Expert Q&A

Body fat percentage: What’s an acceptable range for women?

I just turned 40 and I feel so fat. What’s a desirable body fat percentage? -Joyce from Missouri

Body fat percentage indicates the amount of fat that’s in your body. If you are 140 pounds and 10% fat, this means that your body consists of 14 pounds fat and 126 pounds lean body mass (bone, muscle, organ tissue, and blood).

A certain amount of fat is essential. Fat regulates body temperature, cushions our organs, and stores energy. The table below shows body fat ranges. When you are measured for body fat via calipers, bioelectrical impedance, or the BOD POD compare your numbers to the ones in the table. Strive to have a body fat percentage in the acceptable range. Better yet, go for the gold and attain a body fat percentage in the fitness range!



Women (% fat)

Essential Fat









32% plus

Source: American Council on Exercise



Cindy Guirino, RD/LD, CDE, CNSD, ACE PT
Contributing Expert

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