The new trend today is not to be skinny but to be fit. Fit people often have well developed muscles and have a low body fat percentage. The common recommendation on message board and social media sites are to not look at the scale as your goal but have a certain body fat percentage in mind. So how do you know what your body fat percentage is?
Body fat calipers can be bought for very little money. They are made of plastic and will measure the belly fat in millimeters. You would then take the measurement with your age and gender to find the body fat percentage on the chart that comes with the calipers. The downside is the calipers do need to be used at the same place each time you use it to be accurate.
Some scales have an option for body fat percentage and water weight. To get the measurement, you need to program your scale with your height, weight and gender. These scales are usually a little more expensive than the typical digital scale.
In this method, you use the method the Navy uses for body fat. You take the measurements of the neck, waist, hips, height, and hips. After getting the measurements, you put it in a calculator. The results is an estimation of body fat. There are some methods of measuring body fat that also takes your wrist, forearm, thigh and calf. This method is by far the most inaccurate version. You cannot possible measure body fat with way. It will give you a rough estimate and is a great starting point, but the result would be as much a ten percent wrong in either direction.
Water Submersion Test
Water submersion is considered the gold standard of measuring body fat. The downside is it is expensive about $150 USD. In this method, you sit in a bench like chair in a pool of water. You are then dunked in the water and told to exhale the air out of your lungs. The theory behind this method is that bones and body mass is denser in water, thus easier to get your true body fat percentage. This is the method they use on the hit NBC television reality show “Biggest Loser”. It is not practical for the average person however, would be beneficial for a bodybuilder or fitness model.
Bottom line is finding out what your goals are. If you are a mother trying to get healthier and just need a rough idea of what your body fat is then a calipers or measuring tape would be enough. However if you want to compete in a bodybuilding competition, you might need to do the water submersion test. Once you know your number, you are able to figure out what your goal body fat percentage is and work towards your goal at a slow, steady pace.