How To Calculate Body Fat:
Two Methods You Can Use
At Home

There are many ways to calculate body fat. But if you want to do it at home, there are only two methods that are really convenient and reliable.

Calculate Body Fat With Accu Measure Body Fat Calipers

This is all about taking a skin fold measurement – otherwise known as the 'pinch an inch' method.

It's based on the fact that most of the fat on the body is located directly underneath the skin.

Pinch the skin about one inch above your hip bone, and measure how thick the skin fold is with the body fat calipers.

Then look up the measurement of your skin fold in the conversion table that comes with the fat calipers to work out your body fat percentage. It'll also tell you whether you're lean or average.

Now, this poses a bit of a challenge for you to calculate body fat. You'll need to practise pinching the right amount of skin in the same place every time.

One way to be sure is to use a ruler and a felt pen to mark the spot where you're going to pinch. Test it several times on the trot to see if you get any variation in the results. If you get wild fluctuations in the results, you'll just need to practise more.

(By the way, this is not recommended for obese people as the results will not be accurate.)

This is the most affordable way to get your own body fat measurement fairly accurately.

You can get your fat caliper here.

Conclusion

There's a lot of debate about the accuracy of these two methods.

A lot of different factors can affect how accurate the results are. Such things as age, sex, race, body temperature, body water level etc. The thing is, there is as yet no way to measure the body fat percentage exactly (apart from dissection, that is!).

But these two methods will at least give you a ball park figure to work with.

To remove as many variables as possible, try these two tips:

  • Whichever method you choose for calculating your body fat, stick with the same one to monitor your progress. For example, if you measure your body fat with fat calipers this week, don't measure it with the body fat scale next week. Be consistent.
  • Calculate your body fat in the same circumstances as far as you can. Here's what you can do: Take your body fat tests at the same time of day. If you measure it first thing in the morning, always test it first thing in the morning. If you drink a glass of water one hour before the test, do that every time.

    As long as you can detect the changes in your body composition, you don't need to worry about what your body fat percentage is exactly.

    Think of it like an exam grade. If you get a grade A, then you're OK. If you have a B, maybe you'll need to work a bit harder. But within grade A there's a whole range of scores. One grade A student doesn't necessarily get the same number of questions right as another grade A student. There'll be some slight difference. But it's still a good indicator of how well a student is doing.

    In the same way, these body fat tests will help you to know whether your training is working or not. After all, that's the main reason for calculating your body fat percentage. At least these two methods are a lot more reliable than working with your bathroom scales – or even with BMI (Body Mass Index).

If you want to know how much body fat you should have, check out this article about healthy body fat percentage.

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