Happy Three Women With Different Body Shapes And Appearance On Beige Background
Health & Wellness Resources

Decoding Body Fat Percentages: A Deep Dive into Health and Well-being

Take a look at what body fat percentages actually look like and explore the health benefits or risks attached. Plus what you may need to do in order to achieve a certain body shape. 


In my exploration of body fat percentage, I strive to uphold professional integrity and deeply honor the diversity of human experiences and bodies. My objective isn’t to define beauty or set standards for desirability. Instead, I seek to offer a non-judgmental perspective grounded in science, focusing on the typical behaviors and factors of individuals across different body fat percentages. I hope that with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions about your own health journey.

It’s well-established in scientific literature that women typically have a higher body fat percentage than men. This biological predisposition stems from a combination of factors. For one, women’s bodies are designed to support childbearing, which necessitates additional fat stores, especially in regions like the breasts, hips, and thighs. Furthermore, women generally have a lower basal metabolic rate, meaning they burn fewer calories at rest, partially due to a reduced propensity to sustain larger muscle mass. Hormonally, women produce higher amounts of oestrogen, a hormone that encourages fat storage, and lower amounts of testosterone, which aids in muscle building. These hormonal and anatomical distinctions mean women face unique challenges when it comes to achieving the same body fat percentages as men. However, it’s worth noting that a higher body fat percentage in women doesn’t necessarily translate to appearing less lean or fit. In fact, many women with higher body fat percentages still exude a lean and toned appearance, thanks to the unique distribution of their fat and muscle. This showcases the beautiful diversity of the human body and underscores the importance of not solely relying on numbers to determine fitness or health.

Our day-to-day choices and routines play a pivotal role in determining our body composition. To venture into a different body fat category, one’s habits should reflect those typical of that group. Consistency, in my findings, is truly the key. For example, if an individual has a high body fat percentage, it’s often linked to a consistent pattern of unhealthy eating. Conversely, those maintaining a healthier body weight typically uphold regular, health-oriented habits. If aiming for a specific body composition feels daunting, I encourage centering attention on fostering daily habits that lead to healthier and more fulfilling outcomes.

Every day is a canvas of choices that shape our well-being. The direction we choose and the commitment with which we pursue it can make a profound difference. As you continue reading, please bear in mind that while I may generalize certain characteristics, I deeply respect individual variations. I present a broader picture based on prevalent tendencies, but each person’s journey is singular and invaluable. For a journey toward better health, I’ve found that embracing consistency, patience, determination, resilience, and dedication is the path forward.


Large lady in a bikini. Morbidly obese +50% Body Fat
Large topless man. Overweight, morbidly obese +45% Body fat


People with this level of fat storage are at considerable risk to many health issues. Immediate action is required to reduce the high levels of subcutaneous and visceral fat. Depending on the person, aggressive styles of dieting may be advised by doctors and nutritionally qualified professionals.  

Major improvements and support is required. Nutritional and fitness knowledge is likely very very low. Routines, habits, behaviours and lifestyle are likely very destructive and often thoughtless. If real change is sustained this needs addressing. 

Positives ↑ 
  • Requires no thought to maintain
  • Eat and drink anything, in any amount
Negatives ↓
  • Lower life expectancy 
  • Low self-esteem, energy & mood
  • Low sleep quality & sex drive
  • Insulin resistant
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure,
  • Autoimmune disorders (psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, IBS etc
  • High risk of heart attack and stroke
Tend To Do More ↑
  • Eat mainly processed and convenient foods such as cakes, sweets, chocolate, pizzas, pastries etc
  • Eat to quickly. No time is taken to chew. Larger mouthfuls of food eaten at once
  • Eat big portions. Every meal surpasses a sensible amount of calories 
  • Often overeat calorically dense foods
  • Seek food often in the hedonic state (for emotion) and not the homeostatic state (for need) 
Tend To Do Less ↓
  • Eat nutrient dense foods 
  • Low protein diet 
  • Little movement. Nothing substantial
  • Standing up less
  • No exercise 
  • Sleep lots
  • Eat minimal whole foods
  • Listen to natural hunger cues 
  • Eat well beyond the point of satisfaction.


Larger lady in bikini +40% Body Fat
overweight topless man +30% Body Fat


Fat percentages at this level is again very dangerous to your health. Visually fat levels are excessive, its likely also that visceral fat is also very high which is extremely dangerous to your heart and organ health. 

Aggressive diet approaches may also be recommended. Depending on blood results some people may be fortunate enough to approach fat loss in a more gradual but purposeful manner, but quick action is needed. 

Nutritional and fitness knowledge needs to be given to help this person achieve and maintain better health. 

Positives ↑ 
  • Requires little to no thought to maintain
  • Eat anything, with minimal portion control
Negatives ↓
  • Lower life expectancy 
  • Sudden death
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Low energy & mood
  • Low quality sleep
  • Low sex drive
  • Insulin resistant
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Autoimmune disorders (psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, IBS etc)
  • Risk of heart attack and stroke 
Tend To Do More ↑
  • Eat lots of processed and convenient foods such as cakes, sweets, chocolate, pizzas, pastries etc
  • Eat to quickly. No time is taken to chew. Larger mouthfuls of food eaten at once
  • Eat big portions. Every meal surpasses a sensible amount of calories 
  • Often overeat calorically dense foods
  • Seek food often in the hedonic state (for emotion) and not the homeostatic state (for need) 
Tend To Do Less ↓
  • Eat little nutrient dense foods 
  • Low protein diet 
  • Little movement. Nothing substantial
  • Standing up less
  • No exercise 
  • Sleep lots
  • Eat minimal whole foods
  • Listen to natural hunger cues 
  • Eat to the point when they are satisfied. In fact satiety signals and pathways have been created to interpret a new, untrue level of satisfaction. Which drives overeating


Women +30% Body Fat


At this percentage you’re still at considerable risk to type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and strokes to name but a few. It’s typically easier to sustain this degree of health and body fat, but you’ll likely need to improve your nutritional and fitness knowledge that you can apply, in order to become healthier. It’s likely having a coach for guidance and accountability will considerable help you achieve better health in the short and long term. Often this group of people the nk about improving their health but wait to feel motivated. Spoiler alert; full be waiting a while. Find out more here about how to break this mindset and start achieving real positive change. 

Positives ↑
  • Requires minimal thought to maintain this level of health and physique 
  • Indulgence is sometimes managed 
  • Social occasions are easy to get involved with mainly because not much is restricted. 
  • Social occasions maybe avoided though, due to self-esteem. 
Negatives ↓
  • Anxiety and self-esteem issues can be higher in this group
  • A fear of exercise caused by the spotlight effect 
  • Some nutritional and fitness understanding but often poorly applied. 
  • History of fad diets and dieting “hacks”
  • Some risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Can experience thoughts of regret and self loathing after eating or drinking poorly.
Tend To Do More ↑
  • Eat processed foods and whole some foods equally. 
  • Adopt the “oh well I’ve done it now” mindset. 
  • Eat quickly and sometimes ignore or miss satiety cues. 
  • Eat bigger portions
  • Regular mindless eating.
  • Sometimes seek food for emotion and sometimes for hunger (hedonic / homeostatic.)
Tend To Do Less ↓
  • Little moving with some purposeful movement like outdoor walks etc. 
  • Little to no exercise which is often loathed, not enjoyed
  • Sleep more or less than is needed.
  • Eat minimal whole foods


Women 25-29% Body Fat


Slightly out of the range of what is considered “healthy.” Some risks of disease creep in. Type 2 diabetes, respiratory and cardiovascular issues amongst the most problematic.  

You can maintain this level of health with relative ease. Some limitations are needed but will be applied less often. People here will likely exercise some, socialise regularly which may included drinking alcohol and consuming highly palatable foods like takeaways and deserts. 


Positives ↑  
  • Energy levels will likely be good, but perhaps not sustained
  • Some thought and actions are required to maintain this physique 
  •  Energy levels are good, but may crash sometimes 
Negatives ↓
  • Nutrition & fitness knowledge will likely need improving. 
  • Inconsistent habits and behaviours 
  • Requires a small level of limitation
  • Maybe some self-esteem issues
  • May feel tired and sleep too much 
Tend To Do More ↑
  • Eat some whole foods and some processed foods
  • Less moderation with nutrition on weekends and evenings
  • Some intermittent exercise.   
  • A mixture of large and sensible food portions 
Tend To Do Less ↓
  • Some moving & exercise, but to no real vigour 
  • Sleep correct amount most of the time 
  • Eat some whole foods and some processed foods. 



An optimal and comfortable fat range for most. A health category that is recommended for most people. It will defiantly require mindfulness and limitations, but be minimally impacting on your effort levels and time. Once you reach this level of health it can become less of a battle to maintain. Energy and happiness should be good. A good knowledge of exercise and nutrition, plus regularly applying these will help you stay within this area of the spectrum. This fat percentage is achievable for most people.  

Positives ↑
  • Requires moderate thought and actions to maintain this level of health and physique 
  • A desired physique for many. 
  • Sustained energy mostly
  • Good sleep quality, healthy sex drive and self esteem  
  • Likely have good habits and routines 
  • Adjusted and built for modern day life with good balance to all health domains 
  • Mental and physical health is likely optimised 
Negatives ↓
  • Some food limitations in place which are imposed daily 
  • May drink alcohol but not too much 
  • May require nutritional and fitness coaching to sustain health and wellness
  • Some thought and effort is required to plan meals correctly.
Tend To Do More ↑
  • Exercise and active movement 
  • Eat predominantly well and limit processed foods. 
  • Socialise but not over indulge too much 
  • Have a good balance in their lives
  • Will have an active lifestyle 
  • Be able to intuitively eat, understanding when they are truly satisfied.
Tend To Do Less ↓
  • Eat some processed food but mainly nutrient dense whole foods.
  • Less sitting down.


Women 19-23% Body Fat


Again another optimal level of health although slightly harder to maintain for some. It will require considerable thought and limitation. WIth the right knowledge and application many people can get near this level oh health. It becomes harder as you age because muscle mass is difficult to maintain, which result in a lower metabolic ability. 

Positives ↑ 
  • Requires considerable thought to maintain this physique 
  • Will have a great understanding of nutrition and exercise
  • Feel mainly energised and sleep well mostly 
  •  Often desired physique.
  • Minimal risk of developing eating disorder and mental health issues. 
Negatives ↓
  • Considerable thought is required regularly to maintain a health and physique 
  • Exercise and movement can take time away from other activities
  • Mental health is less of a concern but some may experience disorders eating to maintain lower levels of fat 
  • Some energy and sleep disturbances possibly 
Tend To Do More ↑
  • Will track their food using apps like MFP
  •  Sometimes use calorie cycling and carb loading
  • Eat a nutrient dense diet and little processed foods 
  • “Cheat meals” / “refuel days” or similar may be added
  • Exercise regularly to a good standard
  • Have and active lifestyle  
  • Adequate sleep
Tend To Do Less ↓
  • Little to no alcohol. Usually only on the weekend or special occasions 
  • Eat some processed foods, infrequently 
  • Will sit dow less often. 
  • Socialise but can do so with balance and control

Body Typical Of: ATHLETES, cyclists, SWIMMERS,


For some remaining in this body fat percentage is comfortable and thereof sustainable. For others however, it may be a daily battle. It largely depends on your personal set point, which is often dictated by genetics and diet history. If you’re comfortable with this level of body fat then it’s likely you’ll stay healthy and happy. If not, you may be at risk of developing psychological and physical problems. Such as eating disorders (binge eating, bulimia, anorexia). Sleep may be challenging and energy and mood levels low. 

If you are a professional athlete or serious competitor then you may need / want to stay within this fat percentage range. If not its perhaps advisable to go up a little with your fat, where you might find this more comfortable and sustainable. Eating and living well should be as least demanding as possible. 

Positives ↑ 
  • Will likely have what many perceive to be a desired physique. Abs will likely show.
  • General movement is very easy
  • Health is likely good, due to “cleaner” living 
  •  Will have a great understand of nutrition and fitness, plus be able to adapt that to their needs and goals. (often overseen by trained coaches).
Negatives ↓
  • Social occasions and eating out may be more problematic 
  • Lots of thought is required to plan meals and exercise.
  • Time limitations because of training demands
  • Other hobbies and interests may be considerably limited  
  • Some likely stress on relational health 
  • Mood and energy may fluctuate
  • Mental health issue can be common. Eating disorders, depression etc
Tend To Do More ↑
  • Will likely use calorie cycling and carb in conjunction with their training and workouts   
  • Eat a very good diet. high in nutrients. Low to no processed foods
  • Will track their food using apps like MFP
Tend To Do Less ↓
  • No alcohol, except on very rare occasions
  • Rarely eat processed foods, particular when competing
  • Some socialising and relaxing, but are very mindful about over indulging and will rarely deviate from their goals


Women at -14% Body fat
Man at -5% Body Fat


Reaching body fat levels this low can be very dangerous. There is a considerable risk of heart and organ failure. Sever dehydration can cause significant cognitive issues and even be fatal. Your body needs some fat storage to maintain good mental and physical health.

If dropping your fat levels to this degree is something you are considering, perhaps as a personal goal etc. Then it’s advisable you do so under the strict guidance of your GP and an experienced coach(s). There is little room for error and complications could result in death. Which sadly its seen far too often with body building competitors. Never should you aim to keep your body fat levels this low for long. Body builders etc underhand that they need to regain weight to increase health and lower health risks to them. A continued fat percentage in the range will increase major risks to you.  

Positives ↑ 
  • For some a sense of achievement is gained
  • Clothes fit and feel more comfortable 
  • An “exotically lean” physique. Abs greatly protrude. Muscle fibres can clearly be seen 
  • Will have an immaculate  understanding of nutrition and fitness and know exactly when apply certain principles. (often overseen by trained coaches).
Negatives ↓
  • Sudden death
  • Always hungry, low energy, moody & emotional
  • High risk of developing eating disorders and other mental health issues 
  • Nutrition and exercise dominates their lives 
  • For women amenorrhea
  • For men low testosterone 
  • Relationships may become strained 
  • Social life is hard to maintain
  • Sex drive has all but gone 
  • Training commitments take most of your time
Tend To Do More ↑
  • Meticulously track and weigh food
  • Only eat carbs, fats & calories in relation to their training. 
  • Only eat food to the required amount
  • Homeostatic eating only never hedonic.
  • Intense exercise 6-7 days per week, often twice per day. At least 60 minutes or more
  • Sleep the required amount.
  • Build lives around health & fitness
Tend To Do Less ↓
  • No Alcohol
  • Never eat processed foods.
  • Relaxing and socialising is very limited 

The run down

In reflecting upon body fat percentages and overall health, it’s imperative to recognise that mental or physical well-being can fluctuate irrespective of these numbers. Scientifically, certain health risks do escalate as we veer towards the extremities of the health spectrum. For those seeking optimal health and happiness, our recommendation is a harmonious approach to both nutrition and fitness.

This article aims not to prescribe, but to illuminate correlations between habitual actions, behaviors, and their potential outcomes. Use this knowledge as a lens to better gauge the shifts you might consider. However, let’s challenge the pervasive fitness narrative that equates ‘lean’ with ‘optimal.’ Balance is the foundational cornerstone. Body fat, in appropriate amounts, is integral to holistic health.

It’s essential to grasp that every health level has its trade-offs. Discerning your priorities and understanding these nuances is pivotal. Both ends of the health spectrum—excess and deficiency—hold their perils. Striving for optimal health necessitates a tapestry of moderation, informed habits, and a discerning comprehension of healthful choices. Should you seek guidance on this journey, consider engaging with a nutrition or fitness coach.

Remember: Your health profile, whether categorised as morbidly obese, obese, overweight, within a healthy range, or underweight, is largely a reflection of your sustained actions. Owning this reality is the cornerstone of transformative change. The impetus for such change rests within you, but the journey needn’t be solitary. Surround yourself with supportive individuals who champion your aspirations.

Health and contentment are multifaceted. External judgment or expectations shouldn’t dictate your path. Your health and happiness should be paramount in your own eyes. Wherever you stand today, recognise that you wield the power to chart your future. And while doing so…

Prioritise consistency, patience, determination, resilience, and dedication. However, embark on this journey not to fit an external mould, but to nurture an inner vitality that resonates genuinely with you.