This is designed to give the approximate percentage of body fat, based on weight and waist size as compared to tables published by the American Medical Association. It does not use any sort of caliper or hydro displacement (known as hydrostatic weighing); therefore, some people say it is not as accurate. According to the AMA, it is a pretty accurate guideline but is no substitute for seeing a doctor. To do this self evaluation, select your gender on the calculator. Enter your present weight and waist size. Click on Calculate for the approximate body fat percentage to be displayed; compare the result to the table below. You may change the values or click on Clear Values to try again. For information about the daily acceptable calorie intake, see our calculators for males and for females. See these calculators for more information on the ideal body weight for males, or females. See our BMI (body mass index) calculator for general information and our calculator for calories burned in various activities. For the safest possible weight loss information, see your doctor.
There is a tremendous amount of variation in the body fat of different groups of people, in particular, of athletes. In athletes, the percent body fat can range from 5 to 20% in males and from 10 to 20% in females. The difference is highly dependent upon the specific sport or activity. Athletes competing in sports where body weight is at least partially supported in the environment, such as diving, swimming or rowing, tend to have higher levels of body fat. Athletes involved in very high intensity anaerobic activities such as track short events or endurance events in track, basketball, or wrestling tend to have semewhat lower body fat levels. Having more or less body fat can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending upon the particular athlete's activity. Having more body fat can be an advantage for contact sports such as being a lineman blocking in football, oriental wrestling or playing rugby. Having less body fat is an advantage when the main goal is to propel the body through space, as in distance track events or other endurance events. Aerobic performance can be negatively affected when body mass is increased in athletes. There are two types of body fat. They are essential and storage. Essential fat is required for the body's hormone and immune systems to function properly. Storage fat is used as fuel for the body in time of need. Essential fat is stored in the bone marrow, heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, muscles and other organs. Women carry additional essential gender-specific fat in the breasts, pelvis, hips and thighs. This fat is biologically important for child bearing and other hormone related functioning. Women carry more than four times as much essential fat as men. Essential fat should account for at least 10 to 12 percent of a woman's total weight. It is possible that lower levels may impair her health. In addition to essential fat, women have varying amounts of storage fat. This is the fat that we gain or lose as our weight changes. Storage fat amounts to about 15 percent of an untrained woman's total weight. A total body fat percentage of 20 to 27 percent is well within a normal, healthy range for women. With training, body fat percentage may be as low as 12 to 16 percent. For the best analysis, see your doctor.