Ways to measure your body fat
There are different ways you can measure your body fat percentage. The key point is how accurately you can get the exact percentage in the body. Some of the methods are discussed below :-
Caliper:- In this method we use a skin fold caliper to measure the body fat percentage. Fold your skin with your fingers and pull it little outwards. Then, use a caliper to measure the thickness of the body fat. The reading that you get on the caliper is compared with the values given in a chart corresponding to particular reading depending on the age and gender of the person. The scale gives the reading in millimeters. There are many different kind of caliper measurements. Some calipers take one measurement and others may take up to 7 measurements. Calculations obtained by calipers are accurate and dependable. Negative aspect of using caliper is that you need to remember the same spot every time you need to take measurement otherwise there will be variations in the measurement. If you are 35+ pounds overweight, then caliper measurement cannot be accurate or skin with so many fats cannot fit inside caliper.
Anthropometric :- This method involves taking measurement of circumference of waist, neck and height of a male to measure the body fat percentage. In case of a female, circumference of neck, hip and height is required. Some calculators are available online, all you need is the measurements using a measuring tape. This is easy to administer and is really inexpensive as all you need to buy is a measurement tape. Accuracy of this measurement method is questionable as the body fat is not measured directly.
Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA) :- This measurement works on the principle of electric impedance. Opposition offered to the flow of current through body is measured. Water content inside the muscle is lot higher than in case of fats so muscles are more conductive than fats. Impedance is then calculated along with weight as well as height metrics. All these values lead to the calculation of fat percentage in the body on BIA scale. The main advantage of this scale is that they are inexpensive and that it is really easy to administer them. Since water level in the body is the main factor in calculating fats with this scale, so results can vary depending upon the hydration level of the body. Also, there accuracy is questionable.
Hydrostatic Weighing :- This fat calculation method is considered as most accurate method in which subject is submerged in a special kind of water tank. The principle is that muscles and bones in the body are denser than water. So, person having larger amount of lean mass of fat free muscles in the body will weight grater in water. So, the fat percentage would be calculated as less. On the other hand, person having high amount fat in the body will weigh less in water as excess fats will make the body lighter in water. So, calculation will show more body fat percentage. The process of measurement takes about half an hour to complete and is expensive. But this measurement technique is very accurate with only +-5% error.
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry Scan (DEXA) :- DEXA is another fats measurement technique that is setting gold standard at the time. The process divides the body into three compartment model: Body minerals, Fat-free mass and total body fat tissue mass. You can get the detailed information about the deposition and distribution of fats in different parts of body with great precision. This technique is also very expensive as you may have to spend about 250 – 270$ for a single test.