Have you ever heard of fat mass index (FMI)?  Probably not, but you should be aware of it because it can give you a more reliable indicator of your relative fat content. Find our more reading this new article!

Fat in the human body

The fat mass represents the totality of the lipids present in the human body. Usually expressed as a percentage of the total body mass, it consists of two components: the primary fat and the storage fat.

Essential fat, or primary fat, means the proportion of fat contained in the central nervous system, bone marrow, mammary glands, kidneys, spleen, and other tissues. Given this particular anatomical location, essential fat has a physiological role of primary importance, to the point of being considered: the minimum fat content compatible with good health.

For males, this value should not fall below 3-5% (already at these levels there is greater susceptibility to infections), while in females the primary fat should be above 12% (already at levels below 16 percentage points some athletes become amenorrhoeic, with significant loss of bone minerals).

The deposit fat, accumulated in the adipose tissue, is the main energy reserve of the organism; it is found mainly at the subcutaneous level, but also in the visceral one (the proportion between the two varies depending on age, sex, ethnicity and state of physical fitness). Normal values are around 12%.

What is the fat mass index?

Fat mass index is a simple indicator of how much fat weight you have relative to your own height.

The good thing about fat mass index is that it doesn’t penalise you for having lots of muscle (good news for well-muscled fit people!). In fact body mass index considers your total weight on the meat scale relative to height. FMI, on the other hand, looks at just the fat portion of that total body weight.

If used in conjunction with other clinical biomarkers (like blood pressure, blood sugar, lipids, waist circumference, etc), FMI can also help identify health risks for developing diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Fat mass index is slowly gaining momentum in the health field as a valuable biomarker. when used in conjunction with other health indicators, can provide a greater understanding of your individual level of health and fitness.

In men and women, the fat mass index represents, respectively, 15 and 24% of the total body mass. These values are much lower in athletes, where they reach levels close to the percentage of primary fat, and much higher in obese people.

Fat mass index calculator

The determination of the fat mass index can take place according to different methods, which differ in practicality, accuracy and cost, such as plicometry, bioimpedance, body circumference, Dexa, creatinine, magnetic resonance, CT, K40 and ultrasound). The following may be considered a relative fat mass index calculator, even simpler and more immediate method, and it consists in calculating by dividing your fat weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.

The normative tables for fat mass index also take into consideration age and gender irrespective of lean mass, in fact it is important not to judge progress based solely on body fat percentage.

Comparing the result obtained, you can get an idea of your physical fitness level with the values of the fat mass index in the table below:

Sever fat deficit: Male <2; Female <3,5

Moderate fat deficit: Male 2 to <2.3; Female 3.5 to <4

Mild fat deficit: Male 2.3 to <3; Female 4 to <5

Normal: Male 3-6; Female 5-9

Excess fat: Male >6 to 9; Female >9 to 13

Obese class I: Male >9 to 12; Female >13 to17

Obese class II: Male >12 to 15; Female >17 to 21

Obese class III: Male >15; Female >21

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