How to Measure Body Fat Accurately for Correct Results?
Body fat is a bad couple of words to some people. Appearance is what everyone worries about, and body fat has an important part in that. The one thing you hear about in the news is obesity and how America has grown lax in its consumption of foods and that more people are letting themselves go. In this blog, we will give you ways to measure your own body fat and see if there are some concerns you should worry about.
Body Fat Defined
Your body will store fat from the foods you consume daily. We use these deposits of fat for energy, insulation, and protection. When too much body fat accumulates, it can lead to obesity and other diseases. Men and women carry the amount of body fat percentages differently. There is an acceptable amount of this body fat that is essential to survive. This is the amount that will protect your internal organs, anything less than the recommended body fat could risk damage to them.
How to Measure Body Fat
There are several ways that you can measure your body fat. There are advantages and disadvantages to each process, so make sure you use the one that is right for you or that you feel comfortable with.
Anthropometric (using a tape measure)
Your body shape is unique, and the shape of your body will provide you the best information on your body fat. Measuring the circumference of different areas of the body is a simple method of finding out your body fat. The military uses this technique by using age, height, and a few measurements. They have a calculator on the web that you can look up to input your numbers. Make sure you use the widest areas and also measure twice to take the average, plus record to the nearest half-inch. They measure women around the neck, waist, and hips. Men are just the neck and waist.
Advantages – Easy and affordable, just a flexible measure tape and calculator.
Disadvantages – Equations for body circumference may not be as accurate for all people because of differences in body shape and fat distribution.
Accuracy – The error in this process can be between 2.5-4.5% body fat. Since the process itself can have some inconsistencies, such as how tight you pull the tape measure, what you recently ate and the clothing you are wearing, you need to be careful of the accuracy.
Bioelectric Impedance Analysis
BIA scales will weight fat-free body mass and body fat percentage. Your muscles will have a content of high water within them, and this is conductive. Fat will have a lower water content in it, so when the scale sends the electrical current through your body to measure the fat, it will read it more accurately. Combining your weight, height, age, and gender inputted into the scale will provide your body fat percentage.
Advantages – This is a quick and easy process, and there are many scales available for different prices that can be affordable.
Disadvantages – The accuracy of the test can vary depending on what you have eaten or drank that day. If your fluid intake is higher than normal, it can give a varied result.
Accuracy – The accuracy is varied and will range between a 3.8-5% difference.
This process is most likely the easiest process that you can do at home. This process measures the thickness of your fat under the skin at different parts of your body.
Women should take their measurements in 3-7 different places on their bodies. Measuring your triceps, above the hip bone, your thigh, abdomen or chest, that nice flubber by your armpit and an area beneath the shoulder blade will be the best. Measuring in these areas will give you an average of what the body fat is on your body.
Men can do the same thing, only measuring their abdomen, thigh, chest, triceps and the areas beneath the shoulder blade, scapula, and armpit.
Advantages – Calipers are affordable and they can quickly take the measurement, is portable and can be done at home.
Disadvantages – You will need to know some anatomy and you will need to practice getting it right. Pinching your own body fat is not fun and letting someone else help you read it can be awkward.
Accuracy – The error that happens with this process can range from 3.5-5% body fat.
A particular method considered the best way to get your body fat measurement is known as Hydrostatic Weighing. Since muscle and bone happen to be denser than water, someone who has a smaller percentage of body fat will actually weigh more when they are in the water. The same thing applies to those who have more body fat, they will weigh less in the water. They can do this test in a research lab, hospital or even some universities. It will take about 30 minutes to complete and will cost some money depending on where you go.
Advantages – It is a quick process.
Disadvantages – Some people don’t enjoy being in the water, let alone underwater. You need to blow out as much air as possible and then hold your breath. This is also something that you can’t repeat easily since you would have to pay for it each time, not all insurances will cover this test.
Accuracy – This test is as accurate as you can get, with less than 1% error in body fat.
Air Displacement Plethysmography
This process is like the hydrostatic weighing; However, it will use air displacement instead of water. This means you will sit inside of a chamber while it alters the pressure of the air inside the chamber.
There are more tests that are available, most of them doing with electricity or other forms of calculations, however, the ones above are by far the most popular ways of measuring body fat.
What Will Work for You
Deciding what is best for you won’t be easy, but you need to ask yourself some questions; Why are you doing this, how accurate do you want it to be, how often do you want to track it, and what will it cost? Once you have answered these questions and read all the information on the types of tests out there, you will give yourself an informed answer.