The ideal percentage of body fat varies between each individual depending on various factors such as gender, body type, hereditary, age, activity levels and eating habits. Overweight people generally develop a higher body fat percentage due to either a sedentary lifestyle or a regular consumption of more energy than the body requires, often though it is the combination of both these factors over time that allow the body fat percentage to push to high levels.
Recommended Body Fat Levels for men and women:
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How Fat Cells Work
We all store body fat in different areas of the body. Although where fat is stored mainly depends on genetic factors, men generally have more fat cells around the abdominal area and women usually store more fat around the hips and thighs. A certain percentage of body fat is also stored internally. This visceral fat is also reduced on losing weight much to the frustration of the dieter when they look in the mirror and believe that no progress has been made.
Age is also a major factor for changes in body fat percentage, as we age we tend to store more fat mainly due to a lowered metabolism and changes in hormones. It is interesting to note that the actual numbers of fat cells are established up to the age of around 16 years. After this age an increase in fat storage results in the expansion of each fat cell not an increase in the numbers.
How Breaking Down Fat
Some people who try to reduce stored fat sometimes have an unrealistic estimation about the ideal fat percentage they should aim for, with a view that the lower the better. In fact, it is considered unhealthy to have a percentage of body fat below three percent for men or ten percent for women. The minimum percent body fat considered safe and acceptable for good health is 5% for males and 12% for females, although some people can reduce fat levels much lower without any problems especially if a low percentage is only maintained for a short time.
Tom Venuto often reduces his fat percentage to a very low 3.5 percent however, two possible factors help him achieve this, his genetic potential or low numbers of fat cells and the knowledge he has developed from years of training to strip down the fat percentage.
As much as some wish to rid the body of stored fat it is essential, it acts as insulation and padding for joints, nerves and vital organs. However the average person tends to carry far more than the body requires. The recommended body fat percentage for men and women is shown below.
How can a body fat monitor helps you?
It would be good practice to regularly monitor fat levels as this can indicate if any changes in lifestyle or diet affects your body fat percentage.
There are many body fat monitors now available that can be a valuable tool to help monitor your progress. You will learn very quickly if you are to reach your ideal fat percentage on time and reveal if a lack of visual results is simply due to a loss in visceral fat within the body cavity.
Some body fat monitors use Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) technology. These body fat monitors work by sending a low-level electrical signal through the body from two footpads on the scales. The signal passes more quickly through muscle than fat due to its high water content. The monitor analyzes the readings from this signal with stored personal data (height, weight, gender, activity level). This information is converted to a body fat percentage within seconds.
* Always seek the approval of a qualified doctor or physician before starting any new exercise, all exercises stated above should be performed under the supervision of a qualified fitness instructor.