Body Fat Percentage Chart For Men & Women (With Pictures)
Before I begin, let me say this:
If you think these are your pictures or you have copyrights of these, please let me know, and I will either replace them or give you credit for the same.
Recently, I got an email from a person who has been following my blog for quite some time, and he needed to advise on how he can reach a 10% body fat percentage. He attached a picture in the email, which looked something like the one you see in the [21-24]% body fat percentage range.
I didn’t use his personal picture, but it was very similar to the one above.
Now, he was under the impression that he was at 14-15% and only had to lose fat in order to reach 10% when in actuality, he has a much longer road ahead of him. Therefore, I wrote this article to clear out the confusion faced by many people similar to the one who emailed me.
The Basics- Body Fat Explained In Simple Terms
Body fat is the total mass of fat divided by total body weight. It’s termed adipose tissue, and its main role is to provide energy. One pound of the body had 3,500 calories stored in it. So let’s say you are at a low body fat level of 7% and weigh 180 lbs. Your body fat is 12.6 pounds which has 44,100 calories of energy!!
Besides providing energy, your body fat also insulates your organs and provides a cushion. This type of fat is called visceral fat which surrounds the organs and mainly composes of belly fat.
The other type of fat is subcutaneous fat which is the fat underneath your skin.
Body Fat Percentage Charts
It’s pretty clear that unless you are competing in a bodybuilding competition, going below 6% body fat is futile. For women, that range is below 14%.
Do note women have essential fats on their breasts and hips for reproduction purposes, and therefore, their essential fat is 8-10%. For men, the level of essential fat is 2-3% which is required for the body to function and protect its organs.
Men [7-9]%; Women [14-17]%
This is the range I achieved when I got my fashion portfolio done way back in 2007. This is where my abs were clearly defined, my face got super angular and there were clear muscle separation and vascularity.
Most fitness models and Hollywood/Bollywood actors are required to be in this range. We live in a world where Leanness is celebrated.
Here Is A Body Fat Percentage Chart For Actors:
Note this range of body fat is not sustainable. Most of these actors, when they are not pursuing a movie role, definitely carry around more fat. The corresponding range for ladies is 14-17%. This, again is reserved for female athletes/fitness models who are competing.
Men [10-12]%; Women [18-21]%
This is where I am currently at the time of writing this article. I strongly feel this is the range which is ideal for any man to maintain.
Again this is still a very personal decision, but unless you are planning to become a fitness model/actor or even a bodybuilder, going below 10% is not worth the sacrifice.
Related Article: Ideal Body Fat Percentage For Men
What about women?
This is the range where you’ll find all your favorite actresses/fashion models. Their main focus is not to display muscles, but simply to attain a defined chiseled/angular face, flat defined tummy, and shaped legs and being in this body fat range provides just that!
This range is still considered pretty low, and it’s super tough to maintain.
Men [14-16]%; Women [22-25]%
For men, this is where the muscle definition starts to go away. The separation and vascularity also start to be covered by a layer of fat. Although there is still some visibility of your six-pack provided you have worked them with weights and made them blocky.
Females start to store more fat on their breasts, hips, and thighs. If they have good muscle mass, they can look the best in this range.
I strongly feel this is the best range for any female to have if they want to look their best and be optimally healthy.
Studies have shown when a female starts to go below 20%; they can develop a ‘Female Athlete Triad.’
The female athlete triad is an interrelationship of menstrual dysfunction, low energy availability (with or without an eating disorder), and decreased bone mineral density; it is relatively common among young women participating in sports. 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435916
Diagnosis and treatment of this potentially serious condition are complicated and often require an interdisciplinary team. Athletic endeavors such as gymnastics, figure skating, ballet, distance running, diving and swimming that emphasize low body weight and a lean physique can also increase the risk of developing the female athlete triad.
Men [17-20]; Women [26-29]%
For men, your six-packs completely disappear here! Your belly starts to protrude, and your face starts to look rounder. Here is me at 18-20% body fat (see a huge difference both in the face and my physique.
Do note there isn’t much difference in the muscle mass I am carrying around; the one on the right is when I am at 10% body fat… a huge difference on my face as well.
The good news for females is that [26-29]% is still a very much desirable range!
It’s very easy to maintain, provided you have an active lifestyle and good eating habits. If you refer to the Body Fat Percentage Chart for Women, the women in the picture have good muscle tone. Her tummy is almost flat with good curves.
Desirable for any man. 🙂
Men [21-24]% ; Women [30-33]%
It’s pretty clear that for aesthetic purposes, men should aim to be less than 14%, and women should focus on being around 22%.
What about the range where you don’t give a fu$k about looks?
However, if you are not concerned with some belly fat and your face looking round but are worried if being in this range may affect your health…then read on…In that case, let’s look at the recommended chart by American Council on Exercise (ACE): 2https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/112/what-are-the-guidelines-for-percentage-of-body-fat-loss/
Research and data suggest that for men, up to 24% body fat range is fine as long as he maintains an active lifestyle and good eating patterns. For women, the upper range suggested is 31%.
The chart and pictures both for men and women in their corresponding body fat range give you an idea and simply an estimation.
However, in actuality, the body fat range and the way one looks are dependent on many factors. If a person is more muscular, even if he has more body fat, he will give the illusion that he has less.
What percentage do you think Mark Wahlberg would be in this picture?
Around 20-24%! Well, it’s really tough to guess, but if a person has more muscle mass, he may give an illusion of being leaner than otherwise, especially if he has his clothes on. The other thing that matters quite a lot is where your fat cells are distributed.
For a Skinny-Fat person (like me and millions like me), the site to store fat is on the belly and face (yeah, I know all the wrong places), whereas for someone like Mark Wahlberg, it’s all over the body.
Related Article: 7 Skinny Fat Workout Tips (#7 Is My Favorite)
I hope I have given you a good start from where you can predict your body fat percentage without any type of equipment.
Related Article: Body Fat Percentage: 3 Ways To Measure It
What do you think about this article? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!
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About Akash Sehrawat
Akash is a creator of 25+ programs and certificate courses in which more than 200,000 students have enrolled both on Udemy and Fabulous Body's native platform. Akash is also an author of three books that can be found on Amazon. His answers on Quora have gathered more than 12 million views in less than a year.
Greetings Akash, this is great info, thank you for creating it. Just one note-
age is an important factor when determining which category people are for bf%. As people age, they naturally have a bit more body fat, even if the same size as when they were younger, due to sarcopenia. Even for those who eat well and lift weights. It’s possible to overcome but takes knowledge, strategy and dedication.
I think perhaps adding a chart that includes age categories as a variable, would be most welcome, so that 52 year old men don’t think they need to still be 10-12% bf to be in the athletic cateory. A 51-55 year old man can be 20-25 bf % and be in the “ideal” category, according to age-adjusted bf% charts.
Thanks Again and Many Blessing to You.
Agreed:) I will create another article on this. Appreciate your comments:)
Hi 🙂 Great article. I was just wondering about your opinion on body fat measuring scales, especially ones that have ‘athlete mode’ vs ‘normal mode’. In athlete mode I am apparently 18% BF but in normal mode I am 26% BF. What am I really??
Thank you Gaby. Scales are mostly inaccurate. I have stopped relying on them for a long time now. There is a lot of diff. between 18% and 26% visually. It is very easy to see and tell:) Based on the charts above what is the range you think you in?
I’m a 50 year old man and I disagree, sir – or maybe I just misunderstand your claim, but i think it’s more likely you may not understand your own claim.
First, sarcopenia is most often the result of lack of daily protein intake combined with lower testosterone – both of which are completely treatable.
Second, if you loose bone density or muscle density, then you need to also loose more fat if you want to consider yourself to be as “athletic” as you were when you had more muscle or more bone density – it’s just rediculous to think that the rules don’t apply to you the same because of your age.
Finally, i have an “ideal”/”athletic” body through daily intermittent fasting for decade, but i have had months where I was ballooned to 20+ percentage body fat and i considered myself “fat”. I ate like a highschool boy for a couple months and it showed. No man gets a pass on science and truth just because he’s “old”.
Got get your T levels checked, excercise in a fasted state with zero calorie BCAA’s, and drop that weight. No special chart for “special” people.
You got this!