Maintain Safe Body Fat Levels

 Maintaining critical body fat levels is essential for optimal body functioning.

These levels are called safe body fat levels. The term ‘safe’ implies that body fat above or below these levels can be quite dangerous for the body.

Determining the Body Fat Level

The body fat level is indicated by the fat percentage – ratio of the weight of a person’s fat to the person’s total weight.

The body has two types of fats – essential fats and storage fats and both are considered for calculating the fat percentage.

The essential fats help the body perform crucial functions like reproduction and other hormonal functions. They serve as catalysts to facilitate certain critical body functions.

Storage fats are stored in the adipose tissue and insulate the body and protect organs like heart, liver and abdomen.

What are Safe Body Fat Levels

The safe body fat level is the minimum fat percentage the body needs to maintain for optimal functioning.

This value for men is 3-5%, while for women it is slightly higher at 8-12%. The higher levels for women are driven by the body’s excess demand for fats during child bearing and other hormonal activities.

While these are the safe (critical) body fat levels, the healthy body fat percentage is a different value and varies with age, gender, body composition, lifestyle and other parameters. For healthy men, it is between 8-19%, and for healthy women, the values range from 21-33%.

Need to Maintain Safe Body Fat Levels

Having very high percentage of body fat can cause following problems:

  • Increased risk of diabetes as insulin sensitivity is reduced in the midst of excess fats.
  • Increased risk of heart disease as there are greater chances of fat deposition on cardiac arterial walls. High fat levels also increase the cholesterol levels that can be detrimental to the heart.
  • Compromised functioning of essential organs like liver and kidney because they have to work through the surrounding fatty layers.
  • You face continuous health issues like joint pain, pain in lower extremities because your legs and hips are carrying far too much weight.


Very low body fat levels are also harmful for the body because

  • Protection to the essential organs like chest, abdomen etc gets compromised, leaving them vulnerable to injury.
  • Hormonal functions are affected, which can result in menstrual problems and difficulty to conceive in women.
  • Increases the risk of osteoporosis, as without the fatty cushion, the chances of brittle bones breaking are further enhanced.
  • You experience nutritional insufficiencies because certain vitamins are available only in a fatty base. If your fat levels are low, availability of such nutrients is naturally compromised.
  • You experience exhaustion and lethargy because fats are an important source of energy for the body.

There are several ways to calculate your current body fat percentage.

For high body fat levels, focus on weight loss techniques that achieve significant fat burning, as opposed to only appetite suppression.

For low body fat levels, consult a nutritionist to eat the right foods to build up the body fat levels. Continue regular exercise to feel good.

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