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Body fat - what is the ideal percentage

I've just bought some scales that measure body fat percentage and water ratio as well as weight. My reading comes up at 11.3% body fat, which sounds about right - there isn't a lot of loose flesh on me. However, the booklet that comes with the scales says that the ideal range for men is 17-23% and that anything under 16% is too thin. Does anyone else have any views on this? I am a slim build but I eat like a horse and am not (I don't think) either anorexic or without any bulk (i.e. muscle, which I know isn't fat, but which does disappear pretty quickly if one is genuinely undernourished). Is a lower body fat ratio normal if you are doing more exercise than the average person (as I guess everyone on this forum will be doing)?


  • AndreAndre Posts: 103
    Throw away the booklet, it's misleading. As with so many things, ideal body fat is dependent on a whole range of factors (not least of all age and gender) - in fact, even peer reviewed research gives different ranges depending on where it's been conducted, due to cultural bias.

    That being said, there are some constants: 'Essential body fat percentage', i.e. that which is required simply to retain a fully functioning body, is around 5% in men, with anything over 25% being clinically obese. That's an awfully wide range and seems most people would fall somewhere within the 17-23% that your booklet mentions; that's not to say it's the ideal range, it's just the average. For an endurance athlete, you're looking at similarly wide range, say anything from 6-14% or even greater.

    So, where does that leave you, with your 11.3%..? Perfectly safe and perfectly healthy, that's where. Now go take the scales back for a refund!
  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    Got a scale like that(probably a cheaper one). I'm 1.74 metres height, weigh 64 kg.

    I'm lean, but not too thin. The scale shows 23% body fat. My Sports exam performed by a licensed sports doctor showed me 10.5% body fat. I believe I'll trust the doc, not that scale,that actually thinks I'm overweight.[:D]

    Mirrors are better than scales I guess.
  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    benny wrote:

    Mirrors are better than scales I guess.

    Try telling that to Snow White
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