Getting started on your fitness journey can be exciting—until you find the scale fixated on a certain number. What’s worse is that when you first get started, you might find yourself gaining weight, which is the complete opposite of what you’d imagined.
The thing with bodyweight is that the number you see on the scale doesn’t only indicate the fat in your body. It covers all your bone mass, your muscles, the meal you had, the water in your body, and your fat. Getting an accurate estimate of the fat on its own is almost impossible using a normal scale; you’ll need to use other methods.
To keep ahead of your fitness progress, you can accurately measure your body fat through the following methods:
This method offers a simple way to measure body fat without any complicated equipment. By using a measuring tape, like the one used in sewing, you measure the circumference around various body parts and record them to compare your progress. As simple as it is, tape measurement alone won’t provide a very accurate result. To make the most of this DIY method, it’s best that you use a calculator designed for body fat measurement. You start by entering your waist measurement, total body weight, and your gender. The calculator then takes care of the complex mathematical formulas used to measure body fat based on these inputs, and it gives you a more accurate estimate.
There’s another—more accurate—DIY way to measure body fat, and it’s the skinfold method. This entails using skinfold calipers to pinch the skin and its underlying layer of fat. You can measure the skinfold thickness at 3 to 7 body regions, which vary slightly depending on whether you’re male or female. Skinfold measurement requires skilled individuals to carry it out correctly. Some individuals may also be uncomfortable getting their skin pinched at sensitive regions.
Body Fat Scale
There are scales designed specifically to divide the body weight measurement into its sources. These scales operate on a method called the bioelectrical impedance method (BIA). By passing a weak current up through your body, the scale can measure the resistance that this current face. The resistance will vary depending on the kind of tissues it passes through, body fat imposing the most resistance. To get the most out of it, you’ll be required to enter your age, gender, and height, and then you’ll get an estimate of your body fat percentage. The accuracy of the scale typically depends on its manufacturer.
If you want more accurate ways to measure your body fat, then, getting a body scan provides you with a better solution. The most precise way of getting a body scan would be the DXA method, or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. In this method, you lie on your back without moving for about 10 minutes while the device measures your body fat using X-rays of two different energies. Not only does it provide accurate body fat measurements, but it also calculates bone density, lean mass, and fat percentage in different body parts. While it’s one of the most accurate body fat measuring methods, it’s only available in specialized medical facilities.
On the other hand, 3D body scanners are quickly growing in popularity and availability. Technically, a 3D scanner does the same job as the tape measurement method; it estimates your body fat based on your body shape.
The hydrostatic weighing technique uses water to measure body fat based on your density. After exhaling all the air in your lungs, you’ll hold your breath and get fully submerged in water, after which your weight is measured. You’ll also weigh your body on the ground after fully exhaling. By comparing the results, you’ll get a very accurate body fat measurement.
Bod Pod (Air Displacement Plethysmography)
The bod pod method uses the same concept that hydrostatic weighing does, but it depends on air to measure the density instead of water. By placing varying degrees of external air pressure on you, your fat percentage can be calculated through the relationship between volume and pressure.
Getting an accurate body fat measurement is essential to keep your fitness goals on track. A normal scale will give a total view of your body, which can stay constant or increase, even when you’re shedding fat. You can use simple DIY methods like tape measurement and skinfold calipers to estimate body fat, or you can use other devices, such as the body fat scale, body scanner, hydrostatic weighing, and bod pod, to get more accurate results.