You may have already heard that tracking your body fat percentage is one of the best ways to track your weight loss progress, as this way you can be certain that you are losing fat and not water or muscle.
There are several methods available for you to ascertain your body fat percentage; some can be done at home, while others require you to spend money and use big equipment. Here are some of the most effective:
1) Skin Fold Calipers
You can purchase these calipers, pinch the fat on your body, and place the pinched area in between two calipers to measure your body fat percentage. This method is pretty dependable and repeatable; however if you are more than 40 pounds overweight, you may not be able to use this caliper method since the pinched fat may not be able to fit between the calipers.
2) Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
A BIA scale sends tiny electrical currents through the body and records the resistance that the body offers to this current. This resistance is then used to determine the percentage of body fat in the person’s body. This is the simplest way to measure your body fat, and the scales are usually not too expensive. However, the accuracy of this method is questionable and it also depends on how well your body is hydrated when you step on the scale.
3) The US Navy Method
This means using body measurements to determine body fat percentage. This is the cheapest way to get your body fat measurement, since all you need is a body tape measure or a cloth measuring tape. For men, you measure the waist, neck, and height; for women, the measurements taken are of the hips, neck, and height. While this is an easy at-home method that anyone can use, its accuracy is highly questionable.
4) Hydrostatic Weighing and DEXA Scans
Hydrostatic weighing is the traditional gold standard of determining one’s body fat percentage, where the person is submerged in a special type of water tank. The DEXA scan, however, is somewhat of a “new gold standard”, where the person just lies down and the scanner determines the amount and distribution of fat in the body. Both these methods are generally not practical, since hydrostatic weighing is uncomfortable and both these methods cost around $150 to $300 every time you perform them, which is quite pricey.
In a nutshell, there are the many different methods you can use to track your body fat. However, for daily or weekly measurements at home, there are only three methods you can use, as detailed above.