Every tissue in your body (including muscle, bodyfat, your heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, bones, water, minerals etc.) weighs a given amount. We could (conceivably anyhow) take each of them out of your body, plop them on a scale and find out how much they weigh. Your total bodyweight is comprised of the weight of every one of those tissues. But only some portion of your total weight is fat
For this reason, researchers and techie types frequently divide the body into two (or more) components including fat mass (the sum total of the bodyfat you have on your body) and lean body mass (everything else). While there are different 'types' of bodyfat (a topic to be discussed in an upcoming book project), this is more detail than we need.
Let's say that we could magically determine the weight of only your fat cells. Of course, we know your total weight by throwing you on a scale. By dividing the total amount of fat into the total bodyweight, you can determine a bodyfat percentage which represents the percentage of your total weight is fat.
Lean athletes might only have 5-10% bodyfat, meaning that only 5-10% of their total weight is fat. So a 200 pound athlete with 10% bodyfat is carrying 20 lbs. (200 * 0.10 = 20) of bodyfat. The remaining 180 pounds (200 total pounds - 20 pounds of fat weight = 180 lbs.) is muscle, organs, bones, water, etc. Researchers call the remaining 180 pounds lean body mass or LBM. I'll be using LBM a lot so make sure and remember what it means: LBM is lean body mass, the amount of your body that is not fat.
In cases of extreme obesity, a bodyfat percentage of 40-50% or higher is not unheard of. Meaning that nearly one-half of that person's total weight is fat. A 400 pound person with 50% bodyfat is carrying 200 lbs. of bodyfat. The other 200 pounds is muscle, organs, bones, etc. Again, 200 pounds of LBM along with 200 pounds of fat.
Most people fall somewhere between these two extremes. An average male may carry from 18-23% bodyfat and an average female somewhere between 25-30% bodyfat. So a male at 180 lbs. and 20% bodyfat is carrying 36 pounds of fat and the rest of his weight (144 lbs.) is LBM. A 150 pound female at 30% bodyfat has 50 pounds of bodyfat and 100 pounds of LBM.
Healthy levels of bodyfat are somewhat up to debate but most 'authorities' recommend 11-18% as being optimally healthy for males and 18-25% as being optimal for females. And, yes, this means that being too lean can have its own set of health problems as well but being too lean is generally not the problem for the average diet book reader (I'm not trying to be mean here, just making a statement of fact).
I want to point out that even if you never achieve 'healthy' bodyfat levels, even a small fat loss (10% of your current weight) can vastly improve health. So if you currently weigh 250 and lose even 25 lbs. and keep it off long-term, you will be healthier even if you are still above 'optimal' bodyfat percentage levels.
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