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How To Measure Body Fat Percentage: 10 Best Ways

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9 Min Read

Many dread the weight scale and think of weight as a determinant of the health of an individual. Nevertheless, a number can never be a defining factor of your overall well-being.

The health of your body is dependent on your physical activity, metabolism, and of course healthy food habits. After many years of research, there are some measurements that can determine various factors that affect health in multiple ways, one of those is Body Fat measurement. A common challenge is how to measure body fat under varying conditions.

Body fat percentage Vs Body mass index:

These two are often confused, and even interchangeably used. In layman terms, we can say, Body mass index is a ratio data type, that evaluates your body weight against your height. It does not determine whether your body weight is coming from the muscle mass or the fat. 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal body mass.

Your Body fat percentage is the determinant of the percentage of your body that contains fat in regards to the body mass.

Let’s See How To Measure Body Fat Percentage

1. Skinfold Callipers test:

One of the most cost-effective ways, this test is based on the logic that subcutaneous fat is distributed over the body, and therefore the skinfold is the measure of the same.

Use:

To access the skinfold thickness and determine body fat.

Method:

To get a precise number, we measure thrice and then average the data obtained. Skinfold calipers pinch the skin and pull it out from the muscles, the skin held in the calipers is the fat tissue. Now, take the skinfold measurement after three two four seconds when calipers are released.
The jaws or grasp of the calipers must be one fourth from the fingers of your hand that holds the skinfold.

Pros:

This method is easy, pocket-friendly, portable, and extremely reliable especially when they determine the skinfold sites accurately. It is recommended that a professional perform the test to analyze better.

Cons:

Skinfold caliper test makes an assumption about the distribution of body fat and accounts for empirical estimations as well (for instance, age).

2. Make your own comparison:

It’s the quickest answer to how to measure body fat, allowing you to take your own measurement without any special types of equipment or scale. It is dependent on the physical attributes that change when you begin to reduce/gain body fat.

Use:

Helps determine the progression of your physique

Method:

You can easily compare your body shape with that of your goal, the person should be of similar body type and height. This calls for a professional eye but is quite efficient in determining the transformation of your physical attributes. This particular method will require you to keep track of your fitness using accurate pictures from regular time intervals, it can be a daily or weekly basis.

Pros:

As mentioned earlier, it is the easiest way to keep track of your body fat and monitor the progress at well. You can establish a goal for your body and compare your own progression with older pictures. It is best if your employe a professional for this analysis.

Cons:

Taking into consideration only a few points of the data, this method is not accurate when it comes to determining body fat percentage. It can also overestimate body fat.

3. Take measurements of your circumference:

This method requires an inch tape and is developed by the U.S. Navy to keep track of the number of essential fats in the body.

Use:

Easily calculate the Body Fat using an inch tape.

Method:

Relax your shoulders and body when you do this, take an inch tape flat against your skin.
First, measure the circumference of your neck. Don’t forget to maintain the level of the tape, round off this measurement to the closest half of the point. Similarly, measure the size of your waist. As you breathe out, measure the abdomen. Now, measure your hip size. You can stand in front of the mirror to record the measurement of the buttocks from the widest part. Finally, measure your height. Don’t forget to record it on the same scale as the others and stand straight against the wall.
Shoulders back, legs stick to the wall, and head looking straight. Mark the wall, and measure it from the floor.

How to measure body fat using this method? Simply click on the link and you can easily submit the data to get the number.

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Pros:

An easy and affordable method that can be calculated at home.

Cons:

The accuracy widely differs, since this method doesn’t determine muscle and body weight.

4. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis:

Using electrodes a weak electrical current is passed through the body to determine the BIA. This method functions on the mechanism that the muscles contain more water than fat in the body, this creates a difference between the resistance caused as the voltage passed through the body. Therefore the lesser the resistance, the more the muscle mass.

Use:

To determine body composition, in regards to body fat and muscle mass.

Method:

These non-invasive tests involve the use of two electrodes, one placed on the forehead, the other one on the feet. Now a light current is passed through the body and impedance is analyzed.

Pros:

An easy method, and provides rapid data in regards to muscle mass and body fat.

Cons:

The hydration levels of the body can vary during the day, this will cause variation in the data acquired in the analysis. Even recent exercise can affect accuracy.

5. Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry:

Also known as Bone Mineral Density and DXA (earlier DEXA), this method is FDA approved. It analyzes the muscle mass, tissue fat and bone mass using extremely weak X-ray radiations.

Use:

To pinpoint the exact impact of your diet/exercise regime helps monitor bone health too.

Method:

Using a DXA machine, it is a matter of 10 minutes for you to get your body fat percentage with Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry while you lie on your back. This analysis also helps in identifying long term health risks of the body.
You can wear your clothes minus anything made of metal close to the body, and you are good to go.

Pros:

The quick method and is considered the most precise one to determine body fat percentage. It also provides a detailed assessment of the body.

Cons:

An expensive method that is uncommon in most of the cities.

6. The Bod Pod Method

The Bod Pod Method uses a technique called Air Displacement Plethysmography to determine the ratio of lean mass to fatty mass. The method categorizes the body mass percentage into the only fat which is the adipose tissue, and the leftover lean mass, which consists of skeletal muscle, blood, etc.

Use:

The Bod Pod test is primarily used for the elderly, physically challenged, children etc who need accurate body testing. The method is repeatable and provides a much more detailed result than a generic lab test.

Method:

How to measure body fat using the Bod Pod test? In this test, the person is made to sit inside a Pod chamber wherein their body mass testing is done. This chamber consists of a very sensitive electronic as well as Air Displacement Plethysmograph. The person wears special clothing for the test to be done.

Pros:

The test is highly accurate and provides a detailed composition of body mass with a clear distinction of lean and fatty mass. It’s a relatively faster test which may take only 10 minutes to complete, with minimal effort.

Cons:

There are certain pre-test conditions that must be met. The person shouldn’t eat anything 4-5 hours before the test and there is special clothing required to conduct the test. These conditions make it a little cumbersome to prepare for the test.

7. Three Dimensional Body Scanners

The Three Dimensional Body Scanner test uses a 3D camera scanner which creates a virtual 3D image of the body. It’s a cutting-edge technique that accurately determines body fat percentage while also offering a lot of analytics for medical professionals. The test is widely used in the fitness industry.

Use:

The test is used in the Aesthetics, Fitness, Healthcare, and Weight Loss tracking domains. It offers deep insights into body shape and variation over time, helping create personalized fitness routines. Doctors, Athletes, and healthcare professionals, all use this method for immaculate results.

Method:

The test requires an individual to stand in front of a 3D scanner which creates a 3D graph of the body. The test is quick and easy. The person rotates their body in front of the scanner cameras, and the whole process is done in no time.

Pros:

The test is 76% more accurate than the best tailor measurement equipment. It not only provides body fat percentage but also offers several key statistics about body shape, size of various organs, and progress over time.

Cons:

The test requires advanced 3D scanners for the test to be successful. These scanners may not be easily available in a general healthcare facility, which makes the test costly to perform.

8. Multi-Compartment Model

The Multi-Compartment model is basically a combination of multiple body fat percentage calculation tests done together. It uses various methods such as the 180 labeled water dilution to calculate Total Body Water, the Bod Pod test, the Under Water Weighing test, and the DXA.

Use:

The MCM is used in places where the researchers have to obtain extremely accurate results. The MCM is often regarded as the “best reference technique” as it is closest to the direct determination of the body fat and mass percentage.

Method:

How to measure body fat using MCM? The method employs different tests in unison to calculate results based on several findings rather than just one test. It’s a model dedicated to reducing inaccuracies and taking the calculation to the next pinnacle of precision.

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Pros:

The test offers several advantages but the key factors for its usage are accuracy. In scientific applications where the mass percentage is to be calculated to the last decimal, the test shines bright.

Cons:

Due to the highly complex nature of the test, it’s inadvisable for general body fat testing. It needs a scientific setup and a lot of number-crunching to compare results. Therefore, it’s best suited to high-profile labs.

9. Ultrasound, CT Scan or MRI

Ultrasound is a widely common technique to determine body fat percentage using Computed Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). These tests use advanced imaging methods to calculate the fat percentage.

Use:

Ultrasound, CT Scan, and MRI, are employed for patients that are morbidly obese as it doesn’t require the patient to be put on a physical scale. It’s also used to determine the fat composition of the fetus and pregnant women.

Method:

The method employs the use of Ultrasound equipment which takes the images of the body, to estimate body fat percentages. The test uses various sonic and magnetic technologies for body mass calculation.

Pros:

The test has proven to be useful in cases where the individuals can’t be transported for a physical test. It can be easily conducted with a patient lying on the bed, with minimum friction. It’s a preferred method for bariatric surgeries.

Cons:

The test is expensive compared to other simpler testing methods. It’s only conducted when warranted by the doctor, and when there is no alternative to the same.

10. Body Fat Scale

Body Fat Scales are electronic devices that calculate body fat just like a regular weight scale would do. You just need to step on it and it’ll provide you with the body fat percentage automatically. It’s one of the widely used methods in clinics and gymnasiums.

Use:

Body Fat scales are used everywhere from home-based testing to clinical testing. It only requires a Body Fat Scale equipment which comes with sensors to determine the body fat percentage.

Method:

How to measure body fat using the Body Fat Scale? The device senses the bioelectric impedance of the body, to calculate the body fat. It uses in-built algorithms to ratify the results and provides information using a digital clock or a smartphone connection.

Pros:

The test is very easy to conduct. Many gymnasiums use the Body Fat Scale to quickly check the progress of their clients. Obese patients also use it at their homes to check their treatment success rates and for a general health survey.

Cons:

The test results aren’t extremely precise and depend upon a lot of factors. Many a time, the gender, age, and height, etc, can alter the results of the Body Fat Scale.

Conclusion

The article enumerates various methods to determine body fat and mass percentage. Most of the methods are scientific in nature, and might only be employed under special circumstances. But with good overall knowledge, you’d be able to understand which method does what. This will help you proceed on the journey to better health with precision.

How Much Body Fat Percentage Is Good?

The ideal body fat percentage varies between men and women, plus there are a couple of other factors like age. For women, the ideal and acceptable body fat percentage ranges between 25 to 31%. The same for men range from 18 to 24%. Further, as the age progresses, the body fat percentage of both men and women is also supposed to increase.

Where Can I Find Out My Body Fat Percentage?

There are several ways to find out the body fat percentage. Professionals use four different methods, including; dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, hydrostatic weighing, and 3-D body scanner. Other than this, several online body fat calculators will deduce the fat percentage with the help of measurements, including age, weight, height, neck, waist, and hip.

What Is The Minimum Body Fat Percentage?

Body fat is an indicator of the amount of fat present in your body. Contrary to popular belief having zero body fat is a fad and not conducive to a better health regimen. Thus, it is essential to sustain your body fat percentage to a minimum of 10 to 22% for men and 20 to 32% for women. Below this, the physicians remark the individual as underweight and suffering from stunted growth.

Which Is The Most Accurate Test To Measure Body Fat?

The most accurate method to calculate body fat percentage is using a DEXA scan or DXA scan in a physician’s center or a hospital. A DEXA uses the dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry to scan the body and give accurate results. To find out the body fat at home, you can use skinfold calipers and body circumference measurements to deduce the exact fats’ percentage.

Does Height Affect Body Fat Percentage?

Body fat is not only influenced by body weight. Other body measurements like height, stature, and physical activity may also play a role in its identification. Here too, men and women respond differently to height. Taller individuals have a higher body fat percentage. Still, as a person grows older, the causative factorisation of the fat percentage reverses, meaning more senior people with more height will have less body fat.

1 Comment

  1. Damian Malan September 27, 2020

    world is changing

    Reply

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