When reducing body fat (or even gaining it), it can be useful to have a means of measuring your progress. Stepping on the scale isn’t always the best indicator of whether or not you’ve lost or gained fat – changes in muscle mass, bone density and even the amount of urine in your bladder could interfere with results. So just how do you know how much body fat you’ve lost/gained? This post lists a few different methods for measuring body fat.
The scale test
As mentioned above, the scale test isn’t always a reliable way to measure body fat, because so many other tissues and fluids within our body can influence our weight. The biggest benefit of stepping on a scale is that it is easy to do compared to many other body fat measurement methods. You can also improve the results of a scale test by buying a smart scale, which ‘estimates’ the amount of weight that is body fat. Check out this guide at tomsguide.com to compare some of the best smart scales.
Using a tape measure, it’s possible to measure areas of the body such as the waist or thighs to see if they have become larger or slimmer. Like stepping on scale, this is a fairly easy way to measure body fat, although it’s not particularly precise or accurate. You need to make sure that you measure the exact same part of the body each time. You also need to account for factors like muscle growth or bloat, which could interfere with results.
You can also use skin callipers to check how much fat is under a fold of skin. This is another relatively easy way to measure body fat and can be more precise than using a tape measure as you can avoid including muscle. However, like a tape measure, you need to measure the exact same part of the body each time for results to be consistent.
A BMI (body mass index) test involves dividing your weight by your height. As you can imagine, this is another very easy way to measure one’s body fat – but it is definitely not accurate. Still, it is recommended by many health professionals to get a rough estimate idea of whether you weight less or more than most people your height. Learn more about the BMI test here at nhs.uk.
Body composition scan
Body composition scans are designed to provide the most accurate results when it comes to body fat, muscle mass and bone density. These scans involve using DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) to get a 3D model of the inside of the body. Such scans are provided by specialist companies as found at sites like dexacan.ca. It’s definitely not the cheapest or most convenient method of measuring one’s body fat – however, if you want truly accurate results, it’s the best option.
This method involves sitting in a tank of water and measuring one’s underwater weight compared to one’s out-of-water weight. Because fat is less dense than bone and muscle, it weighs less underwater, and it is therefore possible to estimate the amount of fat in a person’s body by comparing the results to their out-of-water weight. Hydrostatic weighing is fairly accurate compared to other methods (although not as accurate as a body composition scan). The drawback of this method is that there are few places that provide it and it’s often at a high cost. Because it involves staying underwater for a long period, it is also not for everyone.