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What is Normal Body Fat?

By
Ben Greenfield
1-minute read

What Is a Normal Amount of Body Fat?

Next week, I'll be releasing an article and podcast at the Quick and Dirty Tips page about how to measure your body fat. But it doesn't do you any good to know how to measure your body fat if you don't have a realistic expectation of what is normal!

Although classifications do change, a body fat percentage that is considered obese is anything greater than ~35% for females or greater than ~25% for males, whereas an overweight body fat percentage is greater than ~29% for females or greater than ~20% for males. (Because they carry more natural body fat, women will always have higher percentages.) Here are some other helpful values (the older you are, the higher end of the range you'll typically fall into):

Body Type

Female

Male

Athlete

17% or less

10% or less

Lean

17-22%

10-15%

Normal

22-25%

15-18%

Above Average

25-29%

18-20%

Can your body fat drop too low? Absolutely! Your body requires "essential" levels of body fat, necessary for hormone formation, joint health, insulation, padding, and more. Although the exact percentage depends on genetic body type, most men need an essential body fat of 2-4%, while most women need an essential body fat of 10-12%.

Body Weight image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.