For a long time, people equated thinness with health. I can show you plenty of pictures of Olsen twins and you’d know this isn’t so. We are now wiser and have learned that Body Fat percentage is a much better marker of overall health and fitness.
(Almost Complete Guide) to Body Fat Percentage Of Celebrities
As a guy in the food and tech industry I’ve been thinking for a while about what the perfect body is. The answer is different for each individual out there. Health, however, is a bit easier to measure.
Since visuals give way to better understanding, I’ve assembled these images to try to understand what certain percentages of body fat actually look like on different types of people with this (Almost Complete Guide) to Body Fat Percentage Of Celebrities.
Body Fat Terms You Need to Know
Before we actually get down to business, we have to get some terms down:
Body Fat Percentage
Amount of body fat (lb, or kg) divided by total body weight listed as a percentage.
Body Fat Distribution
Everyone’s fat is in different parts of our bodies. (..remember in school someone would call you a fat head…haha…wait I digress). Some women are pear-shaped (The hip measurement is greater than the bust measurement), while others are apple-shaped ( The shoulders are broader compared to their hips). It is similar for men, but for the most part, men carry their fat in their midsection (beer belly anyone?)
No two bodies are the same. Two people can have the same body fat distribution, but be shaped differently. Think of this as comparing a runway model vs. a gymnast. Quick question: Which would you date? See now who’s vain?
Most devices that measure body fat showed higher body fat levels as age increases. With aging, visceral fat (around the organs) and intramuscular fat tend to go up. For example, a 19-year-old man and a 55-year-old man may have the same subcutaneous body fat measurement (that’s the fat under the skin), but the 19-year-old maybe 15% and the 55-year-old will be at 20%.
Muscle is seen more clearly as people become more defined. Muscle takes on the look of thin rods which are called striations.
As your body fat decreases, veins are more easily visible.
Male Celebrities at Different Body Fat Percentages
Men at 3-4% Body Fat
Bodybuilders scare me, and not just because they can beat me up. They can get to body fat levels as low as 3-4%. That’s extreme. This body fat level results in severe vascularity (visibility of the veins). This is why the veins seem to almost pop out of their skin (and they seem pissed all the time). One is able to see each muscle and its striations. Even the tush has striations, some vascularity, and very little fat (“open me some walnuts, please”). 2% is the least amount of fat a man needs for the body to function and the hardest to maintain.
Men at 6-7% Body Fat
A man with 6-7% body fat is not quite as extreme as the earlier example (think of a fitness model instead of a bodybuilder), but it is still quite difficult to maintain. At this level, the face becomes thin, muscles defined, and veins become pronounced on the arms, legs, and abs.
Men at 8-12% Body Fat
10-12% is a level most men are able to maintain without too much suffering except for the possible enjoyment of pizza. Men at this level of body fat have defined abdominal muscles, but not too much separation between the muscles. There may be some striations on the shoulders and arms, but not all over the body. There may be some vascularity on the arms, and maybe a little on the legs. Think of this as your classic chiseled beach body.
Men at 13-15% Body Fat
A man at 15% body fat level is considered “lean and fit”. One can see the outlines of muscle, but there is no clear separation between them. There should be little vascularity or striations since they are covered by a thin layer of fat. Think shapely, but not overtly defined (or as women in our office call this “Yum”).
Men at 20% Body Fat
I’d say that 20% is your typical healthy male. The separation between the muscles starts to disappear, and few veins or striations are visible. There may be a small stomach pouch of fat. Most of my active friends are within the 20-25% body fat range. Sadly this is a fading demographic globally.
Men at 25% Body Fat
At this level of body fat, there is little to no separation of muscles, no vascularity, or muscle striations. The waist begins to get larger (and larger) with a waist to hip ratio as high as 0.9 (waist circumference/hip circumference). Fat will start accumulating on the neck, but with a correctly fitted suit, nobody will know about that 25%. This is the danger zone, once a man is over 25% body fat he is considered obese (and a 40+ inch waist is considered abdominal obesity.)
Men at 30% Body Fat
At 30% body fat, there is no muscle separation, and there is visible fat in unusual places like the back, thighs, and calves. The waist ends up looking bigger than the hips, and the stomach sticks out over the waist. Aging rock stars also tend to split their pants more often on stage.
Men at 35% Body Fat
At this level of body fat, most fat gathers around the stomach, think of the beer gut (or male pregnancy). If your waist circumference is 40+ inches at 35% body fat, you probably fit into this category. It may be a good idea to see your doctor at this point since this level of body fat percentage is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.
Men at 40% Body Fat
At this body fat percentage, more fat accumulates in the stomach and waist (think of a 45-inch waist). At this dangerous level, everyday tasks like taking the stairs, or bending over to pick something up becomes troublesome. This body fat level is close to the morbidly obese range (BMI 35+).
Body Fat Picture Descriptions Of Women Celebrities
Women at 10-12% Body Fat
10-12% is an extremely low body fat level typically attained by female bodybuilders (see the difference between Chyna and J-Lo). Essential fat for women is higher than men because women have more fat in breast tissue and the areas around the uterus. This level of body fat is not considered safe by doctors. Once women reach this level, they may reach a state of amenorrhea (be unable to menstruate). At this incredibly low level of fat, striations of muscle, the separation between muscles, and clear vascularity are to be expected. I won’t judge but if you get to this level you should have a conversation with your
dealer…I mean doctor.
Women at 15-17% Body Fat
This is still considered a quite a low level of body fat for women (the equivalent of the 6-7% body fat for range men). Many swimsuit and fitness models attain this body fat level and will be afflicted with amenorrhea. At this level, there is muscle definition in the abs, legs, arms, and shoulders is apparent. Veins will be somewhat pronounced (vascularity) and there will be some separation between muscles.
(Comment from office cleaning lady “Them bitches hungry”)
Women at 20-22% Body Fat
At this level, most women are considered “fit and healthy” by their doctors. If you are at this percentage, you are most likely an athlete or exercise on a regular basis. There will be some definition in the abs, a little body fat on the arms and legs, and minimal separation between muscles. Think catalog, not the runway.
Women at 25% Body Fat
This is your average woman; neither too slim, nor overweight. This body type is curvaceous in the hips with more fat in the butt and thighs. Also, a dying body shape as people enjoy collecting percentages.
Women at 30% Body Fat
While the average male collects fat around the tummy, body fat on most women accumulates in the hips, butt, and thighs. At 30% body fat, a woman will be on the upper scale of average, but closer to overweight. The hips, thighs, and butt will be more pronounced and round. This is Sir Mixalot’s favorite percentage group. He wrote a song about it.
Women at 35% Body Fat
At 35 %, the hips widen and the face/neck area becomes more round. Hip circumference is usually around 40+ inches and waist circumference about 32+ inches. This is when the belly starts protruding over the waist. Hence the newfound popularity of mommy pants. “Better than a girdle”
Women at 40% Body Fat
At this body fat percentage, there will definitely be some health issues. The hips and thighs grow to a circumference of 42+ inches, the waist to 35+ inches, and thighs 25+ inches. I’ll mark this as dangerous but I am NOT a doctor.
Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart: ACE
The chart below from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) is one of the most commonly used body fat charts. Women tend to have a higher body fat percentage than men due to physiological differences such as hormones, breasts, and sexual organs. Women also need a higher amount of body fat in order to ovulate.
The medical field still argues over the perfect amount of body fat for optimal health. Research by Gallagher et. al. in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000) came to the following conclusions:
Men 20-40 years old with under 8% body fat are considered “underfat” (unhealthy)
Men 20-40 years old with under 8-19% body fat are considered healthy
Women 20-40 years old with under 21% body fat are considered “underfat” (unhealthy)
Women 20-40 years old with under 21-33% body fat are considered healthy
I’m not a doctor (and I don’t play one on this blog). I think body fat is just one measure of health. Stating a certain body fat level is “unhealthy” may not be accurate. If one looks at sumo wrestlers who have significant amounts of body fat, they have generally low cholesterol levels and live long healthy lives. At the same time, one can’t assume that someone thin is healthy. A woman at 5’2″ at 100 lbs can still have high cholesterol. We come in different shapes, sizes, and fat distribution profiles, and it is up to you and your (real) doctor to determine what that balance is for you.