Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to Measure Body Fat


There are four major methods of measuring body fat. They include Navy Method, Home Body Fat Scales, Skinfold Calipers, and Hydrostatic Weighing. But we will look into three that are more commonly used.

Home Body Fat Scales-This device measures body fat by the use of Biometrical Impedance method. A very small electrical current, that is not enough to harm the body is passed through your body and the opposing current or is measured. When this result is compared to the weight, the percentage of body fat can then be determined.

This test has a margin of error, because the impedance in the body is altered by other factors that also generate some currents apart from body fat. Example is the electrical waves in the heart, the skeletal muscles etc, and water in your body, your skin temperature and physical exercise. In order to eliminate this interference; starve for 3-4 hours before test and also avoid any form of physical at least 12 hours before the test.

Skinfold Caliper – Another effective method is the use of calipers. This is the most cost preferred method of measuring body fats. However, you need to learn to use them correctly for this purpose. It should be done by a professional if you can help, but if not then acquire a set of Accumeasure calipers and the measuring instructions as stated.

Hydrostatic Weighing- Hydrostatic weighing also known as under water weighing is the most accurate way to calculate body fat – that is, if you can find a hydrostatic weighing tank.

How is it used? You need to understand Archimedes Principle. If you did physics in school, you will understand this better. But if you did not, I will explain for the avoidance of doubt. Whether you or the examiner, calculates your body density by measuring the amount of water you displace when you immerse yourself in water. Archimedes principle reasons that the amount of water displaced when an object in partially or totally immersed in water is proportional to the weight of that object. In this case you are the object. Then a formula is used to calculate body fat based on your body density. The problem is finding hydrostatic weighing tank! I guess this is too sophisticated for most people. But it remains the most accurate.

Why bother measuring your fat?

Knowledge of the exact amount of fat in your body can help you set realistic goals for your weight loss plans. Body fat is an important element in successful weight control. You will be objective and scientific with the program which is the best way to loss weight. It is likened to taking inventory of the amount of fat in your body, and the time it will take you to loss a certain fraction as well as how much calories should be dropped from your meals daily to achieve it.

Fat measurement is the only way you can objectively track the success or otherwise of your weight loss program.

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