Healthy Body Fat Percentage Vs Obesity In Women: What’s The Difference?
High body fat can increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while too little body fat can affect fertility, immunity and heart health.
“How much body fat do I need?” Before we ask that question, understand that not all fat is bad. Essential fat stored in your bones, kidneys, liver, intestines, and muscles is necessary for healthy bodily functions. It’s the excessive stored fat, stored in the adipose tissues, that can lead to chronic health issues. What is the ideal body fat percentages for women in different age groups, and how to reduce your body fat percentage, let's take a look.
What Is The Average Body Fat Required For A Woman?
While most health professionals use a skin calliper to measure body fat, several other methods give you a more accurate reading of your body composition. These include:
- Underwater weighing
- A body pod
- Dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan
- Bioelectrical impedance
Young women, ages 20 to 39, should aim for 21 percent to 32 percent of body fat, whereas middle-aged women, ages 40 to 59, should aim for 23 percent to 33 percent of body fat. Older women, ages 60 to 79, should have 24 percent to 35 percent body fat.
Risks Of High Body Fat Percentage
Excessive storage of body fat leads to obesity. There are various reasons why people struggle with obesity. Typically, a BMI of 30.0 and higher indicates obesity. For some, obesity is genetic, while for others it’s a product of physiological and environmental factors including unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices. Here are some risks of obesity in women
- Heart disease and strokes
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Increased risk of various cancers
- Gallbladder disease and digestive issues
- Liver problems
- Sleep apnea
Weight issues also impact the overall quality of life of an obese person. Some of these issues include:
- Body-image / body shaming issues
- Social isolation
- Lower work achievement
Therefore, obesity not only places a person at high risk for several other diseases and health problems but also impacts their personal and social life.
What Causes Obesity?
Obesity is a result of excess accumulation of non-essential fat stored in the adipose tissues. It can be a combination of genetic factors, unhealthy, high calorie diet, and other contributing factors. Apart from these, there are other, listed below, which do cause obesity:
- Alcoholic beverages and sugary soft drinks
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Cushing syndrome
- Anti-seizure medications
- Diabetes medications
- Antipsychotic medications
- Steroids and beta blockers
- Socio-economic influences
- Quitting smoking
- Lack of sleep
Having said that, most of these risk factors can be managed through diet, regular exercise, and behaviour changes.
How To Lower Your Body Fat Percentage?
When it comes to healthy loss of body fat percentages, it's best to avoid calorie-restrictive diets and unsafe supplements. Here are some lifestyle and diet tips for long-term fat loss in a healthy natural manner. Instructions include:
- Start strength training like bodyweight exercises, lifting weights, etc.
- Eat a protein-rich diet to help preserve muscle mass and metabolism during weight loss
- Create a healthy sleep cycle; maintain a regular sleep routine, limit caffeine intake and avoid using electronic devices before bed
- Eat foods with healthy fats like avocados, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, and seeds
- Replace sweetened beverages with calorie-free beverages like water or green tea
- Increase your fibre intake; eat foods like whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes and seeds
- Replace refined carbs with whole grains; instead of eating processed foods, pastries, white bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals, use barley, oats, buckwheat, whole wheat, and quinoa
- Add cardio, aka aerobics exercise, to your fitness routine
- Drink coffee, but never a few hours before bed
- Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
All in all, unless the weight gain isn’t resulting from genetic disposition, hormonal changes, or as a response to pre-existing diseases, body fat percentage can be brought back to a healthy limit over time with exercise, a healthy diet, and lifestyle management.
A healthy body typically has more muscle mass and less fat percentage. However, how much healthy fat you need depends on your age and sex. Physiologically, women need more body fat than men for good health. Body fat also changes with age.
While the Body mass index (BMI) can also give you a rough estimate of body fat percentage, it has its limitations. For example, if you have high muscle mass, your BMI will hike despite you not having a high body fat percentage. Typically, a BMI of 30.0 and higher indicated obesity.
Obesity can be genetic or because of unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices. Obesity not only puts a person at high risk for several other diseases but also impacts their personal and social life.
The good news, however, is that one can reduce excess fat percentage over some time with diet management and physical exercise. It’s best to avoid calorie-restrictive diets and unsafe supplements, to ensure healthy weight loss.Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.