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What do different body fat percentages look like on different people?

Many members of the community have asked questions and expressed concerns about the accuracy of our body fat – and for good reason!

Body fat is notoriously difficult to measure, especially given the extreme variability of body shapes, body sizes, and fat vs. muscle distributions.

Furthermore, body fat is very sensitive. I’ve personally come away from many DXA scans despondent about the number I received, even though I know that I am healthy and fit. It’s really tempting to get angry, frustrated, or dismiss the number as untrue – and sometimes that is certainly the case as body fat is not a perfect or precise science. We as a company have learned a great deal over the past three years about bodies, body fat, and how the numbers do and (often) do not mesh with our preconceptions about what bodies at different body fat percentages should look like.

We hear your concerns – we’ve had many of the same questions as we’ve been developing and validating Naked. To help get you up to speed on our learnings, I created this blog post to illustrate how different body fat percentages can look on different people. Although this logic stands for men and women alike, given that we’ve received more feedback about scans of females, we’re going to tackle women first!

I will provide commentary for each image separately, but as you are looking through the visuals below, here are a few key takeaways I’d like to highlight:

1. Every single body is unique.

Take a minute to think about this: literally no two bodies are the same. Even identical twins are different! Bodies come in hugely different shapes, sizes, colors, and packages. We’ve seen this first hand as we’ve scanned thousands of people.

Our uniqueness is a wonderful part of being a human but also makes it incredibly challenging to quantify health or fitness in a way that conveys a singular meaning for all people. While it’s tempting to compare your body and body fat percentage to your best friend, sibling, or training partner, it’s important to remember that you can really only compare you to yourself.

2. Women (and men!) with the same body fat percentage can look wildly different!

Just because two people both receive a 25% body fat reading on Naked or DXA (or any method, for that matter!) doesn’t mean their bodies look the same – or should! Their weight may be drastically different, they may weigh the same but distribute fat differently, they could be very muscular with fat, or very lean with little fat.

This is why googling “what does 25% body fat look like” can be so misleading! It’s just not that simple – there’s no one way a person at a single body fat looks. And this doesn’t even account for the fact that google images (like the one below) aren’t clear on how they calculate body fat – I’d be willing to bet it’s not using a clinically validated method like DXA.

These graphics are not accurate in depicting the true diversity in bodies at different body fat levels

3. It is possible to be very fit at many different body fat percentages.

All of the women in the images below exercise. Many of them exercise 5+ times a week. These women are runners, triathletes, tennis players, weight lifters, dancers, and more. Many of them have visible abs. The bottom line? Being fit, or thin, or having a flat stomach, or even a thigh gap does not mean your body fat percentage will be under 20, under 25, or even under 30.

4. Different methods will yield different (and sometimes wildly different!) numbers.

As we’ve written a whole series on this topic, I won’t go too much into depth here – but remember that body fat is an estimation. Each method (DXA, dunk tank, Naked, bioimpedance, calipers) is derived from another method and is subject to a wide variety of error sources. Calipers and bioimpedance scales found in the home nearly always underestimate clinically-used methods such as DXA and dunk tank. Furthermore, methods may be better suited for some body types than others – DXA, for example, tends to overestimate elite athletes and underestimate obese individuals, while Naked tends to overestimate curvier women compared to DXA. Each method is continually working to mitigate these inconsistencies, but it is a considerable challenge. Thus, we emphasize the importance of picking a single method and sticking with it. This will ensure that you are able to best measure change over time in a valid way.

5. Medical definitions of healthy body fat may need rethinking, especially for women.

Body fat, like weight, is a proxy for rather than a direct measurement of health. Taking a broader view, body mass index (a metric that divides weight in kilograms by height in squared meters) on the population level is great for predicting cardiovascular disease, but is awful at the individual level. Body fat is better than weight or BMI at the individual level, but still only captures one small piece of body health. Literature shows more and more that body shape, proportions of fat distribution from region to region, and visceral fat levels are better indicators of health than body fat alone. This means that we might want to either redefine the ranges for healthy body fat, or conjure a new and more powerful method to classify body health for the individual.

Note: this post includes a small sample of people who have expressly granted their permission to have their scans and DXA values shared. If you’re interested in having a scan shared in this post, please let us know!

Body fat of 25-26%

These two women are approximately the same weight, with slightly different DXAs, and very similar body fat percentages as provided by Naked. As you can see, despite the similarities in metrics, their body shapes are quite different, reflecting their difference in training methods — with the woman on the left participating in more strength training and the woman on the right focusing more on cardiovascular endurance.

Body fat of ~27%

Like the two women above, these two have very similar weights and body fat percentages. They both have visible abdominal muscles, but their muscle and fat distributions are rather different. The woman on the left is a weightlifter, while the one on the right is a triathlete.

Body fat of ~29%

These two women have the same body fat percentage, but almost a 25 lb difference. Both are athletes (actually, both are competitive tennis players!) with visibly strong core strength!

Body fat of 30% +

These three women are all regular exercisers with similar body fat percentages despite drastically different weights and distributions of fat and lean mass.

Body Labs

Six different women, all 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds with a BMI of 22.8. You’d think they probably look pretty similar, right?

Take a look at the chart of 3-D body scans above, created for by New York-based startup Body Labs, and you’ll see that even though these women have the same height and weight, placing them at normal or healthy weight on the BMI scale, their bodies look nothing alike.

That’s because the way that body mass is distributed over the body, and the makeup of that body mass (whether it’s fat or muscle), can change from person to person. If you compare the women’s torso shapes on the chart, you’ll see how drastic those distinctions can be.

This chart, and one similar to it published recently by The New York Times, challenges the notion that BMI is an accurate measure of an individual’s health and fitness, as anyone who’s ever strength-trained and gained muscle weight already knows.

“You can be an athlete in great shape and be deemed overweight or even obese,” says Jonathan Schwartz, the director of products at Body Labs. “Or you could have an average BMI but carry a significantly higher amount of mass in your torso, which as some studies show can be a predictor of health risks such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.”

It’s a good reminder to not rely solely on BMI when it comes to gauging your health. There’s more to it than just a few numbers.

Follow Helin on Twitter and Instagram.

Helin Jung Helin Jung is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

Being a girl comes with constant comparing yourself to other people, which is extremely tough. At times I think to myself why do some girls look skinnier than me and we wear the same size? Do you ever wonder why sometimes we all may wear the same size or weigh the same and look completely different?


Weight is distributed differently amongst individuals. For example, these women both weigh 165 lbs but they each carry the weight differently. The first lady is muscular in her midsection and the second lady carries her weight in her breast. According to this article, muscle and fat have the exact same weight, but muscle is denser, which makes it appear heavier. Quite often are people considered overweight because of the amount of muscle they have.

Even with the same Body Mass Index or BMI for short women can look completely different. BMI is a person’s weight divided by their height. Sometimes people determine certain health issued from a high BMI. However a person’s BMI cannot be the determining factor in someone’s health because two people could share the same one and have different concerns. So remember be happy with how your weight looks on YOU!


“Body Mass Index (BMI).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 May 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2016.


Shy, Leta. “Lost the Inches but Not the Weight? Here’s Why.” RSS. POPSUGAR, 13 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2016.


PIC: Here’s How The Same Weight And BMI Can Look TOTALLY Different On Six Different Women

While it’s safe to say most women aim to stay in a healthy weight range, the latest graph proves that weight and BMI aren’t a great indication for body shape or ideals.

A 3-D chart created for Cosmopolitan decided to put this theory to the test – showcasing how six women who may have the same height and weight, (placing them at normal or healthy weight on the BMI scale) all have bodies that look nothing alike.

The six women, all 5ft 7 and 145 pounds, have an identical BMI of 22.8.

Image via Cosmopolitan

Designed by New York company Body Labs, the chart proves that weight distribution is down to physical make-up and body mass and muscle. The graph also shows how BMI isn’t an accurate measure of an individual’s health and fitness, and does little to show long-term health of the women involved.

Explaining the reason behind designing the tell-tale design, Jonathan Schwartz, the director of products at Body Labs said:

“You can be an athlete in great shape and be deemed overweight or even obese.

Olympics athlete Jessica Ennis is classed ‘overweight’ on the BMI chart

“Or you could have an average BMI but carry a significantly higher amount of mass in your torso, which as some studies show can be a predictor of health risks such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.”

So the best advice to take from this?

Don’t base your health on one number on the scale, or a BMI. It’s all about taking the best care possible for your body.

Peter Boylan joins us on Girls With Goals this week to talk about his new book

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Should You Be Working Out for Your Body Type?

Apples, hourglasses, endomorphs—the terminology around body types never ends, nor fails to be semi-confusing. But, in the fitness world, it’s all about understanding how your body might respond to certain workouts, routines, or diet changes, based on physical structure or genetic makeup. Of course, there are no hard-and-fast rules to what your body can achieve, and you should always feel empowered to exercise in whatever way suits you. Here’s what a few experts think about body types in general, and whether working out for body type is worth your while.

Aaptiv has workouts for every body type. Check them out here.

What are all the different body types?

Tracee Badway, a yoga instructor at Studio Three in Chicago, generally sees a few common body types: naturally thin and long, athletic and stocky, and soft and curvy. Some people classify themselves using fruit—saying you’re an “apple” or “pear” shape—or familiar shapes—like having a “square,” “inverted triangle,” or “hourglass” figure. And, based on a theory by Psychologist William Sheldon, there are three main categories of body types: endomorph, ectomorph, and mesomorph. For the most part, though, these are all variations on the same refrain.

“Ectomorph individuals have always been skinny, and have a difficult time gaining weight,” explains Dr. Alex Robles of New York Presbyterian Hospital. “Their joints are really small and they can often be considered frail. Endomorphs are the opposite; they’re generally bigger, with larger joints, and can gain weight very easily. Mesomorphs are right in the middle. They are the type of people who naturally look athletic, and can gain or lose weight relatively easily.”

As generalizations, though, none of these body types may describe your specific body shape perfectly. “Genetically speaking, we are completely different than the person working out next to us, and when it comes to how a body reacts to exercise, we are just as diverse,” Badway says. “Some people naturally have more muscle, while others carry weight in certain areas, or are naturally thin. If an individual tends to build muscle quickly and is looking for a leaner look, that individual should incorporate cardio and yoga with their strength training routine, versus lifting weights on a daily basis. A leaner body type looking to gain muscle should focus more on strength training and less on cardio.”

Pro tip: Aaptiv offers both cardio and strength training classes across multiple categories.

Can you tailor your workout and diet for a particular body type?

Dr. Robles says yes. Here’s what he recommends for each type:


  • Smaller joints will not adapt to stressful work as quickly as other body types.
  • Use large compound movements that train multiple muscle groups at once, versus isolation exercises, like bicep curls.
  • Keep sets and reps at a moderate range, like three sets of five to ten reps.
  • Plan for adequate recovery in between workouts.
  • Work out three to four times a week, at max.


  • Larger frame can tolerate high work volume.
  • Perform higher rep sets, as muscles and joints won’t fatigue as easily.
  • Focus on compound exercises, and focus less on the amount of weight.
  • Explore high-intensity interval training to hit a lot of reps in a short timeframe.
  • Keep sets and reps in ranges of three to four sets of 12+ reps.
  • Work out four times a week.


  • Body burns fat and gains muscle rather quickly, so all kinds of training methods are appropriate.
  • Try a wide range of sets and reps to see results.
  • Work out four times a week.

Consider your proportions.

On the other hand, NYC-based Personal Trainer James Shapiro says that he doesn’t rely on body types to help people craft workouts. Rather, he likes to help each person figure out how their body proportions might require adjustments, in order to perform movements properly.

“I might work with one person who has a shorter torso and long legs, while the next person might be shorter in total height with a normal torso and shorter legs,” he states. “From that perspective, you have to adjust the exercise selections. For example, someone with long femurs and legs might be better off taking a sumo position than traditional stance for the deadlift, because the range of motion is longer and the lower back becomes less stressed during the motion.”

Badway falls somewhere in between. In her opinion, there are naturally thin people who might lift weights, but not put on muscle quickly, versus naturally athletic people who immediately bulk up as soon as they focus on weight lifting. And, it’s the same regarding eating for your body type, as Badway says two people with different body types can eat the same foods, like carbs, yet respond completely differently.

Workout for your goals—not your body type.

All in all, working out for body type isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, and certainly shouldn’t dictate how you choose to exercise, advises Aaptiv Trainer Benjamin Green. He also wants people to focus on appreciating the body they have, first and foremost.

“I believe anyone should work out for the goal they want to achieve,” he says. “If you want to run a 5k, then make that your goal. I don’t like the idea of working out for a particular body type because if you don’t receive the you want, you’ll always be unhappy with your body. If you want to look different, then put in the hard work to get the results. Remember, Rome wasn’t built overnight.”

“Exercise should be a hobby that makes you feel good,” Badway concludes, “as well as be a stepping stone toward individual health goals. If your workouts are bringing joy to your life and allowing you to find harmony and balance, then you’re doing something right.”

Aaptiv can help you reach those health goals, with curated that are tailored to meet your needs.

5 Reasons Why Sleeping On The Job Is Actually A GOOD Thing

We always believe that the easiest way to know if we gained or lost weight is through the scale. Our logic is quite simple: when you gained weight that means you’re fat, and when you lost weight that means you’re slimmer.

However, it’s not always the case. You don’t have to be a slave of your scale because weight is just a number. Here are 20 before and after photos that prove your weight is meaningless.

1. You don’t have to lose a hundred pounds to see the difference.
2. “Screw the scale, it legitimately means nothing. It has never reflected my healthiness or fitness at all.”
3. Less fat, more muscle.
4. The confidence says it all. I didn’t even notice the listed weight.
5. Do what works for your body. Weight loss trends are not for everyone.
6. Weight gain never looked this good.
7. Heavier but fitter. No complaints here.
8. We should stop giving the scale too much power over us.
9. Pictures are more reliable than scales.
10. “My body composition is completely different though I weight eight pounds more now.”
11. Same weight, new body.
12. Wanting to have a healthier lifestyle will always be the best option.
13. Rules schmules.
14. Stronger and happier. Isn’t that what we all wanted?
15. “I started to care less about what I weighed, and more about how I felt.”
16. Not heavier, not lighter, but much happier.
17. Time to throw the scale.
18. Weight is just a number.
19. Confidence is sexy.
20. Your weight doesn’t matter.

These inspiring before and after photos are reminding us that sometimes losing two pounds is enough to see the results. And most of the time, gaining weight merely means gaining muscles.

Just as long as you have been consistent with your workout and healthy eating, then you’ll be on your way in achieving the best version of yourself. Always remember that weight is not a good measurement of progress.

Same weight different body

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