You can break down body fat testing techniques into four methods. There is the Navy Method, Home Body Fat Scales, Skin fold Calipers a and lastly, Hydrostatic Weighing. For our purposes we will only review the three most commonly applied.
Home Body Fat Scales – This device measures body fat using the Bio metrical Impedance method. A very small electrical current is passed through your body and the resistance is measured. When this result is compared to the weight, the percentage of body fat can then be determined.
This is probably the most error prone test. There are several factors that can affect the test results. There are already small electrical currents in the body that are produced by the heart and the skeletal muscle. Water in the body and skin temperature can also affect the test. You should avoid exercise at least 12 hours before your test and also fast at least 4 hours before. This will insure the most accurate test results.
The most commonly used method for determining body fat is the Skin Fold Caliper test. It is possible to do this yourself if you have an easy to use caliper and follow the direction closely. The Accumeasuer Caliper is probably the best choice if you do it yourself. It is highly recommended that you have this test done by a professional to get accurate results. A set of body fat calipers is used to take several measurements on different body parts. When these measurements are plugged into a formula your body fat can be determined.
Hydrostatic Weighing- Hydrostatic weighing; also known as under water weighing is the most accurate way to calculate body fat. That is if you can find a hydrostatic weighing tank. How is it used? First you need to understand the Archimedes Principle. If you took physics in school, you will understand this better. But if you did not, I will explain it now. You or the examiner calculates your body density by measuring the amount of water you displace when you immerse yourself in water. The Archimedes principle reasons that the amount of water displaced when an object is partially or totally immersed in water, is proportional to the weight of that object. In this case you are the object. Then a formula is used to calculate body fat based on your body density. The problem is finding a hydrostatic weighing tank! This is too sophisticated for most people; but it remains the most accurate.
Does it really matter if you keep track of your body fat? Most people would say its way too much trouble. With all the different exercise programs and diets out there; knowing what your body fat is can help determine what program you should choose. It should be a vital part of your weight loss plan. Fat loss is just as important as limiting calories and losing pounds. If you want to track your diet or exercise plan progress, then body fat measurement is the most objective way to do this. When trying to lose weight, always remember to set realistic goals and don’t give up!