While most medical professionals agree that a healthy rate of weight loss is about one to two pounds each week, there are no widely accepted guidelines for a healthy rate of body fat loss as measured in inches. Each individual has different body composition and height, making it difficult for medical professionals to determine a monolithic healthy recommendation of lost body fat inches that would work for the average, healthy adult. However, the American Council on Exercise recommends 1 percent body fat loss per month as a safe and attainable goal.
Decreasing Body Fat v. Weight Loss
It's a misnomer that losing body fat will immediately result in lower weight. For instance, some people, such as athletes, are already at an ideal weight but still want to lose inches of body fat. If you're exercising, you may find that you lose body fat but gain weight as you increase your muscle mass because muscle weighs more than fat. Therefore, if you eat healthier and exercise, you may find that you don't lose weight, or even gain a few pounds in muscle mass.
Healthy Body-Fat Percentage
Everybody needs a little fat on their bodies; fat is a necessary substance that provides warmth in cold weather and conducts basic and integral bodily functions. However, too much fat can cause health problems such as heart disease. The healthy amount of fat each person needs varies based on gender. Women need more body fat, as body fat is necessary to bear children, among other bodily functions. The average healthy woman has between 21 and 24 percent body fat, while the average man has about 14 to 17 percent body fat. Women with a body fat percentage above 32 and men above 25 are considered obese.
Calculating Ideal Body-Fat Percentage
You can calculate how much weight you must lose to attain your goal body-fat percentage using the following equation: desired body weight = pounds of fat from lean mass divided by one minus goal percentage of body fat. To attain this calculation, you will need to find out the percentage of body fat you have for your weight and determine how much of your total weight is from fat versus how much is from lean mass. For instance, an overweight woman has 32 percent body fat and weighs 190 pounds. Her goal is 25 percent body fat. First, determine how much of her body weight is from fat and how much is from lean mass by multiplying her overall weight, 190, from her current body fat percentage as a decimal, 0.32. Approximately 61 pounds of her weight is from body fat and 129 is from lean mass. Then, divide 129 pounds by 1-0.25, her ideal body fat percentage as a decimal, which is approximately 172 pounds. Subtract 190 pounds, her starting weight, from 172, her goal weight. She must lose 18 pounds to attain her goal body-fat percentage.
Getting Healthy Body-Fat Percentage
To obtain a healthy body-fat percentage, engage in exercise, including cardiovascular, resistance and weight-training exercises. The CDC recommends that the average adult engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, each week. In addition, eat a healthy, well-rounded diet, making at least half your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal, is recommended by the USDA.