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Various Methods Used to Calculate Body Fat
For the longest time, we used to rely on a chart that was based on statistics from insurance companies. These are usually referred to as Height-Weight Tables. We have all used them and you will still see these around today. The problem is that few of them take into consideration your body frame and none of them calculate your body fat. However, now there are newer and more accurate ways to find your healthy weight range.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a guideline that is used to determine if you are at risk for health-related issues associated with your weight. These include heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The formula to calculate your BMI is as follows: BMI= Body Mass in kilograms / (height x height in meters). More and more people are urged to find out what their BMI is rather than just depending on the weighing scale.
Here are the BMI ranges:
* 18 and below is considered underweight. This may be attributed to smoking habits or poor nutrition. If you become severely underweight you may stop having your monthly period and could become infertile.
* 19 to 24 are considered a healthy range. Generally, if you fall into this category there is a low risk of developing health related issues.
* 25 to 29 are considered the overweight range. If you are in this range you run a moderate risk of developing health related issues.
* 30 and over is considered to be obese. People in this range have a high risk to developing health related issues.
Keep in mind that BMI is only part of the equation. Other things to consider are family history, occupation and a wide variety of other health risk factors. Also, BMI doesn’t calculate body fat and muscle. Athletes such as bodybuilders, football and hockey players and anyone else using a weight training program would not find BMI helpful. Also, important to note that children, elderly and sedentary adults should not use BMI as a way to calculate body fat.
Girth Measurements are a way of calculating body fat using a tape measure, equations and tables. Not one of your easiest and most reliable methods. The accuracy of calculating body fat using this technique can be out by up to 4% so if you calculate your body fat at 20% the actual range would be 16 – 24%. This method should not be used by people who are excessively over/under weight or athletes that train with weights.
Skin fold Measurements are a reliable technique that use calipers to pinch folds skins at three points of your body and then using various equations, calculates your body fat percentage. This is an easy method to use and is very accurate and reliable when done by experienced examiner. The costs are relatively inexpensive and there are even some calipers that allow you to test yourself.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) is the technology you use when calculating your body fat with a “body fat scale”. A low-level current is passed through your body and measures the opposition to the flow of the current. When used properly, this method is as accurate and reliable as skin fold calipers. Keep in mind that the amount of water in your body, your skin temperature and recent physical activity will affect the results. You are also dependent on the equations that the manufactures built into the scale, which might not be the most appropriate one for you.
Hydrostatic Weighing is the most accurate of all the techniques we have listed here. It is also referred to as underwater weighing. The examiner measures how much water is displaced when you enter the hydrostatic weighing tank, sometimes called a Bod Pod, and then uses an equation to calculate body fat based on your body’s density. This method can be difficult to find, very time consuming and quite expensive but is the most accurate of all the methods.
As we have discussed above, there are many different methods one could use to calculate body fat. If you want to lose weight, always consult a physician to find the right method for you.
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