Many health experts agree that the Body Mass Index (BMI) is an inaccurate way to measure if a person has weight problems. Although the BMI has been used for more than a century, it doesn’t measure, nor give credit to how much body fat a person has.
Back in the 19th century when the BMI was developed, majority of the population had little interest in building muscle mass. Hence, the benchmark for judging if a person is underweight or overweight is simply based on the ratio of height and weight, without giving much thought on how much muscle mass a person has as related to his/her height and weight. The BMI was used as yardstick to tell if a person has weight problems. As research and science for health progressed over the years, we have come to the realization that measuring body fat offers a more relevant way to monitor dietary and fitness plans.
Should you measure your body fat?
Measuring your body fat is important especially if you want to track your progress with your fitness plan. Tracking your weight as a yardstick for your progress simply wouldn’t give you an idea of how much fat you actually lost. People who exercise are likely to build muscle mass while losing fat, therefore the change in weight would appear minimal.
How do you measure body fat?
The prevailing method to measure body fat is through the use of a caliper. Fitness centers usually measure their customers’ body fat by using a caliper so their customers can track their progress by measuring how much body fat is lost while working out. Fat is typically stored in flabby areas of your body, like the stomach, arms, chest, and thighs. Men are measured differently than women. Men are measured by pinching the skin and measuring the thickness of the fold. The measurement of the fold, combined with your age would give you a reading of how much body fat you have. See this chart (link: http://www.accumeasurefitness.com/charts.html) to get the amount of body fat you have. Measuring using calipers is one of the easiest ways to measure body fat. As convenient it may be, using calipers to measure body fat is not 100% accurate.
A more accurate way to measure your body fat is through the use of a Bioelectric Impedance Analysis device that sends electrical signals through your body to measure fat levels in comparison to muscle mass. The theory is that fat blocks the electrical signals, and the device measures the rate that electrical signals pass through.
If you work out at a gym, or fitness center, ask the front desk for a Tanita Scale. The Tanita Scale factors everything from your weight down to your water levels to ensure an accurate reading of your body fat.
Whether you measure your body fat to measure your progress, or you simply want to know how much fat you need to lose, at the end of the day every effort you pour into getting fit would take you a step closer to your goal.