How To Measure Body Fat Percentage And Why It’s Important
Body Fat Percentage: Why It’s Important and How to Measure It
Many of us have looked up ways to reduce our body fat percentage without really knowing why. In this article, we are discussing why body fat percentage is so important and the different ways you can measure it.
Reason #1: Health
The body mass index scale alone can classify individuals as being overweight when they actually have a low body fat percentage. The body mass index scale only takes into account your height and weight. This explanation applies to why doctors may say you are in the 90th percentile for weight for your height but you are perfectly healthy. By measuring body fat percentage, you can get a more reliable indicator of your health and whether you will face risk for different chronic diseases and health issues. That being said, maintaining too low a body fat percentage is not necessarily healthy. If your body fat percentage as a male drops below 6% or as a female below 16% it can come with many complications, including reduced energy levels. You want to stay in tip top shape and look good, but don’t forget to stay healthy.
Reason #2: Clothes
We’ve all had to throw out or donate our clothes before because our body changed. Unfortunately, many people need to keep clothes in different sizes since their weight and body fat percentage fluctuate so quickly. You may think you have been gaining a lot of muscle, but when you go to measure your body fat percentage, it becomes clear that you have been in too high a caloric surplus. Then, you try on your jeans and they don’t fit anymore! By measuring your body fat percentage and waist size, you can get a sense what direction your physique is heading in before running into this problem.
Reason #3: Athletic Performance
In sports with weight classes like boxing, gaining or losing body fat percentage can change your ability to compete against individuals in your weight class and can even lead to you having to compete in a higher or lower weight division. Having a lower body fat percentage and weight also helps reduce stress on the body. Each pound a person puts on will add four times that level of stress to the knees. To cure or prevent knee problems, it is a great idea to reduce your weight and body fat percentage and build up the muscles around the knee that support it. Having lower body fat is also critical for high intensity cardiovascular performance. If you are running marathons and completing triathlons, you will need to have a low level of body fat just to give yourself a chance to cross the finish line. Additionally, not all athletes need to have a low body fat percentage. For example, in the NBA Shaquille O’Neal famously gained a lot of weight and increased his body fat percentage entering his first championship season with the Lakers. He won the most valuable player award that year and dominated his competition with his added size.
Reason #4: Physique
If you ask most people why they want to lower their body fat percentage, it is because they want to feel more confident in their physique and appearance. With a low enough body fat percentage, anyone can have six pack abs. It is a misconception that you need to do ab workouts or have a certain amount of muscle in order to have visible abs. That being said, workouts will of course enhance your abs and can make them “pop out.” Trying to achieve this level of body fat percentage can be very discouraging and challenging. Some individuals are born with lower metabolisms and it is unrealistic for them to achieve such low levels of body fat. The most important thing is to strive to achieve a level of body fat that matches your genetics and goals and makes you feel great about yourself.
Now that we know why body fat percentage is so important, here are some ways to measure it.
Method 1: Body Fat Scale
You can buy body fat scales that are available in the $30-60 range on amazon. While this is a cheap and easy way to measure body fat percentage, it is not one of the most accurate ways. If you’re drinking a lot of water before measuring your body fat % on a scale, that can dramatically skew the reading. Still, a mirror and a body fat scale may be enough for most people to get the information they need while still in their own home.
Method 2: Body Fat Caliper
A body fat caliper typically ranges from $6-50. This tool allows you to just pinch your skin lightly and get a reasonably accurate measure of your body fat. It is overall more accurate than a scale, but still trails behind some of the more effective methods.
Method 3: Take Measurements
There are different ways to take measurements of body fat percentage, but they all involve measuring the circumference of different parts of your body. The advantage of this method is you really only need a tape measure and possibly another person. However, it can be more time-consuming than the scale or caliper.
Method 4: Hydrostatic Weighing
Using principles developed by archimedes, hydrostatic weighing is one of the most effective ways to measure body fat percentage. By measuring the fat on your body and lean muscle mass, this technique is able to determine the density of the body. Hydrostatic tests still aren’t widely available and would be more likely to be leveraged in research studies or for high end athletes who can get access to them. For most people, one of the earlier methods will work well enough because they are just looking for trends to see if their body fat percentage is trending downward or upward over an extended period of time.
Overall, it is important to consider the benefits of measuring body fat percentage and to potentially incorporate it into your lifestyle. Just remember to prioritize your health and well-being in the process.
Thanks for reading How To Measure Body Fat Percentage continue to Comparing Popular Diets That Can Reduce Body Fat Percentage