How to Measure Body Fat | 6 Methods to Try

You may feel bad about your body fat, but do you know your body fat is quite important? Yes, you read that right. Your body fat is important.

The fat stored in your body, from the food items you consume, is utilized by the body to generate energy and body insulin. According to health experts, each one of us needs somebody fat to survive. However, if this body fat accumulates too much, that leads to obesity which can turn dangerous while causing many health problems and issues.

The amount of body fat percentage is one crucial factor that one should be aware of. Also, you should keep in mind that even a bodybuilder person and an obese person can share the same bodyweight, but they can have different percentages of body fat. This makes them healthy and unhealthy as well.

Till now, you must have understood the importance of being aware of the body fat percentage. Finding body fat is not as simple as just simply stepping on the weighing scale. You should be aware of some reliable and accurate methods to measure body fat.

So, would you be interested in exploring the various ways with which you can measure body fat? If yes, then read along as we have combined some reliable and effective ways that can help you measure your body fat percentage.

 

Ways to measure body fat:

Skinfold Calipers:

Skinfold Calipers

This is one of the oldest methods used to measure body fat and is also recommended by many health experts. In simple words, this method measures the fat thickness underneath the skin from different body locations, specifically 3 or 7 varying locations.

These body locations are also different in men and women. For example, the following are the body locations for testing body fat in men and women:

  • For 3-location measurements in women, body fat is tested from triceps, hip bone area, and above, and thigh or abdomen.
  • For 7-location measurements in women, body fat is tested from chest, armpit, beneath shoulder blade area.

On the other hand,

  • For 3-location measurements in men, body fat is tested from chest, thigh or abdomen, triceps, and area under the scapula.
  • For 7-location measurements in men, body fat is tested from the armpit and area under the shoulder blade.

Advantages of the method:

  • It is an affordable method
  • Quick and easy measurements without any hassles
  • Portable machines which can be used at homes as well

Disadvantages of the method:

  • It needs practice and some basic knowledge of anatomy
  • It pinches the fat, which many people do not like

Availability:

  • The skinfold calipers are easily available in various online stores

Accuracy of the method:

The accuracy of this method is dependent on the skills and knowledge of the person performing this test. However, the chances of having any error range from 3.5 to 5% overall.

 

Measurement of the body circumference:

Measurement of the body circumference

We all have different body shapes, which is one crucial parameter in the measurement of body fat. You can easily measure the body fat value using the circumference of the body parts.

The body parts used to measure circumference varies in men and women.

  • For calculating the body fat in men, the circumference of the neck and waist are used.
  • For calculating the body fat in women, the circumference of the hips is also made a part.

Advantages of the method:

  • It is an easy and affordable method to rely on
  • It needs minimal accessories like a flexible measuring tape and a calculator.
  • These tools are portable, and thus this method can be done at home

Disadvantages of this method:

  • The circumference may not be accurate because of the varying body weight, shape, and fat distribution.

Availability:

  • The measuring tape is conveniently available at offline and online stores

Accuracy of the method:

The accuracy of this method can largely vary depending on the similarity between two people. Also, the error rate in this method lies between 2.5 to 4.5% overall.

 

Hydrostatic Weighing:

This method is popularly known as underwater weighing, and it helps in estimating the composition of the body according to its density. The technique used in this method is to weigh your body after submerging it under the water and exhaling maximum air from your lungs.

Besides measuring your body weight under the water, this method also measures your body weight on the land. Using all these measured values, your body density is measured. The calculated body density is then used to measure your body fat percentage.

Advantages of this method:

  • The measurements calculated using this method are accurate
  • This method is also quick to deliver the desired results

Disadvantages of this method:

  • Individuals are submerged in the water, which can be a problem for some people.
  • It can be difficult for many people to hold their breath underwater while taking the measurements.

Availability:

  • The machine needed for this method is only available in medical institutes, universities, and very specific fitness centers.

Accuracy of this method:

The readings and measurements calculated using this method are highly accurate. The chances of errors in this method are around 2% overall.

 

Air Displacement method or Bod Pod:

This method is very similar to hydrostatic weighing. It measures the body fat using the density of the body. The only difference in both the methods is the mediator that is used for measuring the body density.

In hydrostatic weighing, body density is calculated using water. However, in the air displacement method, the body density is calculated using air in place of water. Therefore, the machine used to calculate the body density forms a stable relationship between air volume and air pressure.

The individual sits in a chamber of egg shape. The air pressure inside the chamber fluctuates after regular intervals. The average value is estimated after measuring the air readings at different fluctuations.

You should take care when using this method because the individual should wear body-fitting clothes during the test to get accurate readings.

Advantages of this method:

  • It is a quick and accurate method to rely on
  • It uses the surrounding air to calculate the body density

Disadvantages of this method:

  • This method is relatively expensive

Availability:

  • The machine used in this method is available only at universities, medical or fitness centers.

Accuracy of this method:

The results generated using this method are highly accurate. The error rates in this method are between 2 to4 % overall.

 

3-D Body Scanners:

This method revolves around the shape of the body. It uses efficient and advanced infrared scanners to get a detailed, thorough look at the shape of the body. The scanners used in this method creates a 3-D structure of the body to have a clear idea of the required details.

The sensors used in this method can be of different sizes and shapes. Some scanners are similar to a standing rotating surface, while others rotate around your body for thorough scanning.

In some ways, this method is very similar to measuring the body circumference, but you get many other details using the 3-D scanners, which help in the easy estimation of body fat.

Advantages of this method:

  • 3-D scanners are quick and easier to use
  • They provide accurate results within no time

Disadvantages of this method:

  • Such advanced scanners are not easily available
  • Scanners are not much affordable

Availability:

  • It becomes difficult to find an accurate 3-D scanner

Accuracy of this method:

3-D scanners are relatively accurate from many other available devices. However, the error rate in this method is around 4% overall.

 

Multi-Compartment Model:

Amongst all the mentioned methods, the multi-compartment model is one of the most accurate ones to calculate body fat. The general principle of this method is that it divides the entire body into 3-different parts to get the required measurements.

The body undergoes several tests to calculate body mass, body water, bone content, and body volume. The readings obtained from these different tests are then combined to get an overall representation of the body, which helps get an accurate value of the body fat percentage.

Advantages of this method:

  • It is the most accurate method available

Disadvantages of this method:

  • It is an expensive method and also demands a lot of time

Availability:

  • The following tests needed in this method are often conducted or done under the supervision of professionals using advanced equipment.

Accuracy of this method:

The accuracy level of the measurements or readings is high. The error rate in this method is even less than 1% overall.

 

Conclusion:

These are some of the popular methods available to measure body fat percentage in a person. Though all the methods are reliable and trustworthy but you should choose the one that suits you the best.

How to select the most desirable method amongst the mentioned ones? It depends on the following:

  • The need to calculate body fat percentage
  • The importance of accuracy of the results
  • The frequency of testing your body for body fat percentage
  • The place where you want to perform the tests
  • The price availability

No matter which method you use, it is important to be consistent with that method to get the desired results. For most methods, the best time to conduct the test is either early morning, after going to the bathroom, or before consuming anything.

If you need any other related information about any of the mentioned methods, please contact us in the comment section. We would surely reach out to you with the possible details.

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