Ideal Body Fat Percentage for Men over 50

There is a considerable amount of information online these days concerning what constitutes a healthy body fat percentage. Much of it seems to be geared for people under 40 (the magic age). I realise there is a bit of variation due to sex, age and body type (mesomorph, ectomorph, endomorph), but I don’t often see all three of these variables taken into account in the various tables available online.

Most fitness trainers I speak to rate 8-10% body fat the ideal for men, but a highly unrealistic goal for most men - or at least for them to sustain. They say 12% is far more realistic. However, older men over 40 will find 12% nearly possible to sustain over any length of time. I’ve read that men over 40 should shoot more for 14% as their ideal, but they should keep in mind that only 1 in 10 men can maintain that figure for an extended period. Most men over 40, I’m told should be happy with anywhere from 15-19% body fat.

As the ol’ story goes, anybody with a little bit of discipline and determination can cut down to a single digit body fat percentage. However, sustaining that low level for any period of time is virtually impossible for many men, especially if they’re over 40.

Do these figures sound right to you guys? Thanks!


The NHS suggests sub 20 as healthy. I think that’s sustainable through diet alone which long term is more realistic. But as many say it’s down to what you think is achievable and that could be more or less than that figure.

I’m 34 and aiming for 15, but as I was at 32% at Christmas that seems pretty good to me!

I had posted this chart in other threads. Here you go.Needed fat percentage goes up as one gets older. It is very achievable, I am at 16.5% now, at age 59.

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I am 56 with a 13% body fat. It is all about diet. I also workout 7 days a week

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Hi guys. I am 47. Since 4 years ago I was on 220 lbs, they were hard years, I stumbled just by remembering it XD. But through years I realized that everything and each effort begins at the very first time in our minds.
So don’t be afraid to start to do what you have to do!!!

Great work, thanks for sharing the chart.

I do love the chart. 55 y.o. 5’10, 154 lbs, 12% body fat this morning on my scale, exercise 7 days a week and low carb.

A week ago I cut out a couple of hundred calories, added protein to be near 1.2 of body weight, increased my fitness. Since this, I lost 4 pounds on the scale, and gained a pound of muscle.

I still have body fat to burn My question is are there benefits/reasons to have some additional body fat as one ages? I’m pretty ketogenic, so see myself continuing to slowly reduce this fat…


Having body fat below 18% for men your ages increases morbidity. It may seem counterintuitive that having a super lean body (i.e. 12% etc.) will actually decrease lifespan for the average man, but research supports this conclusion. Moral of the story, don’t get hung up on low body fat just to have bragging rights. Be healthy and stay in the normal zone as you age.

What research? Can you share links please mate.

Also what’s the ‘mechanism’ that leads to a higher rate of mortality in leaner men?

I agree with this ^

thanks Great work, sharing the beautiful chart.

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In general, for adults over 50, a target healthy range of body fat is 20 to 25 percent for women and 10 to 15 percent for men. Generally, women with more than 32 percent body fat and males with more than 25 percent are considered to be at higher risk for heart disease and other conditions.

It is necessary fat that maintains life and reproductive functions. The amount of essential fat differs between men and women, and is typically around 2-5% in men, and 10-13% in women. The healthy range of body fat for men is typically defined as 8-19%, while the healthy range for women is 21-33%.

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