Percent Of Body Fat

Hey friends! I am SO glad you all love to walk too :) So, who walked in the gorgeous weather yesterday? I sure did!

This a.m. I was approached with a question from a member who attends my BodyPUMP classes, so I decided I’d share some info with all you lovelies out there too. You should feel super lucky. haha 😉

Obviously I taught BodyPUMP this morning, and it was hoppin’! Every single bar (to load weight onto = barbell), was taken! The class was full, stuffed, packed. Love IT. Love the energy an exercise class can bring. And bring it they did!

I enjoyed my as-of-late favorite snack afterwards. A type of Green Monster Smoothies: Berry Spinach Smoothie!!!

smoothie deliciousness!

With almonds + cinnamon on top of course!

eat me!!

In the mix: greek yogurt+water+frozen berries+strawbs+tons of spinach+cinnamon

Amazing. Couldn’t even tell there was spinach in there (in case you’re wondering what crazy person DRINKS spinach. ha. Lots of ’em actually!)

Percent of Body Fat (aka Body Fat Level)

So, you all know my hatred for the scale. How it does not even tell accurately how “healthy” somebody is. I agree with this wholeheartedly. I think it CAN be a great weight loss tool, but I also believe too many people get hung up with the number on the scale, and thus become obsessed. I know I did. That is why I said “peace” to the scale, and consequently never hopped back on (this works for me).


However, there ARE tools that are possibly more accurate in telling a person how healthy he or she is. Have you ever heard of something called “skinny fat”? A person can be quite skinny (by ‘standards’) but still be quite unhealthy, carrying around extra body fat, and/or being unfit. He or she may not weigh very much, but the percent of body fat he or she carries may be unhealthy for his or her height. So, what WE might see, we might think/judge he/she is SO skinny, “no fair,” when in reality WE might actually be ‘healthier,’ as we might be at a lower body fat level.

I am NOT saying we should judge or carry on comparisons, but what I AM saying is that YOU and I might be healthier than we think. It all depends on the body fat level we currently possess.

SO what IS percent of body fat? The percentage of body fat on a person is literally the pounds of fat he/she carries in relation to the total body weight. For example, if someone carries 56 pounds of body fat and overall weight 160 pounds, he/she would be 35 percent of body fat.

Make sense? So in essence, calculating percentage of body fat would in actuality determine a possibly more accurate number than just the number on the scale. Don’t we WANT to know how much of us is LEAN versus how much of us is FAT? If not, then health/wellness/caring for self may not be a big deal to ya anyways.

The best part??? YOU CAN CHANGE THE PERCENTAGE OF BODY FAT you currently carry (if you want to, this is good news)!!!

Lean ‘weight’ is comprised of:

  • muscles
  • tissue
  • water
  • skin
  • organs

Fat ‘weight’ is comprised of:

  • fat cells
  • uhhhh….fat

Thus, you can see that a LOT goes into play when someone steps on a scale. The number saying how much a person “weighs” includes ALL of the above body parts/cells/structures. HOLY moly. That is why it can be SO frustrating to step on a scale. The number can fluctuate anywhere between 2-15 lbs, depending on how much water he/she drank, bathroom usage, menstruation, and a myriad of other things.

Percent of body fat is a great tool to find out just how much lean tissue we currently have versus how much fat tissue. Obviously, if anyone wants to shed body fat, he/she would pay attention to this percentage (aka ratio).

Research has also shown that percent of body fat may be a better predictor of longevity, reduction in risk for chronic disease, and compressed morbidity rates than total body weight alone.

Some things to watch out for when seeking to have your body fat tested (if you want to):

  • calipers (used at most gyms) are the least effective….because of so many different factors (i.e. who is doing the test, what kind of calipers, etc)
  • the BodPod (found in many research institutions) is one of THE best ways (percentage error: 1-2%)<—I have run 1000s of these tests!!


  • the DEXA scan is THE Gold Standard (i.e the best, currently) for body fat testing(percentage error: <1%)
  • underwater weighing is effective-but requires a lot of equipment and holding breath! (percentage error: 3-7%)
  • electrical impedance is pretty accurate  (error percentage: 1-5%
  • for at-home scale :be WARY of these, b/c they are not standardized. Some could be pretty accurate and others not so much.

There ya have it! Also, if you care, research also shows that lifting weights regularly can help decrease body fat more so than just simply cardio (because of the many benefits that come from lifting weights). A weight lifting plan can do wonders for goals in that arena :) (p.s. I am already planning on showing you an example of such a plan-so stay tuned!)

p.s.-if you care, I have fluctuated throughout my life from anywhere between 14%-30%. Currently I am about 20-21%.

Have YOU ever had YOUR body fat tested? Would YOU rather use this type of “health” measure-why or why not?

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  1. i love the bod pod! i have done it lots of times up at the U.

  2. I definitely agree that the scale is not an accurate measure of health at all! Thanks for sharing all the information about the body fat percentage. I got my body fat tested 2 years ago and it was at 21%, but since then I have started running and doing more strength training. I’ve also grown a few inches and gained 10 lbs. so I don’t know how accurate that is anymore. Hopefully the 10 lbs was muscle, but I doubt it. Haha! 😉

  3. I’ve never gotten my body fat percentage. but I want to soo badly.. it something that I am SO curious about!

  4. what about those things that calculate it based on your age, height, gender, and weight. do they work?

  5. Great post!

    I’ve never had my body fat percentage tested…I think when I gave up the scale last year I gave all of that up…I am just going off of how I feel and how my clothes fit…

    Truthfully I could see myself obsessing with that number like I did with the one on the scale just KNOWING ME….

    For some people I could see this being a very helpful tool…

  6. Great post! Also, we need to be concerned about viseral fat by the organs v. other fat. Not all fat is equal. Viseral fat is more dangerous to our health. : )


  7. I got to do the Bod Pod in grad school and it was awesome!

  8. Just found your blog & I LOVE it :)
    Also love that you don’t stress calorie counting or being a certain weight.. It’s so awesome that we have great role models like you out there teaching young people what good health really looks like.
    <3 Haley

  9. Hi, about home based body fat scales, I reviewed most of them, as you mention they are not all accurate. Brand names (Philips, fitbit aria, garmin index, omron) are the most reliable ones.
    The most important thing to get a constant reading is to use them always at the same time, i would suggest when you wake up in the morning. Hydration can change readings as they use bio electrical impedance (runs a small electrical current through your body)
    Rudy recently posted…Philips Connected Body Analysis Weight Scale ReviewMy Profile


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