The Best Ways to Properly Measure Body Fat Percentage

There is no point in arguing that, getting on a scaling machine and seeing no change can get frustrating at times. Loosely, one would understand that trimming your body fat means bringing down your body weight. But, that is certainly not the case. You would be surprised to know how the weight of your body doesn’t justify whether you are healthy or not.

body fat percentage

There are several circumstances where even overweight people tend to be healthy, whereas people within the normal weight are actually unhealthy. The root of living a healthy life is actually to keep your body fat percentage in check. In this article, you will find the different ways in which you can properly measure your body fat percentage.

What Exactly is Body Fat? 

Whenever we hear the term body fat, we often associate it with unhealthy life. On the contrary, it plays an essential role in our body. The fat within the body is stored from the foods consumed so that later on, it can be used to generate energy and provide protection. While a certain amount of body fat is crucial, too much of everything leads to further complications. It can cause obesity and other diseases such as type 2 diabetes and even heart complications.

Determining the body fat percentage is very crucial to understand the proper functioning of the body. For instance, two people with the same body weight can have varying body fat percentage. Down below is a list of the six different ways in which you can properly measure body fat percentage:

1) Tape Measure

Just by using soft tape, you can actually measure the body fat percentage. It is as easier as it can ever get. Neither less to say, you can actually find a ton of body tapes that specifically marked for body fat from online marketplaces like Amazon. The only catch is that you need to know your height in inches.

For Men

We have classified the sections based on sex. If you are a man, make sure to take the measurement for the circumference of the neck and abdomen. Bear in mind, to take into consideration the largest portion of those areas. As far as the calculation is concerned, you can determine the circumference value by subtracting the neck value from that of the abdominal one.

For Women

Being a woman, your record should consist of taking a measurement of the neck along with the circumference of your natural waist and hips. The measurement remains the same considering only the widest portions. It is always advised to seek help from that of a family member or friend.

In order to calculate your circumference value, all you need to do is add the measurement from the waist and hip region and subtract the same with the neck. For instance, if your waist is 32, and hips being 38, while your neck measures only 13, then your circumference value is 57.

Useful Tips

  • While measuring, make sure that the tape lightly touches your skin. There is no need to compress it, as it might jeopardize the overall result.
  • Make sure to take all the measurements twice, and take an average value from them.
  • You can use any online calculator in case you are having a hard time finding corresponding value for the chart.
  • Bear mind that, since it is completely analogue, there is always a room for errors.

2) Callipers

The next one in our list is to evaluate body fat index is with the help of callipers. These are noting but skin-fold testing tools which are used by pinching different parts of the body. This, in turn, helps to determine the body fat percentage. Using this method generally takes the least amount of time as compared to others. Further including, it is cost-effective as well as you can actually find callipers in varieties of online store.

In order to properly use callipers, make sure to go through the steps carefully:

  • For men, make sure to measure the fat around the chest, abdominal regions as well as in the thighs.
  • For women, the measurement should be taken from the triceps, suprailiac regions along with the thighs.
  • The majority of the callipers actually comes with instructions for better understanding of how to convert the readings to body fat percentage.
  • To get a more accurate result, make sure to take measurement twice of the same region and average them later.
  • Using calipers ensures that you have at least 3% of error, generally considered as a human error.

3) Body Fat Scale

Another great way to estimate your body fat percentage is with the use of body fat scales. There is a technology known as bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) which is used within the body fat scale. Using the scale is as simple as it can ever get. All you need to do is step on the scale, and an electrical impulse actually passes through the leg, then goes through the pelvis and back to the other leg.

Later on, the scale actually uses some complex algorithm to make sure that the height, age, weight and even gender are taken into consideration while evaluating the body fat percentage. One can easily find some of the bestselling body fat scales over the internet. Although, here is a list of some of the variables that the scale doesn’t take into account, resulting in errors:

  • The hydration level of the body
  • The last time food was consumed
  • The last time, a person exercised

4) Hydrostatic Weight

Hydrostatic weight, as the name suggests is a weighing method which uses hydrodensitometry. Under the weighing regiment, the person needs to sit undressed on a chair which remains submerged on the water. Using this method, the overall body density is recorded, as the body poses a buoyant force, displacing the water. Later on, this weight recorded can be used to calculate the body fat percentage.

Bear in mind that, hydrostatic weight is considered as one of the standards for getting accurate body weight percentages. There is hardly any chance of 1% error for both children and adults. These kinds of tests require higher precision along with which comes a higher price tag. So, in order to get proper results, you actually need to go through special facilities.

5) Air Displacement Plethysmography

Another yet commonly used method to check body fat percentage with higher precision is through the air displacement plethysmography. During the test, one needs to go through an egg-shaped chamber which completely encloses the body. The chamber is often known as a BOD POD. Using complex computer algorithms, the overall body density is calculated using the volume and weight of the body. It is then converted to body fat percentage.

According to the majority of the researchers, BOD POD is considered to be the most accurate within the lot. It has almost the same precision, as that of hydrostatic weight with just 1% scope of error.

6) MRI and CT Scan

Lastly, another high precision way to measure body fat percentage comes from computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. One of the major reasons due to which these scans are so accurate is due to their ability to take cross-sectional images. In fact, MRI and CT scan also have the capability to actually measure intra-abdominal fats.

With the use of high precision equipment like these, MRIs are often considered as the costliest alternative. Neither less to say, with their great versatility, they are often used for other purposes apart from just measuring body fat percentage.

Key Difference Between Body Fat Percentage and BMI

Body Mass Index also commonly known as BMI, is one of the evaluating factors to consider whether someone is healthy or not. But it runs on an entirely different concept that of body fat percentage. For instance, based on your height and age, BMI can only predict whether you are overweight, obese, underweight or retaining a normal weight.

As much easy it might be, BMI can never accurately predict whether you are completely healthy or not. On the contrary, with certainly one can say that the lower is your body fat percentage, the healthier you are.

Concluding Words

It is imperative to understand that one can actually find varieties of ways in which you can properly find the body fat percentage. All the different ways we have mentioned-above ranges from the most simplistic approach to taking expensive tests. In fact, with all the different methods, you can actually find varying results. That being said, BOD POD, which are underwater weighing tools, are the most effective and find the percentage with much higher accuracy.

As far as your body weight percentage is concerned, getting 150 minutes of exercise throughout the day can help you to keep the same in check. Further including, try to incorporate strength training at least two days within a week. This will help you to burn out excess fat within your body. But, in order to maintain the same position, make sure to incorporate a healthy diet with your day to day meal. Keeping some of the key aspects in check will surely help you to retain the perfect body fat percentage you have always wanted.

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