How To Test Body Fat

How To Test Body Fat

When it comes to measuring your body fat percentages, there are many ways suggested to go about this; however, not all of them are reliable in that they take all of the different compositional elements into account.

For example, the oldest way of measuring body fat percentage is known as the BMI, or the Body Mass Index. This is based on the individual’s height and an average weight for the same but that is not a reliable way of measuring the initial or the changing composition of an individual’s body.

There are two components to body mass in general; fat mass and lean body mass. However, to consider this issue, the lean body mass can also be further divided into three other categories; bone, muscle, and what is commonly known as ‘everything else.’

Considering that all of these different components contribute to the overall body mass, the BMI does not consider how the mass is broken up. Thus bone is equal to muscle, which is equal to everything else; and this does not portray an accurate picture on how much mass is actually body fat.

Another problem with the BMI is that because it does not break the body mass down into the independent categories when one is participating in physical training, the decline in body fat can often be replaced by an increase in muscle mass yet there is no distinction between the two using the BMI.

So what’s next? Now-a-days, a common way to measure body fat percentages is through the use of the “Gold Standard Test.” What is this? Well, it is not a test you can routinely do yourself; rather it is a test that needs to be monitored carefully. You get into a pool of water, expel all of the air from your lungs, and then submerge yourself; the goal being to test for your hydrostatic weight. Often times, it is necessary to repeat this four or five times before an accurate weight can be derived and the results are somewhat questionable.

A second option using the same basic premise as the Gold Standard Test available today is a test in which the BOD POD TM is used and measurements are taken on the air displacement released into an enclosed chamber. While the results here are more accurate, the equipment necessary to perform the test is very difficult to attain. And of course, the equipment is quite costly.

So the DEXA or more commonly called the DXA was introduced to try and compete with the expense involved with the BOD POD TM. However, this device has very poor results as they vary significantly simply based on who manufactured the equipment. So this is one new measurement you definitely want to stay away from!

Perhaps the most beneficial and accurate means of measuring your body fat percentage is found through the use of the BIA technology. BIA stands for Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. This test passes a small electrical current (which is not painful at all) through the body and then measures the body’s electrical resistance which equals the total body’s water content.

The body fat can then be determined through a distinct difference in resistance than the lean body mass has. Thus accurate results are forthcoming in all components of the body individually, instead of lumping them all together as the original testing was prone to do.

One does have to be cautious, however, when using this type of body fat analysis as it should not be done any more frequently than once a week. So those who like to test daily after each workout would not be able to use this method that continuously.

There is some preparation that one must adhere to before beginning this test to assure accurate results. Firstly, you cannot eat or drink for four hours prior to the testing; secondly, you cannot exercise twelve hours prior to testing; thirdly, there can be no consumption of alcohol for forty-eight hours prior; and there must be no evidence of diuretic use at all.

After the testing is complete, measurements from the wrists and the foot are taken and analyzed for body fat, body muscle, and water percentages and the results can be charted for follow-up at a later date when another test may be administered.

So for all of you out there trying to figure out the best way to measure your body fat, the days of girth measurement are over! We all know that weight can deposit itself in many other places than just the waist and stomach; not just those we can see, either! Intra-abdominal deposits are becoming more frequent and the only way to truly know the percentage of body fat you have is to test in an accurate manner as is discussed above.

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