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High Body Fat Percentage: Causes, Diet, and Fitness Solutions

High Body Fat Percentage: Causes, Diet, and Fitness Solutions


Why Is Your Weight Normal While Your Body Fat Percentage Is High?

Have you ever had an experience like this:

You step on the scale and are pleased with the number displayed,

but were shocked when you learned your body fat percentage?

We all know that,

  • Total energy intake > energy expenditure = obesity
  • Total energy intake < energy expenditure = slimness
  • Total energy intake = energy expenditure = normal weight

BMI (Body Mass Index), widely used internationally, serves as a standard measure to assess body weight and overall health.

The calculation formula is:

BMI = weight ÷ height². (Weight unit: KG; height unit: meters)

BMI = weight ÷ height²

Image source: Wikipedia

BMI Table For Adults

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an adult's body weight based on BMI readings. It is suitable for both men and women aged 20 and up.


BMI range - kg/m2

Severe Thinness

< 16

Moderate Thinness

16 - 17

Mild Thinness

17 - 18.5


18.5 - 25


25 - 30

Obese Class I

30 - 35

Obese Class II

35 - 40

Obese Class III

> 40


It's crucial to remember that BMI is only one indicator of weight and health hazards.

it doesn't directly measure body fat and doesn't provide a comprehensive picture of an individual's health status.

The numerical assessment of "normal" doesn't equate to "optimal health.“

A body composition analysis may reveal that a large number of people have poor muscle mass and excessive body fat.

So why is my body fat percentage high even though my weight is normal?

The study found that, while total energy intake and expenditure are balanced, the intake ratio for the three primary energy-supplying nutrients is not appropriate.

Four Sources of Energy Intake:

According to Nutrition and Health - Energy and Protein published by the Centre for Food Safety of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, the three main nutrients that provide energy are:

  • Carbohydrates, which provide 4 kcal per gram.
  • Proteins, which provide 4 kcal per gram.
  • Fats, which provide 9 kcal per gram.

However, frequent alcohol drinkers have a fourth source of energy—alcohol, which provides 7 kcal per gram.

For example, a 500ml bottle of beer with an alcohol content of 4% contains 20 grams of alcohol (500ml * 4%).

This 20 grams of alcohol can produce 140 kcal of energy (20g * 7 kcal/g)!

In contrast, 1 gram of carbohydrate produces 4 kcal of energy,

so 140 kcal is equivalent to 35 grams of carbohydrates (140 kcal / 4 kcal/g).

Drinking one bottle of beer is equivalent to consuming 35 grams of carbohydrates.

Think back to the following:

How many beers would you drink during a meal with friends?

Do the math yourself!

These extra calories will turn into fat and be stored around the abdomen, making your belly continue to swell, if they are not broken down over time.

How to Calculate Your Daily Energy Requirements

Many people are curious about how much energy they need every day.

Below are the general principles, followed by an example so you can do the calculation yourself.

The energy you consume is calculated based on your expenditure, the main parameters are:

1. Height and Weight:

Standard weight is calculated as follows:

Standard weight = height (cm) - 105;

 this calculation applies to both men and women.

2. Activity Level:

  • Light manual laborers consume 30 kcal per kilogram of standard body weight.
  • Moderate manual laborers consume 35 kcal.
  • Heavy manual laborers consume 40 kcal.
  • People who are bedridden for a long time consume 25 kcal per kilogram of standard body weight.

Please note that these are not absolute values. For example, if a light laborer is overweight, the energy calculation should be reduced by 5 kcal, that is, 25 kcal per kg of standard body weight.

3. Ratio of the Three Major Energy Sources:

Most nutrition books recommend the following ratios for the three major energy sources:

  • Protein 10%-15%
  • Fat 25%-30%
  • Carbohydrate 55%-65%

Warm Tips: If you want to improve your health, it is recommended to keep carbohydrate intake at a lower level and protein and Fat intake at a higher level. This approach tends to produce better results.

Major Energy Sources

Image source: Wikipedia

Best Bulking Foods Recommendation

So, which foods can help you reach your nutrition and training goals? Consider building your meals around these protein-rich and nutrient-dense options.

  1. Bananas:These high-calorie, quick carbohydrates are excellent for supplying energy to muscles and developing prospective strength. They are also a great source of potassium, which is a necessary electrolyte for healthy muscles.
  2. Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate that gives your muscles sustained energy. They help maintain a strong immune system since they are high in beta-carotene and vitamin C.
  3. RED Meat : Packed with protein, red meat delivers iron for oxygen transport, vitamin B12 for energy generation, and helps with muscle rehabilitation.
  4. Greek yogurt: Packed with protein, this yogurt helps rebuild muscles and fortifies bones thanks to its calcium content. Probiotics are also included for gut health. When growing muscle, choose full-fat yogurt to meet your caloric demands.
  5. Chicken: Chicken breast is a popular choice for muscle growth due to its high protein and low fat content.
  6. Quinoa: Despite being classified as a seed, quinoa is regarded as a whole grain and offers a healthy mix of carbohydrates and plant protein.
  7. Nuts and nut butters: high in protein and high in energy, these foods are excellent for helping muscles recover. Additionally, they have antioxidants, which assist lower oxidative stress and keep you in peak condition.
  8. Eggs: Easy to incorporate into a range of dishes, eggs are high in protein and promote the best possible muscle repair. They also include choline, which supports healthy nerve and muscle function.

Some foods high in calories that are beneficial for growing muscle are:

  • Olive oil: a high-calorie cooking oil that facilitates the absorption of nutrients and the creation of hormones.
  • Fatty fish: such as salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
  • Avocados: a great source of healthy fats, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
  • Whole grains: such as barley, cracked wheat, millet, quinoa and black rice, provide slow-release energy.
  • Legumes: high in fiber, protein, and carbs, such as chickpeas, black beans, and green beans.
  • Milk: During the bulking phase, milk is a convenient and easy way to replenish calories, as it is rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
  • White Cottage Cheese: a slow-digesting protein source that provides sustained release of amino acids and is also rich in essential nutrients and probiotics.

These foods not only provide essential calories, but also contain nutrients that are beneficial for muscle growth and recovery. During the muscle building phase, ensure a balanced diet and combine it with a proper workout regimen for optimal muscle building results.


A 54-year-old male office worker, 175 cm tall, 72 kg in weight, drives to get off work every day and does not do any additional physical activity.

What is his daily energy requirement?

How should he take his three major nutrients?

Step 1: Determine his ideal weight

Ideal weight (kg) = height (cm) - 105.

For this gentleman, the ideal weight is 175-105=70 kg.

Step 2: Calculate his daily energy requirements

As a light manual laborer who is neither overweight nor thin, the energy required for each kilogram of body weight is 30 kcal.

The total daily energy requirement for this gentleman is 70*30=2100 kcal.

Step 3: Calculate the proportion of the three major nutrients

  • Carbohydrates account for 55% of the total energy: 2100 kcal*55%=1155 kcal.

Note: Each gram of carbohydrates provides 4 kcal of energy, so the daily intake of carbohydrates should be 1155/4=288.75 grams.

Tips: It is recommended to divide carbohydrates into half coarse grains and half refined grains. For those with weak digestive ability, increase the proportion of refined grains; for those who are obese or have very little exercise, increase the proportion of coarse grains to enhance satiety and prevent excessive carbohydrate intake.

  • Proteinaccounts for 15% of total energy: 2100*15%=315 kcal.

Note: Each gram of protein provides 4 kcal of energy, and 315/4=78.75 grams of protein is required.

Tips: Half of the protein should come from plants and half from animals, that is, about 39.375 grams per person.

  • A medium-sized egg contains about 6 grams of protein.
  • 200 ml of milk contains about 6 grams of protein.
  • Lean meat (from quadrupeds or bipeds) and fish usually contain 17%-20% protein, that is, 100 grams of meat contains 17-20 grams of protein.

It is recommended that he consumes one egg, 300 ml of milk, and 150 grams of meat or fish daily.

  • Fat accounts for 30% of total energy: 2100*30%=630 kcal.
  • Each gram of fat provides 9 kcal of energy, and 630/9=70 grams of fat are needed.
  • Half of it should come from vegetable oil, that is, 35 grams per day.
  • Animal fat can be obtained from eggs, meat, and milk.

- Note: If you are a vegetarian, there are fewer sources of animal fat, and the intake of vegetable oil should be appropriately increased.

- Pay attention to the proportion of fat intake, and the intake of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids should be higher. Eat more fish, shrimp, seaweed, etc.

Now, calculate your daily energy intake!

Start changing the diet structure and types according to the ideal weight standard, and combine it with regular fitness exercises, and you can achieve the effect of reducing fat and increasing muscle in a short time.

For fitness enthusiasts who want to lose body fat, here are some strategies:

For fitness enthusiasts who want to lose fat and gain muscle, calculating calorie intake is slightly different. Here are some basic guidelines and steps:

  1. Determine Your Target Weight:First, determine your fat loss target weight. This is usually determined based on your height to set your healthy target weight.
  1. Calculate Total Energy Expenditure (TEE): Total energy expenditure is the total energy you burn in a day, including your basal metabolic rate and daily activities.
  1. Create a Caloric Deficit:To lose weight, you need to create a caloric deficit, which means you burn more calories than you take in. Studies show that burning 7,700 calories can help you lose 1 kg of weight.

How To Calculate Calories Burned?

The simplest method for calculating calorie expenditure includes utilizing data from wearable activity trackers or gym equipment.

We recommend the Speediance brand of fitness equipment, with GYM Monster being a highly popular home fitness apparatus on the market. What's really cool is that Speediance offers these free online tutorials that are super professional and tailored to your needs. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, there's something for everyone. You can follow along from the comfort of your own home, and it's like having your own personal trainer.

And the best part? Their equipment is designed to give you accurate feedback on your workouts. It tracks the calories you burn, so you can see your progress and make sure you're on the right track with your fitness goals.

gym monster
  1. Adjust the three major energy sources: During fat loss, it is generally recommended to increase protein intake to help maintain muscle mass, while reducing carbohydrate and fat intake.Learn more about your body's needs, and customize your own recipes according to your own situation.

Please note that you must consume an appropriate amount of carbohydrates during fitness. Adequate carbohydrate intake can prevent muscle breakdown from glycogen depletion by freeing protein to do its main job: repair and rebuild muscle tissue. If we limit carbs, protein will be used for energy rather than building lean muscle.

  1. Monitor progress and adjust:Monitor weight and body fat changes regularly, and adjust diet and exercise plans based on the results.
  1. Maintain water and electrolyte balance: During fat loss, due to water loss, you need to ensure adequate water and electrolyte intake.
  1. Pay attention to nutritional integrity: Even during fat loss, make sure to consume enough vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy.

Keep in mind that everyone's body is unique, so it may take some time to find the calorie intake and nutrient ratio that best suits an individual. If you don't understand your body, it is recommended to follow a fat loss plan under the guidance of a professional nutritionist or fitness trainer.

The Balance of 7 Essential Nutrients: The Secret to Human Health

According to the nutritional classification of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government,There are more than 40 different kinds of nutrients in food and they can generally be classified into the following 7 major groups:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Dietary fibre
  • Water

Balance Nutrients: Gaining and losing weight the healthy way

Each of the 7 major groups of nutrients performs different and unique functions in our body, which are all essential in a balanced diet because they work together and contribute to our good health. The main functions of these nutrients can be summarized below:

  • Carbohydrates: Our body's primary energy source, carbohydrates make up 55% to 65% of our total energy intake. They are predominantly found in grains like rice and noodles, as well as fruits, root vegetables, legumes, and dairy products.
  • Proteins: Comprising 10% to 15% of our energy intake, proteins are integral to our body's structure, accounting for 20% of our body weight. They are categorized into animal and plant proteins, with sources including meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, and beans.

Note: When carbohydrate reserves are depleted, our body turns to fats and proteins for energy.*

  • Fats: Fats, constituting 25% to 30% of our energy intake, are crucial for energy storage, insulation, and protection of vital organs. They also aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and are found in meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, and oils.
  • Vitamins: Vital for various metabolic processes, vitamins are categorized as water-soluble and fat-soluble. They support skin and hair health, bone development, and energy metabolism.
  • Minerals: Essential for regulating body functions such as fluid balance, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse transmission, minerals like calcium are structural components of our body.
  • Dietary Fiber: The indigestible part of plant-based foods, dietary fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, promotes gastrointestinal health, and prevents constipation. It is divided into soluble and insoluble fiber.
  • Water: Making up 60% of our body weight, water is crucial for regulating body temperature, producing body fluids, transporting nutrients, and eliminating waste.
  • Dehydration Alert:Losing 2% of body weight in water causes thirst, while a 10% loss leads to irritability, fatigue, fever, and low blood pressure. A 20% loss is life-threatening. Stay hydrated, especially during exercise.

Each nutrient plays a unique role in our body, and together, they contribute to our overall health when we maintain a balanced diet. By understanding their importance, we can make informed dietary choices to support our well-being.

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