Knowing your level of body fat can be one good way of assessing your current fitness rating.
Our caveman ancestors were not as concerned about body fat as we are today. That’s largely because there were far fewer people overweight or obese thanks to their active lives and healthier eating.
Today we live very different lifestyles and, as a result, maintaining a healthy muscle to body fat ratio is a very real concern. For those who are interested in assessing their fitness levels, knowing how to calculate body fat can be a valuable tool. Here, then, are four ways you can determine how much body fat you’re carrying.
#1 – Skin Fold Caliper
Pinch your belly fat with your fingers, and then use the skin fold caliper to take the measurement, which is in millimeters. You can then compare your reading to a chart showing age and gender to get your body fat percentage. There are numerous types of caliper tests on the market. This is the most effective and accurate method of measuring body fat.
#2 – Anthropometric
This U.S. Navy method uses body circumference measurements – for men it uses neck, waist and height circumference, while for women it uses neck, hips and height. The Anthropometic test is considered the least accurate method of measuring body fat, so while there is a calculator available on the Navy’s website, there are better methods.
#3 – Bioelectric Impedance Analysis
BIA measures the electrical impedance to the flow of electric current through the body. There are many of these devices on the market, so consumers have options. This method is easy to use and you can buy a BIA device for under $50. This method will even work when you are 35+ pounds overweight. However, for those with low body fat the readings can be very inaccurate.
#4 – Hydrostatic Weighing
Hydrostatic weighing is considered the best method as it has an error rate of only +/- 1.5%. However, it also requires that you are submerged in a special tank of water. Because bone and muscle is denser than water, the leaner you are the more you will actually weigh in the water, while the more fat you have the less you will weigh in water. The accuracy of this reading requires you to blow out all the air from your lungs in the pretest. The test is not always available depending on where you live and the cost may be prohibitive to many. It costs around $150 and takes about 30 minutes to complete.
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