Methods of Measuring Body Fat Percentage

Methods of Measuring Body Fat Percentage

Measuring your body fat percentage is the best way to assess the change in your body over the course of time. We’re aiming to lose fat and replacing that fat with muscle (body recomposition).

There are many tests, but the availability may vary depending on where you’re from. Additionally, the accuracy can vary wildly.

1. Skin Fold Caliper

calipers

The skin fold test is a common one, usually done by fitness trainers because they don’t have access to other equipment. This is also cheaper and repeatable.

To properly do this test, someone else should be doing it though.

Advantages

  • Fairly accurate
  • Economical (buy online for $10-$20)
  • Repeatable

Disadvantages

  • Potentially highly variable
  • Requires another person (preferably fitness professional)
  • Will vary depending on your food intake timing

Muscleandstrength.com has an excellent procedure on how to properly do this test.

2. Bioelectric Impedance Analysis

Bioelectrical-Impedance-Analysis

Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA) sends an electrical current through your body. The current will vary when it travels because muscle and fat have different water content. Thus a body fat percentage can be calculated.

Advantages

  • Easily tested and repeatable
  • Economical (scales vary between $30 – $100 online)

Disadvantages

  • Food and water intake will change results
  • Inaccurate due to above point
  • People with heart conditions should not use

3. Hydrostatic Weigh

hydrostaticweight

This was considered the best standard of measuring body fat; however, DEXA scans provide more accurate results. Nevertheless, this has a very little margin of error. The measured individual will be submerged under water and be asked to blow out all oxygen in the lungs.

Advantages

  • Accurate

Disadvantages

  • Expensive
  • Impractical (requires equipment)

There are some fitness centers and traveling body fat measuring companies that will do this test.

4. DEXA Scan

dexa

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) is the best, most accurate way to measure body fat. It uses an x-ray to examine bone vs muscle vs fat density. You will find an itemized list of body fat percentage in each region of your body.

Advantages

  • Accurate

Disadvantages

  • Expensive
  • Impractical (requires equipment) unless you are a fitness/bodybuilding professional

Most universities and colleges will have this equipment for testing available to you. Many doctors office also have this equipment. Each test can run between $150 – $400, depending on your area.

 

 

 

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