Body fat, in simple terms, is the fat stored from all the foods we eat. This can be termed essential body fat because the body then uses this stored fat for insulation and energy.
What is Body Fat?
Specifically, body fat refers to the Adipose tissue (a connective tissue including lipid-rich cells), which plays a significant role in metabolism. Measuring body fat percentage does not refer to simply checking your weight. For instance, a person suffering from obesity and healthy bodybuilding may have the same weight but will not have the same body fat percentage.
Here is How You Can Calculate Body Fat Percentage
Since we have already steered clear of the statement that body fat calculator does not merely look at your weight, but is much more than that, let’s look at all the different ways in which you can figure out how much body fat you have.
1. Use a Body Fat Scale
Body fat scales encompass Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) technology. This means that the moment you step on the scale, an electrical current passes via one of your legs to your pelvis and drops down from the other leg.
Water and muscles conduct more electricity than body fat – hence, if the scale senses more resistance, more body fat is recorded.
The scale produces an equation after combining data collected from recording your height, weight, gender specifications, and age. The equation then helps provide you with the calculated body fat percentage.
The accuracy of this method to calculate body fat may not be desirably accurate as there are a few factors that may affect them:
- The food consumed last
- Extent and time of the last exercise
- Body’s hydration level
2. Use a Measuring Tape
One of the easiest ways to calculate body fat is by using a tape measure, the kind you use to take measurements when sewing. Make sure you know your height accurately in inches.
Ask someone to assist you to calculate body fat with this method, as you need to get specific measurements, hindrance in any of the measurements will lead to a miscalculation in calculating body fat.
Measure the circumference of your neck region, hips, and waist – make sure none of these are enhanced or clenched unnaturally.
To calculate body fat percentage, follow the mentioned calculations: add the measurements of your hips and waist. Proceed to subtract the neck’s measurement from the value obtained after adding the other two.
For instance, let’s say your neck’s measurement is 13, hips are 36, and waist is 26.
Your calculated body fat will be : 36 + 26 = 62 and then, 62 – 13 = 49.
This is termed your circumference value.
Again, you can ask someone to assist you with this to calculate body fat. Accurately measure your abdomen and neck. From the measurement of your abdomen, subtract the neck’s measured value.
Things To Be Careful About
- When using the measuring tape to calculate body fat, make sure that it makes contact with your skin and does not press it.
- To get accurate measurements, it is suggested that you calculate an average value, that is, take two measurements of the same regions and then divide these by 2. Use the obtained value.
3. SkinFold Calipers Method
The test carried out in this method to calculate body fat is referred to as the Skin-Fold test, and the tool used to do it is known as Calipers. What you do in this method is gently pinch various areas of your body to calculate your body fat.
The method to calculate body fat is the most cost-effective and requires you to invest significantly less time.
Here’s how you can calculate body fat with this method:
- Make sure to measure the fatty area of all the parts. For women, take measurements of the fatty region of your triceps, thigh, and the suprailliac – a part that is right above your hip bone. For men, take measurements of your chest, abdomen, and thighs.
- There are two ways to convert the numbers into body fat percentages: either refer to the instructions provided on the calipers’ packaging or take the help of skinfold calculators, which are present online to steer clear of doing the mathematics.
- Make sure to measure only one side, preferably of your right side, to have consistency.
- When you pinch, keep in mind to mark about 1 cm above it.
- For more accuracy, take two measurements and calculate the average value to calculate body fat.
The method of plethysmography to calculate body fat requires you to get undressed and go inside a chamber that is shaped like an egg; this chamber is known as the BOD POD. This chamber will determine your body density by measuring your volume and body weight. This data is then processed to determine your body fat percentage.
This method has been deemed to be highly accurate out of the various ways used.
Make sure to carry out this process in a professional setting with the help of experts.
As the name suggests, this method to calculate body fat uses water and then your body’s density in order to obtain the body fat percentage.
Get undressed and sit on a chair that is safely submerged in water. When your body exerts a buoyant force on the water, at that instant, your body’s weight, also referred to as the density, will be calculated. This recorded weight is then used to calculate the body fat percentage.
This method is also considered to be of high accuracy, also referred to as the ‘gold standard’ by some.
While the method promises utmost accuracy, it must also be kept in mind that it has to be carried out at an advanced, expert facility. Additionally, going through a test that goes on underwater may not be comfortable for all.
6. CT Scan
Considered to be the most accurate method for calculating body fat percentage, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computerised Tomography (CT) scans involve gathering cross-sectional images of your body.
This method is quite accurate – almost the most accurate, but the downside remains very costly.
What is BMI?
Body Mass Index BMI is a number that lets you know if you are underweight, have normal weight, or have excess body fat, that is overweight.
The Difference Between BMI And Body Fat Percentage
However, it is very different from body fat percentages as it does not disclose the information for the same.
To further clear out the difference between the two, here’s an example: Suppose you are a healthy person with a well-built body. In this case, your BMI value will be high due to the presence of all the muscles. But, your body fat percentage will be below.
Ideal Body Fat
The ideal body fat range varies with age and with the variation of male-female. A woman between 21-39 years of age will have a healthy body fat of 21%-32%. When females age between 40-59 years, their ideal body fat must be under 23%-33%.
For the gender male, healthy body fat for the age between 20-39 remains under 8%-19%, and that for males aged between 40-59 is to be under 11%-21%.
Maintaining Healthy Body Fat
- Notch up your water intake and stay well hydrated throughout the day.
- Include healthy fruits and vegetables in your diet and maintain a good level of nutrients.
- Exercise and stretch regularly.
- Additionally, mental health plays an essential role in maintaining all the other factors.
Maintaining Healthy Body Weight
Like maintaining healthy body fat, it is equally important to take care of your body weight. It should be kept in mind that you need not always lose weight or get skinny to be termed healthy – it all varies with age, height, and other physical-biological aspects.
Here’s how you can have and maintain a healthy weight:
1. Do Regular Physical Activities
Get adequate physical activity done regularly. Ideally, you should spend about 150 minutes exercising, walking, or cycling. Other than that, you can opt for 75 minutes of pure, vigorous exercising – swimming, running
2. Indulge in some Sport
You may opt for strength training twice a week, such as lifting weights.
3 . Follow a Disciplined Diet
Follow a disciplined diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Try to cut out or minimize the intake of processed food.
4. Be Careful about how Much you are Eating
While cutting out fast food or food from restaurants may not be a possibility for everybody, you can still attempt to be careful about the portion of what you are eating.
5. Plan your Diet
Get in touch with a dietician to understand and finally develop a diet and exercise plan that best suits you.
The bottom line remains that you should maintain a healthy weight and a healthy body fat level. This also means that you make efforts to minimize the bad cholesterol, which will then save you from life-threatening health problems – especially heart diseases.
Men and women, their height and weight, and other factors relating to health – both physical and mental are what directly influence the value you obtain when you calculate body fat.
Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.