Wow take a look at that! Where do you stand? As you can see, as the levels of body fat begin to increase, loss of definition becomes more and more apparent. Don’t take this too close to heart though, because 2 people with the same body fat percent can actually look totally different. See below:
Will 2 people with the same body fat % look the same?
No. It isn’t all about body fat percent, it’s about lean muscle mass too. If these 2 women were the same height, let’s say 5’ 5”, I bet the girl on the left weighs around 118 and the one on the right, 95 lbs. How you build muscle (or not) will determine the your physique. Left girl obviously lifts weights and right girl does not, but the layer of fat from their muscle to skin is the same. Does this make sense? Body fat is just the thickness of the fat you have. Your overall shape is determined by your musculature.
What’s your body fat %?
Above is a great chart that matches up your body fat % with fitness level. The people in “essential fat” are usually Olympic athletes or serious fitness competitors. At this low of a body fat % women will lose their periods completely! I hear that most bikini models are around 14-15%, so that would put them in the “athlete” level.
How to find your body fat percent?
1. Skinfold Measurement (Skin Pinch)
2. Bioelectrical impedance analysis (Handheld/Scale Deviced)
3. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (Dexa Scan)
4. Height and circumference methods (Measurement Collections)
5. Hydrostatic Testing (Underwater Density Test)
The skin fold test is what I used to determine by body fat percent. You will need a personal trainer or someone who knows how to use calipers to do that for you because he or she will have to pinch your fat and measure the mm of fat thickness in 7 different areas, some of which you will not be able to reach for yourself, like your back.
I know a lot of you may not have access to calipers, a personal trainer, or a gym, so here’s a quick and semi accurate way to see where you stand. This is #4, the height and circumference method – use this online calculator, a scale, and a measuring tape to see where you fall:
[Edit 7/20/2011: A lot of girls were telling me that they got bf%’s in the low 30s when they knew they were around the 20s. Thanks for the call out. For whatever reason that calc seems to be very off. Try this one instead? Although, this is not as accurate as a caliper measurement by a fitness professional!]
Remember, this will not be completely accurate so proceed with caution!
What am I?
In the picture above, I am 17.5% body fat and 118.4 lbs. I’m 5’5”.
Finding a balance…
Don’t get too sucked in by the numbers. What matters is how you look and feel at the end of the day. I know a lot of young girls just want to be 105 lbs and will do anything to get there. (I get so many emails about this…) But remember, if you want to get thin, take into consideration your health as a whole. Think of it as getting FIT not as getting skinny. I love that through my workouts, not only have I achieved a more toned body, but I also have gotten so much stronger!
Some of us want the skinny actress look, others want bigger butts or bigger boobs, while a select few fancy looking like body builders on steroids (see 1st photo). Whatever it is you want, I encourage you to follow through with you goals as long as you feel strong and healthy doing it. Okay? Also, remember to be happy with the journey too. Because what happens when you get to your goal weight and you don’t experience an instant burst of joy like you had always dreamed? Well, that’s why you gotta embrace your healthy lifestyle. Keyword: lifestyle. It doesn’t end when you reach your goal…it becomes your life. So love it now.