and lose only the fat.