It can be frustrating to step on the scale and see no change.
While it’s natural to want objective feedback on your progress, body weight shouldn’t be your main focus.
Some “overweight” people are healthy, while others with “normal weight” are unhealthy.
However, your body fat percentage tells you what your weight is comprised of.
Skinfold measurements have been used to estimate body fat for over 50 years Skinfold calipers measure the thickness of your subcutaneous fat — the fat underneath the skin — at certain body locations.
- Advantages: Skinfold calipers are very affordable, and measurements can be taken quickly. They can be used at home but are also portable.
- Disadvantages: The method requires practice and basic anatomy knowledge. Also, some people don’t enjoy getting their fat pinched.
- Availability: Calipers are affordable and easy to purchase online.
- Accuracy: The skill of the person performing the skinfolds can vary, impacting the accuracy. Measurement errors can range from 3.5–5% body fat
Body shape varies from person to person, and the shape of your body provides information about your body fat
Measuring the circumference of certain body parts is a simple method of body fat estimation.
For example, the US Army uses a body fat calculation that simply requires an individual’s age, height and a few circumference measurements.
For men, the circumferences of the neck and waist are used in this equation. For women, the circumference of the hips is also included
- Advantages: This method is easy and affordable. A flexible measuring tape and calculator are all you need. These tools can be used at home and are portable.
- Disadvantages: Body circumference equations may not be accurate for all people due to differences in body shape and fat distribution.
- Availability: A flexible measuring tape is easily available and very affordable.
- Accuracy: The accuracy can vary widely based on your similarity to the people used to develop the equations. The error rate can be as low as 2.5–4.5% body fat, but it can also be much higher
As the name implies, DXA uses X-rays of two different energies to estimate your body fat percentage .
During a DXA scan, you lie on your back for approximately 10 minutes while an X-ray scans over you.
The amount of radiation from a DXA scan is very low. It’s about the same amount you receive during three hours of your normal life
This method, also known as underwater weighing or hydrodensitometry, estimates your body composition based on its density
This technique weighs you while submerged under water after exhaling as much air as possible from your lungs.
You are also weighed while you are on dry land, and the amount of air left in your lungs after you exhale is estimated or measured.
BIA devices detect how your body responds to small electrical currents. This is done by placing electrodes on your skin.
Some electrodes send currents into your body, while others receive the signal after it has passed through your body tissues.
Electrical currents move through muscle easier than fat due to the higher water content of muscle
The BIA device automatically enters your body’s response to the electrical currents into an equation that predicts your
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