How to Measure Body Fat

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • Understanding Body Fat 
    If your body is to function properly it must have a certain amount of 
    body fat
    . Body fat helps to regulate body temperature, protects the 
    organs, and is the main component for the body’s energy storage. A 
    healthy amount of body fat is important for our well-being. 

    If you wish to lose weight, it is a good idea to determine what 
    percentage of your weight is body fat. Before making a determination as 
    to how much weight you want to lose, it is important to recall that your 
    total body weight is a combination of body fat and lean body mass
    Should someone decide to lose weight, I assume she means fat. Learn why Your Lean-to-Fat Ratio is More Important than BMI.


    Too much body fat can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, 
    heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Too little body fat can deprive 
    your body of stored energy and eventually cause your body to use muscle 
    protein as fuel.

    Measuring Body Fat Percentage
    There are a few ways to measure your percentage of body fat. The 
    different methods help to set baseline values for body composition. Some 
    are more accurate than others and all have pros and cons. The most 
    important thing about measuring body fat is to get consistent results. 

    Skin calipers are probably the most accessible method for measuring body 
    and are inexpensive to buy. Many gyms will have a pair available and 
    trainers who are experienced in their use. 

    Fold assessments can be done on different body sites by pinching the 
    skin and using the caliper to measure the thickness of the folds. A 
    formula is applied to the numbers and body composition can be 
    determined. Common areas for measurement are the chest, arms, abdominals 
    and thighs. For people who are 35 pounds or more overweight, 
    skin folds may not fit well in the caliper and the accuracy will be 

    Skin fold assessments can be done quickly, but the margin for error 
    varies depending on the level of experience of the user.

    Bioelectric Impedance Analysis, or BIA, measures the opposition to the 
    flow of an electric current through the body. Muscles are highly 
    conductive because of the amount of water they hold. Fat has a lower 
    water content and is therefore less conductive. Because water balance 
    is intricate to the BIA test, a person’s level of hydration can effect 
    the accuracy of the results.

    Bioelectrical impedance monitors are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. 
    They do not require much more than the pressing of a button and 
    measurements can be attained in seconds. Therefore, users do not need 
    any particular experience.

    Although the simplicity of administration is attractive, the accuracy of 
    the readings can be a problem. Beyond the level of hydration, other 
    factors that can effect accuracy are meal times and workouts. Recent 
    meals can influence results and exercise can lead to a reading of lower 
    body fat. It is important to take readings at similar times and under 
    similar conditions for the best results.

    Continue to my next post, “More Ways to Measure Body Fat” 
    where we explore additional approaches for collecting measurements.

    Living life well-fed,

    My Bariatric Life


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Published On: April 29, 2014