The body fat calculator estimates body fat using weight, age, and waist size. A more accurate body fat test can be done using skin fold calipers (skin fold test) and inputting measurements into the calculator. Skin fold tests are the cheapest way to estimate body fat percentages.
Why Body Fat Percentage is Better Than Weighing Yourself?
Body fat percentage is a superior indicator of health and wellness compared to body weight (or BMI). It gives an indication of body composition (muscle and fat). Two people with the same body weight and height could have completely different body composition — a lower body fat percentage indicates a higher lean mass — and potentially better health and fitness outcomes. Unfortunately some weight loss programs result in loss of muscle mass; You lose weight but maintain the same level of body fat (referred to as a “skinny fat” person).
How to Measure
It’s not easy. Use your regular measurements to see a pattern or trend rather than rely on exact measurements gained from fat calipers. When taking your measurements, do it 3 times to see the pattern. It’s important that you measure in exactly the same spot each time. Follow the instructions that come with the fat calipers carefully.
Other Methods: Body Fat Scales
Another way to measure body fat is to use a body fat analyzer (most popular is the Omron Athlete Body Fat Analyzer). This device measures body fat using Bio-electric Impedance Analysis (BIA). A very low power current is passed through the body and makes an assessment based on the level of water content in the body (muscle holds a high water content while fat holds a low content).
Opinion is mixed on the best tool to use. Analyzer tools cost more, but are easier to use compared with fat calipers.
RECOMMENDATION: If you are obese, you will find it easier to use a body fat analyzer. As you become slimmer you may find calipers provide a more accurate result (as it is easier to “pinch” the fat).
Body Fat Rating Scale
*Men are considered borderline at 25% body fat and clinically obese at 30%, while women are borderline at 30% and clinically obese at 35% body fat.
**A lower body fat percentage for women increases chance of amenorrhea (cessation of menstruation).
Understanding Body Fat
Body fat is deposited in 3 places:
- Under the skin (subcutaneous),
- Around internal organs (internal fat), and
- Fat inside muscle tissue (intramuscular fat).
Skin-fold calipers measure the subcutaneous fat, and from this, derive a body fat percentage. This explains why body fat analyzers are better for more obese people, as the amount if internal fat will normally be higher (and is not picked up by the fat calipers). See more about fat distribution here.
Ideal Weight Loss
An ideal weight loss regimen would result in loss of fat while still maintaining (or even building) more muscle. Muscle is metabolically active and burns calories just by sitting still! Unsurprisingly, this is very difficult to achieve. Simply dropping food intake and doing nothing else will usually result in a loss of fat as well as muscle.