Learning how to measure body fat at home is important to keep tabs of your diet and fitness program progress. There are many ways in which you can measure your body fat. It has evolved from the traditional calipers to modern, digitized, scales.
Some professionals recommend multiple measuring readings to get a more accurate perspective of the fat levels in your body.
Measure Body Fat Using Calipers
Calipers have been traditionally used to determine fat levels. But even with the best calipers and the most experienced user, the results may still vary greatly.
This is not something professional athletes can rely on a single measuring. They would need multiple measuring in a controlled environment.
For a measuring to work it has to be performed in similar conditions. For example, if you use calipers you can measure yourself first thing in the morning before breakfast.
Only after a few days, you can estimate the correct level.
Many athletes find that focusing on the number is not really benefiting them in any way. It is how this number fluctuates what really matters.
If you are looking for your body fat levels you might be motivated by losing or gaining weight. This is where measuring is really important.
It can tell you the direction in which your body is going but also the speed at which this is happening.
If you want to lose weight you will find that you need, on average, to be decreasing the caloric intake, especially with food which is not the healthiest.
Body fat scales
With calipers, you will need to use similar points on the body to make the readings. You will also need a helper that might set the calipers into the right position without too much variation.
This is where body fat scales come into place. Some options can be available at a decent price and the good news is that they can offer a wide range of data which can help you improve your health.
Top features of body fat scales:
Body fat scales use a low-intensity current that travels through your body to make a reading on the body fat level or muscle percentage.
Here are the top features which make these scales the best options for measuring body fat:
Bioelectrical impedance – this technology was previously available to licensed practitioners. It is now used in body fat scales which use the low-intensity current to make reading on the body fat levels in just a few seconds.
Accurate readings on body indicators – modern scales can offer readings on BMI, muscle and bone mass.
They can also show the water retention levels by pointing out the affected areas in the body. Some high-end models can also work to show you the heart rate.
Many of these features can be used in the prevention of certain conditions. For example, the heart rate reading can do little in real terms.
But if you monitor the indicator after changes into your diet or workout session you could get a clearer perspective on how your cardiovascular system reacts to new stimuli.
App integration – most body fat scales can connect to your smartphone via WiFi. This comes with integrated apps that can be your personal coach.
You can monitor your fat loss efforts and even see how your body`s composition is changing.
Multi-user support – if with calipers you need help from your friends to make correct readings, with a body fat scale you have multiple profiles that can save data for your friends.
The technology allows the scale to recognize each user as soon as they step on. This is done through the comparison of the previous measuring.
A good scale can offer up to 8 user profiles.
Automatic synchronization – there is no need to write down data with the old pen and paper. You can now just step on the scale and wait for the results.
They will be automatically synchronized with the app which means you save time with every measuring. For most people, time-saving is not a priority while measuring body fat.
But if you have clear, short-term, objectives, data synchronization can save you time.
You can even save the readings and send them to your nutritionist for the latest updates on your body fat composition.
Data synchronization might also work when you are on a strict diet recommended by your doctor.
Some high-end models which have high accuracy are approved medical tools that work with professional-level accuracy and can be thus used to interpret vital data.
Body fat measuring alternatives
If you don’t want to use calipers and don’t want to spend the money on a body fat scale you can try old-school techniques such as counting calories and fat levels from your foods.
This is still used, at least with professional athletes. It will not give you an accurate reading on your body fat levels but it will indicate what you can expect on a weekly basis in terms of caloric intake.
This can be compared to your daily caloric needs to determine if you will be in a caloric surplus.
The caloric surplus needs to come with a good exercise routine, otherwise, it might be transformed into fat.
This traditional approach to weight increase calculations is still one of the best options to learn about the caloric value of foods we eat during the day.
Measuring body fat can be a tricky experience. None of the options are 100% reliable.
This is why so many professionals use a combination of methods and multiple readings to get accurate results.
You can try making an appointment with your doctor for a classic caliper measuring or a scale measuring.
Some other options include hand-held devices that use bioelectrical impedance technology but they aren`t very accurate.
The best approach is to follow a measuring plan with weekly readings. If you choose the caliper route you need to write down your results.
If you choose the scale route you need to make sure the readings are synchronized with your smartphone so you can track your progress over time.
Photo credit: skamille via Visualhunt / CC BY
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