Skinny fat refers to a group of people may have a normal BMI (Body Mass Index) who appear skinny on the outside, yet have a disproportionate percentage of body fat to lean body muscle on the inside.

Skinny fat people may maintain a relatively healthy diet and has body metabolism that keep the weight normal, but do not exercise regularly. Those who do exercise, feel that this gives them room to eat more.

What is body fat percentage?

Body fat percentage is the total weight of body fat divided by the total body weight.

Your body fat comprises of essential body fat and storage fat. Essential body fat is necessary to maintain life and reproduction function. Storage fat is fat accumulated in the fat tissues (adipose tissues). They are found under the skin (subcutaneous fat), around the abdomen (abdominal fat) and around the organs (visceral fat).

Women have more fat than man. Below is the various range of body fat percentage for men and women:

Women                    Men

  • Essential fat                 10-13%                     2-5%
  • Athletes                        14-20%                     6-13%
  • Ideal                              21-24%                     14-17%
  • Average                        25-31%                      18-24%
  • Obese                           greater 32%            greater 25%

How do you measure body fat percentage?

The weighing scale does not tell you your body composition because the weight measured is made up of water, bone mass, muscle mass and fat mass. You need to measure by other ways to determine your body fat percentage

1) Skin Fold Test

Pinch the skin of the waist above the hipbone. Use a caliper to measure the thickness of the skin fold. Refer to a published chart to read of the body fat percentage. This method is easy use and you can do this everyday as long as you can be consistent in the pinch area.

2) Bio-impedance scale

This method is based on a small electric current that is sent through the body. Resistance to the electric current by the presence of moisture in the body will provide the readings. Muscle has more moisture while fat does not. By this difference, the machine is able to calculate the body fat percentage as well as the body composition.

You can get this machine easily in the market and it is rather affordable. However, it is less accurate as it depends on the body moisture. If you are dehydrated or have too much water, it will affect the reading.

3) Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is calculated by body weight divided by height time height. From the BMI there is formula with input of age and gender. The equation for children and adult differ.

Child body fat % = (1.5 x BMI) – (0.7 x age) – (3.6 x gender) + 1.4
Adult body fat % = (1.2 x BMI) – (0.23 x age) – (10.8 x gender) – 5.4
Gender – men = 1, women = 0

For more convenient way to determine your body fat percentage, try out this body fat calculator. Just input your weight and waist circumference and you can get your reading.

All these methods have their pros and cons. But they provide a fairly reasonable and affordable reading which can help you to track and manage your body fat percentage.

Are you skinny fat? If you are, check out my next post where I will write on how to reduce body fat.

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