Measure body fat percentage (BFP)

In general, body fat percentage refers to the percentage of fat in comparison to the total weight. For instance, if someone has 10% of fat and his weight is 100 pounds. Then it necessarily means that the following person has 10 pounds of fat in his body. Rest 90 pounds of weight consist of bone, muscle, blood, organ tissue and everything else.

The percentage of essential body fat for women is greater than that for men, due to the demands of childbearing and other hormonal functions. The main reason of this is biological. Normally woman bears 18%-25% fat and men bears 10%-15%. The greater amount of fat in the body of woman is beneficial to them. The hormones of the body of woman convert the fat into food. That is why the woman need fewer calories than men per day do. The woman who eat pills for birth control reserves more fat than other woman does. So if you or your wife eat pills, please consume 10% calories to hold the same weight.

In different climate woman bears fat in different parts of their body. In Africa, the fat deposits on buttock, in Mediterranean countries, it remains on hip and in Asian countries, it is on naval area.

Reading this article you may think, body fat is very harmful for your body. You can plan to throw all the fat from your body. Please do not misunderstand, fat is also inevitable for your body. But the amount of fat must be at desired level. Fat is necessary for the proper functioning of the body. If fat is not at its desired level then it may result imbalance of hormone.   

Therefore, you have to try to keep the amount of fat at a certain level according to your age, sex, and exercise level. Do not be too negative towards body fat.

Measuring body fat percentage

Significant numbers of methods are available for determining body fat percentage. Some of the methods are very effective and scientific to measure body fat.

Here I am going describe about some well known methods, which is very popular among the people. You may go through my article to decide what would be appropriate for you.

1. Skinfold method

The skinfold estimation methods are based on a skinfold test, also known as a pinch test, whereby a pinch of skin is precisely measured by calipers at several standardized points on the body to determine the subcutaneous fat layer thickness.

These measurements are converted to an estimated body fat percentage by an equation. Some formulas require as few as three measurements, others as many as seven. The accuracy of these estimates is more dependent on a person's unique body fat distribution than on the number of sites measured. It is important to test in a precise location with a fixed pressure. Although it may not give an accurate reading of real body fat percentage, it is a reliable measure of body composition change over a period of time; provided the test is carried out by the same person with the same technique.

Skinfold-based body fat estimation is sensitive to the type of caliper used, and technique.

2. Ultrasound method

Ultrasound is used extensively to measure tissue structure and has proven to be an accurate technique to measure subcutaneous fat thickness.

There are two modes for conducting this complex method. These are –

  1. A-mode
  2. B-mode

These two modes ultrasound systems are now used and both rely on using tabulated values of tissue sound speed and automated signal analysis to determine fat thickness. By making thickness measurements at multiple sites on the body you can calculate the estimated body fat percentage.

Ultrasound techniques can also be used to directly measure muscle thickness and quantify intramuscular fat. Ultrasound equipment is expensive, and not cost-effective solely for body fat measurement. But this equipment is available in hospital. The extra cost for the capability to measure body fat is minimal.

3. Bioelectrical impedance analysis

The bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) method is a lower in cost but less accurate way to estimate body fat percentage. The general principle behind BIA is like following way, two or more conductors are attached to a person's body and a small electric current is sent through the body. The resistance between the conductors will provide a measure of body fat between a pair of electrodes, since the resistance to electricity varies between adipose, muscular and skeletal tissue. Fat-free mass (muscle) is a good conductor as it contains a large amount of water (approximately 73%) and electrolytes, while fat is anhydrous and a poor conductor of electric current.

Factors that affect the accuracy and precision of this method include instrumentation, subject factors, technician skill and the prediction equation formulated to estimate the fat-free mass.

4. Hydrostatic weighing method

Hydrostatic Weighing method is the most accurate one to measure body fat percentage. But to accomplish the process, here you will need a Hydrostatic weighing pond. Fitness centers, gymnasium or University sports facility can have a weighing tank like this. Here using the Archimedes principle amount of body fat is calculated. You will have to sit on a chair in the Hydrostatic weighing pond, the water you displaced will be measured and then using the Archimedes principle body fat will be calculated.

Though it is a very reliable method to calculate the body fat percentage, Hydrostatic weighing pond is not easy to get, so you may not always get the chance to use this method.

5. Whole-body air displacement plethysmography

Whole-body air displacement plethysmography (ADP) is a recognized and scientifically validated densitometry method to measure human body fat percentage.ADP uses the same principles as the gold standard method of underwater weighing, but representing a densitometry method that is based on air displacement rather than on water immersion.

Air-displacement plethysmography offers several advantages over established reference methods, including a quick, comfortable, automated, noninvasive, and safe measurement process. However, its accuracy declines at the extremes of body fat percentages, tending slightly understate the percent body fat in overweight and obese.

Last update: October 04, 2016 03:59:48 pm

 
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