People have now begun to understand that in order to become healthier you will have to develop a leaner body, which is why many people are now looking for effective ways of measuring body fat so that they can keep track of their fitness gains. Now, when you hear the term body fat, you are likely to think about it in a negative way. However, not all fats in your body are bad for you. In fact, some types of fat are actually critical to your health, provided that they are available in your body in just the right amounts, of course. Fats not only help you preserve body heat, but they also help protect some of your organs from trauma.
You begin to have problems only when your body stores too much fat. Remember that too much of anything is bad for you, and too much fat can translate into a host of health issues, which may include hypertension, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance, among others. Perhaps the most dangerous stores of fat are the ones at your waist. This is why in your efforts to lead a healthier life, it is important to measure not just your weight, but your body composition as well. And body composition measurement necessarily involves the measurement of body fat percentages.
There are several ways by which body fat percentages can be measured, and hydrostatic weighing also known as underwater weighing is just one of them. This method measures the density of your whole body by determining its volume. There are several different types of equipment being used for this method ranging from a contraption consisting of a chair and a scale hanging over either a pool or a hot tub to a stainless steel tank containing a chair that is mounted on a set of underwater scales. In using this technique, you will first be weighed outside the tank, immersed completely in water, and then weighed again. The volume and density of your body are then calculated, and the percentage of your body fat is determined from these figures.
Another method for measuring body fat is with the use of callipers. This device is used to measure skinfold thickness at various locations in your body. These measurements are then summed up and body fat percentage calculated based on this sum. The measurements are taken by grasping your skin, being careful not to include any muscle, and then pinching the area with the caliper jaws. It is often a good idea to get duplicate readings of the same area and then averaging the results for better accuracy. This is among the easiest to perform and least expensive methods of body fat measurement.
BI, or bioelectrical impedance, is still another method by which you can measure body fat percentage. This method uses electrical signals to measure your body composition. The signals travel through your body and pass through all of its components, muscles, fats, water, and bone. The levels of conductivity or impedance of each component is already known, which is how the percentage of your body fat is determined through this method. There are now modern versions of the bathroom scale that use the BI technology and are therefore able to provide you with more information aside from your weight. These devices indicate your resting metabolism, visceral fat, and bone density, among other things.
Still another method for measuring the percentage of your body fat is called DEXA. This is a recent technology that is known for its accuracy and precision. It divides your body into three compartments, namely: lean mass, mineral, and fat tissues. The technique makes use of a full-body scanner with X-rays that read both your bone and lean mass simultaneously. The scan lasts for about 10-20 minutes and is completely safe and non-invasive. The only requirement is for you to lie still all throughout the procedure. Perhaps the only drawback to this method is its relatively high cost.
There are several other ways by which you can get measurements of your body compositions. And the method that you choose will depend largely on your individual preferences and needs. It may be a good idea for you to ask those who have tried any of the available methods for feedback as regards accuracy of measurements and the usefulness of the method in their fitness and health efforts. You could also talk to your doctor or nutritionist, or browse online forums to gather feedback for the different methods so you can decide which method of measuring body fat will work best for you.
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