In the early days of my skinny fat journey, I would have picked up a pretty covered “silver bullet” diet book rather than give any attention to an aptly titled article like this.
But rest assured, knowing your own body fat percentage and moving the body fat needle to drop that percentage is more than a vanity goal — it’s one of the key tracking points you need to know to ensure you are moving closer to your physique goals.
Which is why you shouldn’t pass up this article.
By the end, you’ll learn why you need to know it, how to measure it in several minutes without forking out hundreds of dollars, and how it can serve you to make intelligent meal planning decisions.
What is Body Fat Percentage?
Body fat is the stuff that a $60.5 billion per year fitness industry is built around (mostly, useless!) products and services to try and “help” you reduce it!
The stuff that we can all easily point to with apprehension and for most — disappointment. It requires no explanation.
Body fat percentage is merely the percentage of your body that consists only of fat.
Why Do We Care About It?
If you are serious about shedding fat to display your abs (or those “vertical lines” for the gals reading) then, calculating your macros and using a tool like MyNetDiary will be paramount to moving the body fat percentage needle closer to your goals.
But there is an essential level of body fat that is important to survive — to maintain body temperature, hormone production. You know, to be able to survive another day to showcase your glutes, abs, and showcase your contracted triceps horseshoe!
Let me show you a chart. Starting with the guys!
Years ago, I was a cross between bottom-left and bottom-middle. About 19–21% body fat.
I hated it. I was frustrated. And I didn’t know what to do. That’s a whole other story.
Let me show off one of my “best” 20% body fat photos taken before I started my journey and you can compare it to the chart.
So it turns out I was so embarrassed to take the photo, I decided I didn’t want my head associated to my body! Ha!
I can tell you from my experience of now sitting at and maintaining 8% body fat — that what I have right now is definitely sustainable all year around.
There’s no point shooting for 3–4% as this is only practical for the-day-of the photoshoot or bodybuilding contest. You should see the donuts these guys smash the moment they walk off stage — within 3 days of their competitions, will easily see a weight gain of upward of 12 pounds (with barely visible abs!)
That’s not the goal for most guys reading this.
Here is where I am sitting at now and is very practical for most guys.
Sorry about the underwear shot!
This is an honest…practical…sustainable body fat percentage. This is 8% body fat (on me with my muscle development.) Compare this image back to the chart I showed you earlier.
Honestly guys (ladies — I will get to you soon!)
If you are anything above 30% body fat, you need to get your ass down to 20% and that will be your immediate goal, followed by 15% and maybe even 10%. Use the chart and mirror as a guide.
If you don’t care about aesthetics… do it for your health. 15% body fat is good enough and almost every guy on planet earth can achieve it.
How? Read my 3-step guide to calculating your macros here, downloading MyNetDiary (free,) and setup a push-pull-legs weight training routine. And if you need more help. Snapchat me: SeekFitLife. All free advice. Be consistent. End of story.
I’ve just saved you thousands of dollars on BS supplements and useless personal trainers.
So I am a male author and fitness competitor that may not be an absolute authority on telling you what you “should be” but, I’ve been around enough female competitors to know that top-left and middle-top — out!
Unless you plan on doing a contest or photoshoot, it is out of the question. Not only will these very low body fat levels screw with your hormones (yes, many women skip their periods during contest prep,) guys are not aesthetically attracted to it and it is not sustainable.
Just like most women are not attracted to 4% body fat bodybuilder-type guys unless you are a Figure competitor, it seems.
Most women would be very happy with 17–18–19% body fat (using the chart) and can sustain it all year around without dietary micro-management.
And… every guy that I know (and myself included, ha!) is more attracted to this physique. But… it doesn’t matter what we think. Do it for you and not for anyone else.
Getting A Victoria’s Secret Model’s Body
For the ladies out there wondering how you could drop your body fat percentage and have the physique of Brazil’s own Adriana Lima or the body of Huntington beach gal Jasmine Tookes.
Interestingly, it is not that easy to find in a simple Google search.
But I can tell you based on being around many female competitors that are just as lean as these Vic Secret girls, and leaner.
Lift heavy weights utilising compound movements such as the deadlift, barbell squat, bench press (yes! ladies too! think: “toned arms”,) and overhead press. Be consistent with training and sticking to your macros. The body fat percentage will slowly decrease!
Patience, patience, and more patience will always win the race.
How Do I Measure My Body Fat Levels?
We mentioned the charts which should be used as a guide only.
I only presented them because it takes literally one minute to get an idea of your own body fat percentage.
This one seems super obvious. There’s nothing wrong with it because at the end of the day — a successful body composition comes down to how you look and how you feel.
If you look great but feel like shit — you’ve lost. End of story.
If you hate how you look in the mirror then, there’s no point getting DEXA scans, “bod pods” or submerging yourself in a tank of water to get the hard data.
In saying that…
If you look at yourself everyday in the mirror, it can be hard to notice the small changes. Which is why I recommend using the mirror in conjunction with:
- Tape measurements
- Belt notches or pants size changes.
Tape measures such as MyoTape are a great little investment that you should invest in to have for life! You can buy it here.
If you want to get fancy, then you can invest in:
- DEXA Scans
- Bod Pods
- Submersion testing
- Bio-impedance analysis (BIA)
If you need any help or have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. I will be happy to help you out!