The subject “body fat testing” is an incredibly tricky subject. This is because a lot of people find it hard to calculate, track and estimate their correct body fat percentage. Yes, you might have been struggling with your weight as a sports person. Maybe to burn some fat and get into shape; I really understand how frustrating it can be. Hence, I will provide some amazing facts about body fat testing.
What is Body fat?
In simple words, your body fat means the amount of fat contained in your body, compared to everything else including your organs, bones, muscles, tendons, water, and so on.
The body fat percentage varies from one person to another because we are all different. So, a super ripped female bodybuilder who is trying to minimize body fat may only get as low as 8-9%, while a super ripped male bodybuilder could have a percentage down as low as 3-4%.
As a male athlete, you could be in fantastic shape and have just 11% body fat, but a woman at a comparable level of athleticism might have up to 18-20% body fat.
Body fast testing
There are different methods that you can use to test for your body fat. In fact, a quick Google search will reveal dozens of methods to measure body composition. However, these body fat testing methods come with fluctuation in accuracy. So, while one method may nail down your percent body fat percent to within a few decimals, the other might leave a wide range of error.
To help you navigate the numerous the various techniques, here are the best body fat testing methods:
This is a body fat testing method that you can easily access. The technician measure your body fat by pinching your skin (at three, four, or seven parts of your body) and using a skin caliper device to measure the thickness of each folded skin site. The number derived is plugged into a formula and your body composition is estimated.
Bioelectric impedance works by using simple or complex scales to send tiny electric impulses through your body and measuring how fast those impulses return. The principle is based on the fact that leaner tissues conduct electricity faster than fatty tissues. So if you have a leaner physique, there would be a faster response time in the electrical impulse.
This method is commonly called underwater weighing. It compares your original bodyweight (outside the water) to your new bodyweight while you’re completely submerged. So operators use these numbers and the density of the water to estimate your body composition.
DEXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry)
This body fat testing method uses the DEXA scan to measure your bone mineral density together with body composition. You’ll have to lie flat on a test table while the machine’s arm passes over your entire body. So the technician gets reading for your bone mineral density, fat mass and lean body mass by measuring the absorption of the X-ray beams in your body. This way, you can easily confirm your suspicions about your body composition.
Why you should be cautious of body fat testing
First, you need to know that there is nobody fat test that can tell you exactly how much fat and muscle you have. The only accurate way to measure your body fat is to strip out all of it and place on a scale to weigh. But apparently, you have to be dead for that to happen. That’s just the downside of it.
So just like weather reporter make a forecast without measuring the weather, so is body fat testing. It is more of a prediction than measurement. But you cannot predict your body fat levels with 100 percent accuracy.
For example, the body fat scales, which are one of the most popular ways to track fat loss, miss out large segments of your body. This technique runs a light electric current through your body to measure the degree of impedance to the flow of current. But, the current simply go up one leg and down the other. This invariably means you are measure just how fat your legs are.
Hence, you cannot rely on body fat testing to track changes in your body composition over time? Yes. In fact, the results can send you in the wrong direction, especially when use it to guide your training and diet decisions. Consequently, you’d often come away with an impression that your training or nutrition program isn’t working. So you run the risk of ditching it for a less effective program or routine.