Assessing  Body Fat composition with Caliper

When it comes to assessing fat composition there are several methods. Some are easy, could be done at home, even by yourself. Usually those methods are just estimations and are not very accurate.

The other spectrum of methods are done in medical institutions like low radiation DXA Scan (Dual-emission X-ray absorptiometry) tests to better gauge your body fat composition.  So, curious how accurate these are? There’s no way to be 100% accurate when measuring bodyfat, but using calipers and taking multiple test averages method, you can usually close in on the accurate “range” of % of body fat.

How to measure with calipers?

Do it frequently and use it not as an accurate measure of your actual percentage, but rather as a measure of the trend over time. Depending on the quality and your experience with them your results may vary. There is a standard deviation of 3-5 points between actual body fat and caliper results.

The calipers look simple but it is truly hard to master. You will need to use it at least a hundred times to get comfortable with them. For most people it is better to measure changes in body fat and keep track of your weight progress.

Having a pear body shape

You really can’t judge your body fat by your body shape. That’s highly subjective considering the width of your body and the angle of which your legs attach at your hips rather than purely fat. No bodyfat percentage test will be 100% accurate. If you want to lose more bodyfat, you can reduce your caloric intake or increase your activity without knowing this number.

DXA scan and body fat

DXA scans are very accurate in body composition assessment including the analysis and publication of representative data. Yet it exposes body with a low dose of radiation, and could be only done in a medical setting. DXA body composition is much more than whole body percent fat. 

Originally it was used for bone density assessment and later improved to extent it can assess lean body mass, body fat, and bone density as well. SO it’s very accurate and now it costs usually around 100 USD. DXA is a special imaging modality that is not typically available on general use x-ray systems because of the need for special beam filtering and near-perfect spatial registration of the two attenuations. 

DXA does expose the patient and operator to ionizing radiation but the dose is very small to both. The effective radiation dose from a single whole body DXA (< 10 microSieverts) is similar to the normal background radiation received over one day. However, most countries require licensing of the technologist and a designated X-ray site supervisor.

Measuring body fat with bodyfat scale

The easiest and most convenient way of measuring body fat.  This can be helpful while losing weight. With more insights and data, you’ll be able to lose weight in an effective manner.

Whats the main benefit of such scale in my opinion? So, you’ve decided not to be so fat. By monitoring your progress you can start eating better and still by simple scale track your progress. I weigh every morning to keep myself focused.

I realize that fat loss is more than just weight. In the morning before eating breakfast, I stand on the scale. I see my weight, BF%, Muscle%, Bone%, BMI. I also see a graph of my weight for the past few days to see if I’m headed in the right direction. My scale is connected to WiFi and automatically sends the information to an app on my iPhone as well as the internet website. It’s that simple.

How often do you weigh yourself?

This scale depends on measuring electric resistance through body. Depending on how much lean mass and fat you have the scale has an algorithm to give you very close estimations. For an individual, it’s not the number that matters most, it’s the progress, are you on the right side of the curve, are you plateauing, are you making daily, monthly progress?

 Results can also vary depending on whether your feet are wet or dry. They  should be dry, according to the instructions, whether you recently exercised, and how much water you had to drink.

Calculate your BMI / body mass index

Body mass index is a marker of your oveall body fat and lean mass ratio. If it’s in a normal range It should be called “ideal”. It’s what you probably weighed at 18. “Overweight” means “you should probably lose some weight.” It is expected that most people of a certain age will be in this category. “Obese” means that you should be seriously concerned about your health.

  1. If you need to lose fat/weight, you need some kind of measure. Saying “I am down to 200 pounds” is basically meaningless without taking height into account. “moved down a BMI class” means something.
  2. What the classes (Normal, overweight, obese) measure, is the LIKELIHOOD of having health problems AS A RESULT of your weight. If you are class three obese, your fat will most likely will be the thing that kills you. It is NOT about aesthetics.
  3. The PROBLEM with BMI is the names. People hear “Obese” and freak out and decide that the system is broken. It’s NOT about aesthetics. You can be overweight and hot.

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