Calculate your Body Fat


Measuring body fat is a much better indicator of health than measuring body weight alone.

But don’t throw away your bathroom scale, just yet.

Measuring body weight is quick, convenient, and can be a good indicator of dehydration or sudden weight changes, so keep the ‘weighing’ habit…it’s a good one.

The table below shows ranges of body fat (bf) by percentage, and levels of fitness as classified by the American Council on Exercise:

Classification Men (bf%) Women (bf%)
Essential Fat 2-4 10-12
Athletes 6-13 13-20
Fitness 14-17 21-24
Acceptable 18-25 25-31
Obese 25% & higher 32% & higher

So how can we calculate our body fat percentage?

The most accurate way to measure body fat is a hydrostatic method in which a doctor or qualified medical expert takes the ‘bathroom scale’ measurement and compares it to that of your buoyant weight (fat floats) and calculates the percentage. This can be expensive, time-consuming (and awkward), but it is the most accurate method.

Calipers are the next most accurate method, but the results can vary significantly if conducted by a ‘non-expert’. These can vary in price from $10-$50, but you may experience a higher error percentage than a qualified person.

The third way to measure body fat, and a favorite of those of us that like to ‘keep it simple’, is by taking body measurements with a tape measure and doing the calculation. This method was developed for the Department of Defense in 1984 and has proven to an accurate means to measure body fat.

Here’s what you need to do to measure body fat:

Step 1: Measure your neck

Take a cloth or PVC measuring tape and measure the circumference of your neck just below your larynx (Adam’s Apple). Do it in front of a mirror for best results.

Step 2: Measure your waist (abs)

For the females, this will be the circumference of your actual waist-line which is typically the point of least circumference. For the males, this circumference measurement is to be taken around your abs - at your navel (belly button). Measurements should be taken after you exhale.

Step 3: Measure your Hips (Females Only)

This measurement should be taken by placing the tape around the hips so that it passes over the greatest protrusion of the gluteal muscles (buttocks) as viewed from the side. Again, use a mirror when measuring if you’re like me and prefer not to have a witness.

Round your neck measurement UP to the nearest ½ inch, and your waist (abs) and hip measurements DOWN to the nearest ½ inch.

Now, if your mathematically inclined, below are the formulas to calculate your body fat percentage. Please note that these formulas are for measurements in inches (1 inch = 2.54 centimeters). For those that prefer not to use log rhythmic functions, scroll down to the tables below.

WOMEN:

%Body Fat = 163.205 x log10(waist + hips – neck) – 97.684 x log10(height) – 78.387

MEN:

%Body Fat = 86.010 x log10(abs – neck) – 70.041 x log10(height) + 36.76

In order to use the Body Fat Percentage Tables (below), calculate your circumference value (CV), then look up your body fat percentage by your height (inches):


  • Women: CV = Waist + Hips – Neck
  • Men: CV = Waist – Neck 



Summary of Tables 
Table 1. Women (height: 58” – 67”) 
Table 2. Women (height: 68” – 77”) 
Table 3. Men (height: 60” – 69”) 
Table 4. Men (height: 70” – 79”)


Table 1.   Body Fat % - Women (height: 58” – 67”)

Percent Fat Estimation for Women (height: 58” – 67”)
CV 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67
45.0 19
45.5 20 19
46.0 21 20 19
46.5 21 21 20 19
47.0 22 22 21 20 19
47.5 23 22 22 21 20 19
48.0 24 23 22 22 21 20 20
48.5 24 24 23 22 22 21 20 20
49.0 25 24 24 23 22 22 21 20 20
49.5 26 25 24 24 23 22 22 21 20 20
50.0 27 26 25 24 24 23 22 22 21 21
50.5 27 27 26 25 25 24 23 23 22 21
51.5 29 28 27 27 26 25 25 24 23 23
52.0 29 29 28 27 27 26 25 25 24 23
52.5 30 29 29 28 27 27 26 25 25 24
53.0 31 30 29 29 28 27 27 26 25 25
53.5 31 31 30 29 29 28 27 27 26 25
54.0 32 31 31 30 29 29 28 27 27 26
54.5 33 32 31 31 30 29 29 28 27 27
55.0 33 33 32 31 31 30 29 29 28 27
55.5 34 33 33 32 31 31 30 29 29 28
56.0 35 34 33 33 32 31 30 30 29 29
56.5 35 35 34 33 32 32 31 30 30 29
57.0 36 35 34 34 33 32 32 31 30 30
57.5 37 36 35 34 34 33 32 32 31 30
58.0 37 36 36 35 34 34 33 32 32 31
58.5 38 37 36 36 35 34 34 33 32 32
59.0 38 38 37 36 36 35 34 34 33 32
59.5 39 38 38 37 36 35 35 34 33 33
60.0 40 39 38 37 37 36 35 35 34 33
60.5 40 39 39 38 37 37 36 35 35 34
61.0 41 40 39 39 38 37 37 36 35 35
61.5 41 41 40 39 38 38 37 36 36 35
62.0 42 41 40 40 39 38 38 37 36 36
62.5 42 42 41 40 40 39 38 38 37 36
63.0 43 42 42 41 40 40 39 38 38 37
63.5 44 43 42 41 41 40 39 39 38 37
64.0 44 43 43 42 41 41 40 39 39 38
64.5 45 44 43 43 42 41 41 40 39 39
65.0 45 45 44 43 42 42 41 40 40 39
65.5 46 45 45 44 43 42 42 41 40 40
66.0 46 46 45 44 43 43 42 41 41 40
66.5 47 46 46 45 44 43 43 42 41 41
67.0 47 46 45 45 44 43 43 42 41
67.5 46 46 45 44 44 43 42 42
68.0 47 46 46 45 44 44 43 42
68.5 47 46 45 45 44 43 43
69.0 47 46 45 45 44 43
69.5 46 46 45 44 44
70.0 47 46 46 45 44
70.5 47 46 46 45
71.0 47 46 45
71.5 47 46
72.0 47 46
72.5 47




Table 2.   Body Fat % - Women (height: 68” – 77”)

Percent Fat Estimation for Women (height: 68” – 77”)
CV 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77
49.5 19
50.0 20 19
50.5 21 20 19
51.0 21 21 20 19
51.5 22 21 21 20 20
52.0 23 22 21 21 20 20 19
52.5 23 23 22 22 21 20 20 19
53.0 24 23 23 22 22 21 20 20 19
53.5 25 24 23 23 22 22 21 21 20 19
54.0 26 25 24 24 23 22 22 21 21 20
54.5 26 25 25 24 24 23 22 22 21 21
55.0 27 26 25 25 24 24 23 22 22 21
55.5 27 27 26 25 25 24 24 23 23 22
56.0 28 27 27 26 25 25 24 24 23 23
56.5 29 28 27 27 26 26 25 24 24 23
57.0 29 29 28 27 27 26 26 25 24 24
57.5 30 29 29 28 27 27 26 26 25 25
58.0 30 30 29 29 28 27 27 26 26 25
58.5 31 30 30 29 29 28 27 27 26 26
59.0 32 31 30 30 29 29 28 27 27 26
59.5 32 32 31 30 30 29 29 28 27 27
60.0 33 32 32 31 30 30 29 29 28 28
61.5 35 34 33 33 32 32 31 30 30 29
62.0 35 35 34 33 33 32 32 31 30 30
62.5 36 35 34 34 33 33 32 32 31 30
63.0 36 36 35 34 34 33 33 32 32 31
63.5 37 36 36 35 34 34 33 33 32 32
64.0 37 37 37 36 36 35 34 34 33 33
64.5 38 37 37 36 36 35 34 34 33 33
65.0 38 38 37 37 36 35 35 34 34 33
65.5 39 38 38 37 37 36 35 35 34 34
66.0 40 39 38 38 37 37 36 35 35 34
66.5 40 39 39 38 38 37 37 36 35 35
67.0 41 40 39 39 38 38 37 36 36 35
67.5 41 41 40 39 39 38 38 37 36 36
68.0 42 41 40 40 39 39 38 38 37 36
68.5 42 42 41 40 40 39 39 38 37 37
69.0 43 42 41 41 40 40 39 39 38 37
69.5 43 43 42 41 41 40 40 39 39 38
70.0 44 43 43 42 41 41 40 40 39 38
70.5 44 44 43 42 42 41 41 40 40 39
71.0 45 44 44 43 42 42 41 41 40 39
71.5 45 45 44 43 43 42 42 41 41 40
72.0 46 45 45 44 43 43 42 42 41 40
72.5 46 46 45 44 44 43 43 42 42 41
73.0 47 46 45 45 44 44 43 43 42 41
73.5 47 46 45 45 44 44 43 42 42
74.0 47 46 46 45 45 44 43 43
74.5 47 46 46 45 45 44 43 43
75.0 47 46 46 45 44 44 43
75.5 47 46 46 45 44 44
76.0 47 46 45 45 44
76.5 46 46 45 45
77.0 47 46 46 45
77.5 47 46 46
78.0 47 46
78.5 47




Table 3.   Body Fat % - Men (height: 60” – 69”)

Percent Fat Estimation for Men (height: 60” – 69”)
CV 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69
13.5 9
14.0 11 10 10 9
14.5 12 12 11 11 10 10 9
15.0 13 13 12 12 11 11 10 10 10
15.5 15 14 14 13 13 12 12 11 11 10
16.0 16 15 15 14 14 13 13 12 12 12
16.5 17 16 16 15 15 14 14 14 13 13
17.0 18 18 17 17 16 16 15 15 14 14
17.5 19 19 18 18 17 17 16 16 15 15
18.0 20 20 19 19 18 18 17 17 16 16
18.5 21 21 20 20 19 19 18 18 17 17
19.0 22 22 21 21 20 20 19 19 18 18
19.5 23 23 22 22 21 21 20 20 19 19
20.0 24 24 23 23 22 22 21 21 20 20
20.5 25 25 24 24 23 23 22 22 21 21
21.0 26 25 25 24 24 24 23 23 22 22
21.5 27 26 26 25 25 24 24 23 23 23
22.0 28 27 27 26 26 25 25 24 24 23
22.5 29 28 28 27 27 26 26 25 25 24
23.0 29 29 28 28 27 27 26 26 26 25
23.5 30 30 29 29 28 28 27 27 26 26
24.0 31 30 30 29 29 28 28 28 27 27
24.5 32 31 31 30 30 29 29 28 28 27
25.0 32 32 31 31 30 30 30 29 29 28
25.5 33 33 32 32 31 31 30 30 29 29
26.0 34 33 33 32 32 31 31 31 30 30
26.5 35 34 34 33 33 32 32 31 31 30
27.0 35 35 34 34 33 33 33 32 32 31
27.5 36 36 35 35 34 34 33 33 32 32
28.0 37 36 36 35 35 34 34 33 33 32
28.5 37 36 36 35 35 34 34 34 33
29.0 37 37 36 36 35 35 34 34
29.5 37 36 36 35 35 34
30.0 37 36 36 35 35
30.5 37 37 36 36
31.0 37 36
31.5 37




Table 4.   Body Fat % - Men (height: 70” – 79”)

Percent Fat Estimation for Men (height: 70” – 79”)
CV 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79
15.5 10 9 9
16.0 11 11 10 10 9
16.5 12 12 11 11 11 10
17.0 13 13 13 12 12 11 11 10 10 10
17.5 14 14 14 13 13 12 12 12 11 11
18.0 15 15 15 14 14 13 13 13 12 12
18.5 17 16 16 15 15 14 14 14 13 13
19.0 18 17 17 16 16 15 15 15 14 14
19.5 18 18 18 17 17 16 16 16 15 15
20.0 19 19 19 18 18 17 17 17 16 16
20.5 20 20 19 19 19 18 18 17 17 17
21.0 21 21 20 20 20 19 19 18 18 18
21.5 22 22 21 21 20 20 20 19 19 18
22.0 23 23 22 22 21 21 20 20 20 19
22.5 24 23 23 23 22 22 21 21 21 20
23.0 25 24 24 23 23 23 22 22 21 21
23.5 25 25 25 24 24 23 23 23 22 22
24.0 26 26 25 25 25 24 24 23 23 23
24.5 27 27 26 26 25 25 25 24 24 23
25.0 28 27 27 26 26 26 25 25 24 24
25.5 29 28 28 27 27 26 26 26 25 25
26.0 29 29 28 28 28 27 27 26 26 26
26.5 30 30 29 29 28 28 27 27 27 26
27.0 31 30 30 29 29 29 28 28 27 27
27.5 31 31 30 30 30 29 29 28 28 28
28.0 32 32 31 31 30 30 29 29 29 28
28.5 33 32 32 31 31 31 30 30 29 29
29.0 33 33 32 32 32 31 31 30 30 30
29.5 34 34 33 33 32 32 31 31 31 30
30.0 35 34 34 33 33 32 32 32 31 31
30.5 35 35 34 34 34 33 33 32 32 32
31.0 36 35 35 35 34 34 33 33 33 32
31.5 36 36 36 35 35 34 34 33 33 33
32.0 37 37 36 36 35 35 34 34 34 33
32.5 37 36 36 35 35 35 34 34
33.0 37 36 36 36 35 35 34
33.5 37 36 36 35 35
34.0 37 36 36 36
34.5 37 37 36
35.0 37



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