Everything you need to know about body fat percentage & how to lose it

Everything you need to know about body fat percentage & how to lose it


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is defined as abnormally elevated fat composition with an increased risk of health issues.

In the United Kingdom, obesity has become a public health problem. More than 68% of men are overweight or obese. Women are doing slightly better, with 60% being in the overweight or obese categories. However, these numbers are still catastrophic.

Unfortunately, obesity is a risk factor for numerous chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and cancer.

The worst part is that these numbers are getting worse every year. Middle-income countries reported a significant increase in the prevalence of obesity and obesity-associated diseases in the last decade.

Most people rely on the number they see on the scale to determine how fit they are. In reality, this is a big mistake! Your weight could be in the normal range, but you can still be metabolically obese. In other words, your body composition has more fat than recommended. For this reason, it is more important than ever to focus on your body fat percentage.

In this article, we will briefly cover how you can measure your body fat percentage, then switch gears to how to accelerate your metabolism to lose fat.

How to calculate your body fat percentage

Measuring body fat percentage can be done through various methods, including:

  • Air displacement plethysmography (Bod Pod)
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)
  • Hydrostatic weighing
  • 3-D body scanners

However, since these methods are expensive and not accessible to everyone, let us discuss something you can all do at home:

Skinfold calipers

This method is extremely popular in the field of fitness. You will be able to measure your body fat percentage by yourself or with the help of a trained professional.

We should not that getting the help of a trained professional will increase the accuracy of the results. If you opt for this option, just make sure to ask the same person to do the measurement every time.

Other methods

If the option above is not possible, you can still measure your body fat percentage with other methods. For instance, body circumference and body fat scales can give you a relatively accurate measurement of your fat percentage.

Note that these methods may not be as accurate as skinfold measurements. However, they are still great options, especially when you are tracking your progress.

How to boost your metabolism and reduce your body fat percentage

The term metabolism refers to the myriad of biochemical reactions that occur in your body every second. Some of these reactions lead to the production of new substances (i.e., anabolism), whereas others break down complex molecules (i.e., catabolism).

When metabolism slows down, you will undoubtedly gain weight as the cells become less efficient at breaking down glucose and fatty acids.

What is the basal metabolic rate?

The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is a numerical parameter used by doctors and nutritionists to estimate the number of calories your body needs to maintain minimal functionality.

BMR is subject to several factors that could either boost it or slow it down, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Body type (e.g., weight, height)
  • Lean muscle mass
  • Degree of physical activity
  • Diet
  • Genetics

Boosting BMR will translate into less body fat and more muscle mass, which is crucial for everyone. One common factor that slows down metabolism is rapid weight loss. The body interprets this situation as a state of starvation.

According to your primitive brain, the only reason you would lose this much weight in a short time is being trapped in a cave while a bear is blocking the exit. As a result, it slows down metabolism in an attempt to preserve energy.

How to boost metabolism

Watch what you eat

Eating a diet that consists of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables will inadvertently speed up your metabolism.

To take this to the next level, try to include foods with BMR-boosting properties.

For instance, scientists found that green tea contains substances known as catechins, which boost lipolysis (i.e., fat burning) during physical activity.

Green tea also gets rid of pro-inflammatory cytokines found in the blood and gut, further contributing to its metabolic-boosting effect.

Note that severe caloric deficit can slow down BMR since your body considers the lack of food a sign of distress.

Stay active

Regular physical activity is extremely effective at increasing your metabolism. More specifically, weight lifting is the optimal way to prevent the breakdown of your muscles.

A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, is a real enemy of BMR that should be avoided at all costs.

For instance, instead of driving to the local grocery store, go for a walk. Additionally, try to do the chores of your house by yourself. Trim the backyard yourself instead of seeking the help of another person.

Include specific nutrients in your diet

There are primarily three mechanisms to boost your metabolism:

  • Directly act on fat metabolism
  • Support thyroid hormone production
  • Boost thermogenic metabolism

For each of these mechanisms, you can find multiple nutrients that boost them. For example, tyrosine, iodine, and selenium all help in the production of T3 and T4. These thyroid hormones will directly act on the cells to boost the rate of metabolism. You can find these nutrients in beef, pork, salmon, Brazil nuts, tuna, cranberries, and seaweed.

On the other hand, chlorogenic acid and ECGC accelerate the breakdown of fatty acids stored in the belly area.

Finally, capsaicin activates certain receptors that lead to an increase in thermogenic metabolism. In other words, the cells will produce more energy when burning macronutrients. Capsaicin is found in peppers.

Takeaway message

Calculating body fat percentage can provide us with great insight into your body composition. Your BMI can be in the normal range but you might be metabolically obese.

We hope that this article managed to highlight the concept of body fat percentage and how it plays a role in your health.

Remember to check out our fitness journals which will help you lose body fat by tracking your meals and workouts.

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