Workout Techniques

6 Strategies of Measuring Physique Fats and Their Execs and Cons

What’s your physique fats proportion? Most health fanatics need to know their physique fats proportion, because it’s one of many 4 parts of physique composition—the opposite three being physique mass, fats mass, and fats free mass. An excessive amount of physique fats ends in weight problems and elevated waist circumference, which may improve danger for heart problems.

There are a number of methods to estimate physique fats, and we’ve gotten to the underside of them. Right here’s all the pieces it’s good to find out about estimating your physique fats proportion, and—relying in your way of life and health targets—attempting to lower it. 

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Hydrostatic Weighing

The way it Works

Hydrostatic (or underwater) weighing is a type of estimating physique fats proportion through which an individual is totally submerged in a pool of water. “You sit on a particular scale within the water, submerge your complete physique together with your head, exhale fully to lower lung quantity so the physique floats as little as attainable, after which the density of the physique is measured,” says Richard Weil, M. Ed., CDE and Director of the Weight Loss Program at Mt. Sinai St Luke’s Hospital. “That worth is plugged into an equation to estimate physique fats. Fats floats and that’s the precept.”


In line with the NSCA Necessities of Private Coaching, the usual of error in different strategies of estimating physique fats equivalent to pores and skin fold evaluation, bioelectrical impedance, and anthropometric measures are established in opposition to HW and these strategies could have extra error than HW. HW was previously essentially the most trusted physique composition testing methodology up till the Bod Pod got here into play. Now, it’s up for debate.


Some individuals may really feel uncomfortable exhaling all the air from their lungs whereas underwater, though it’s carried out in shallow water. The tank have to be emptied and cleaned after every weighing, thus it takes longer to carry out a number of exams in a day in comparison with a Bod Pod. “We think about the prices of UWW better than the worth,” says Weil.

Bod Pod

How It Works

The Bod Pod is an egg formed system that measures physique quantity and physique weight to find out physique density and physique fats. First, you step on an digital scale outdoors of the system which measures your weight. Then, you measure the air stress of the Bod Pod with out you in it. Subsequent, step into the chamber and let the machine measure the air stress with you in it.

These values gives you the quantity of the empty Bod Pod and the quantity of the pod with you inside. Subtract these two numbers and also you’ve acquired your physique quantity. Divide your weight by your quantity and also you’ve acquired your density. The software program makes use of density to estimate physique fats.


We tried a Bod Pod and it solely took a couple of minutes to finish two testing trials. The outcomes are printed instantly and also you additionally get your resting metabolic fee (RMR) and complete vitality expenditure estimates (TEE). Current analysis, equivalent to this 2003 European Medical Journal of Vitamin research and this 2002 American Journal of Medical Vitamin research exhibits that the Bod Pod is secure and correct for physique composition evaluation.

“BodPod could be very correct compared with HW,” says Weil. “Relying on the inhabitants measured, the error may be as little as 1-2 p.c.”


For the reason that process was so carefree, it’s laborious to level to any damaging facet. There are specific issues you need to do to ensure that the remaining to work correctly.

“The Bod Pod could be very delicate to saggy clothes so it’s a must to put on clothes that’s type becoming and doesn’t have cotton in it as a result of cotton traps air and the air compresses otherwise,” says Christopher Dunbar, PhD, MPH, CCEP, RCEP, FACSM.

“You additionally should measure lung quantity. Some individuals use the Bod Pod they usually don’t do the lung quantity measurement they only estimate lung quantity from an individual’s peak, weight, gender and so forth. There you lose some accuracy.”

BSIP/UIG by way of Getty Pictures

Twin Power X Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)

How It Works

In a DEXA scan, you lie down and obtain a scan of your physique composition and bone mineral density. DEXA methods use a supply that generates x-rays at two energies to estimate bone mineral content material and mushy tissue composition.


In line with Capital Blue’s Medical Coverage, DEXA’s accuracy is as much as par with different types of analyzing physique composition. Additionally, with DEXA, you discover out precisely the place your fats is situated; it might probably truly inform you the quantity of stomach fats you’ve gotten.

“One of many advantages of DEXA is you may get the regional distribution,” says Dunbar. “You may see the place the fats is,” says Dunbar.


DEXA scans expose you to radiation, and though this 2006 American Journal of Medical Vitamin research calls the quantity you obtain in a single check “low,” radiation is radiation.

“I don’t know if DEXA for physique fats is moral given the radiation,” Dunbar says. Discovering a spot that provides DEXA scans for physique composition may take some digging. M&F reached out to New York College and Brooklyn Faculty, and each establishments don’t supply DEXA for physique composition.

Pores and skin Calipers

How It Works

Pores and skin calipers are essentially the most accessible methodology in figuring out physique fats proportion. A technician makes use of the system by pinching a layer of pores and skin to get any underlying fats. Websites which can be measured are: triceps, pectoral, stomach, supriliac, and thigh. There are two steps to figuring out physique fats proportion: physique density and utilizing physique density to estimate physique fats. The physique density equation was developed for every by Dr. Andrew Jackson and M. L. Pollock. As for the fats proportion equation was created by Siri (1961) and Brozek (1963).

As talked about earlier than, pores and skin calipers are simply accessible, making them an enormous professional. Registered dietitian-nutritionist, Katharine Wagner, recommends, “The person ought to intention for a mean of three readings, deciding on 3-7 websites on the physique for accuracy. A advantage of utilizing pores and skin calipers is that it provides you an even bigger image of the subcutaneous fats/visceral fats. An excessive amount of of this fats can result in metabolic syndrome.”


Pores and skin calipers require a whole lot of accuracy, and normally the technician has to undergo rigorous coaching to be certifiable to make use of one. As for the formulation don’t fluctuate with people, they continue to be fixed. This may result in false outcomes, including extra fats to a lean, ripped physique.

Physique Fats Scales

How It Works

Physique fats scales are additionally referred to as bioeletrical imedance scales, which is sort of just like a traditional scale. The one distinction is that there are electrodes below your ft or the place you locations your fingers on the hand-held system. A small electrical impulse will get despatched by means of the physique, and the speed of the impulses are measured. Lean tissues conducts electrical impulses faster than fats.


The scales are reasonably priced and most gyms have the hand-held system. Each units solely require you urgent a button, making it user-friendly. 


Accuracy is the most important down fall of this methodology as a result of readings may be impacted by hydration ranges, meal occasions, and exercises.


BMI and Waist-to-Hip Ratio

How It Works

Physique mass index is away of measuring physique fats that’s primarily based on peak and weight. It’s one of many oldest strategies within the books as a result of it’s a easy calculation. One other methodology is waist-to-hip ratio, which will get decided by means of a measuring tape. Utilizing the measuring tape, measure the circumference across the widest a part of your buttocks after which round your waist. When you get each measurements, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. 


Every methodology requires a easy calculation. Katharine Wagner says, “The waist-to-hip ratio provides a greater image of subcutaneous fats/visceral fats on an individual. It’s additionally simpler to make use of than pores and skin calipers.”


Accuracy is one other situation for the 2 strategies. Katherine says about BMI, “It doesn’t inform the distinction between muscle and fats. Therefore, muscle weighs greater than fats—giving an inaccurate measurement.”

What’s The Greatest?

Primarily based on the latest literature, it’s the Bod Pod and HW. It’s vital to think about extra than simply accuracy, however consistency. How usually can you actually get to a Bod Pod? Although calipers and physique fats proportion scales will not be as correct, they supply a solution to know in the event you’re gaining/shedding physique fats. On the finish of the day, that’s essentially the most essential data.

“So far as I perceive, the Bod Pod and HW are about as correct a way as you’re going to get,” Dunbar says. “It’s only a query of 1’s simpler to do.”

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