There is no ideal body fat percentage that all men should aim for. If you are working toward a specific goal (especially in competitive athletics), it's best to follow expert advice. For general fitness goals, use the following rough guidelines:
- A typical healthy man can have anywhere from 8 to 20% body fat (11–22% if over 40 years old, or 13–25% if over 60).
- Men with a body fat percentage of 20% or higher may be at risk for weight-related health problems. 25% or higher may be classified as obese.
- Athletes vary by sport, with the leanest (such as cyclists and bodybuilders) typically around 5–10%.
- Men typically carry about 2-5% of essential body fat. Falling below your essential body fat percentage is dangerous. Your body's fat stores have an active role in the regular functioning and protection of your body.
Use these guidelines as a starting point to determine whether you are at a healthy body fat percentage:
- A body fat percentage above 33% (if under 40 years old) may be considered overweight, while 39% or higher puts you in the highest risk category.
- A typical healthy woman has a body fat percentage between 21 and 33% (23–34% if over age 40, or 24–36% if over 60).
- Female athletes typically have a body fat of 14–20%, varying by sport.
- Women typically carry about 10-12% of essential body fat. Falling below this can be dangerous.