The body fat percentage

In our last post, we talked about the body fat percentage for athletes. Today we are going to take a look at these values to common people. The body fat percentage estimates the whole fat inside the body, which includes the essential and the storage fat.

Essential body fat is present in bone marrow, organs (around the membranes) and in nerve tissue. This fat cannot be lost without compromising physiological functions. On the other hand, stored fat represents energy reserves, which are accumulated when excess energy is consumed, and decrease when more energy is expended than is ingested. According to the American Council on Exercises, the expected range values for body fat percentage are:


Essential Fat: 0-12 %

Athletes: 14-20 %

Fitness: 21-24 %

Acceptable: 25-31 %

Obese: +32 %


Essential Fat: 2-4 %

Athletes: 6-13 %

Fitness: 14-17 %

Acceptable: 18-25 %

Obese: +26 %

The values considered healthy and adequate for the general population are higher than those found in elite athletes. Therefore, people with a high body fat rate should try to reduce it only to an appropriate range, never impairing the proper functioning of our physiological systems. 

People with a normal fat rate can maintain this level by training consistently and frequently, as well as by taking special care with the quality and quantity of food eaten - always favouring a healthy eating pattern.


American Council on Exercises. Accessed on November 17th, 2021. ttps://

Mahan, L. K., & Escott-Stump, S. (2000). Krause's food, nutrition, & diet therapy. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.

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