How To Calculate Body Fat Loss Percentage

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How To Calculate Body Fat Loss Percentage – Ask any person at the gym what their fitness goals are and you’re guaranteed to hear something along the lines of “I want to shed some extra body fat and build some muscle.” When they say that, they are telling you that they want to improve their body composition.

But what exactly is body composition? How do you measure it? Is the body fat percentage the same? Well, not necessarily. There are some major differences between body fat percentage and body composition. This article explains in detail what they are and how to calculate body fat and accurately measure body composition.

How To Calculate Body Fat Loss Percentage

How To Calculate Body Fat Loss Percentage

Body composition, not to be confused with “body fat percentage”, is a somewhat misleading term as it can technically refer to the overall basic makeup of the human body or simply the proportions of fat-free mass and fat mass. That is, at the macroscopic level, we consist primarily of adipose tissue (body fat) and lean body mass (muscle, bone, and water).

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Simply put, body composition is defined (in the context of physical fitness) as the proportion of muscle, bone, fat and water in a person’s body. Therefore, body composition and body fat are close relatives in determining leanness.

When someone says their goal is to improve body composition, they mean they want to increase their lean body mass (eg skeletal muscle) and decrease their body fat.

Although it may seem contradictory, body fat percentage and body composition are not necessarily the same measures. The amount of fat tissue (adipose) you carry is a factor in body composition, but body fat percentage doesn’t tell you as much about your lean body mass/fat-free mass ratio as your body composition test.

Body fat calculators mainly tell you what percentage of your body is adipose tissue, from which you can derive your fat-free mass (FFM) based on your body weight. Essentially, body fat percentage tells you the proportions of fat-free mass and fat mass throughout your body; This is a simplified two-compartment body composition model.

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In contrast, a functional (multi-compartment) body composition test measures the amount of water, bone tissue, muscle tissue, and fat tissue in your body. Some body composition analyzes go down to the atomic level to detail the carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, electrolytes and other elements in your body.

There are many ways to calculate body fat and assess body composition, including bioelectrical impedance or even a simple skin caliper pinch.

Although the above methods are generally easier to implement and more accessible to the general public, they are unreliable/inaccurate and less detailed about anatomy (R).

How To Calculate Body Fat Loss Percentage

To accurately measure body composition and measure body fat percentage, your best bet is to have a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan (R). A DEXA scan is the “gold standard” for examining body composition — it uses two laser beams of different energies to measure the amount of radiation absorbed by bone tissue.

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DEXA scans are highly accurate, but not as readily available (or cost-effective) as less-sophisticated methods. DEXA scans typically cost between $150-$300, but can vary based on your medical and insurance coverage and why you’re having the procedure.

Some physicians may also use a CT scan or MRI to assess body composition, but these are cost-prohibitive and usually not something you can do voluntarily unless your doctor deems it an urgent medical necessity.

After a DEXA scan, your next-best bet is air displacement plethysmography (ADP) to check body composition using a contraption known as a BOD POD. Some commercial gyms will have a BOD POD that you can use to measure your fat-free mass and fat mass, but it’s not as detailed as a Dexa scan. The advantage of the BOD POD is that it is more accessible and less expensive than a DEXA scan.

Single-frequency bioelectrical impedance is a modern “home” method of measuring body composition commonly used in bathroom scales and handheld devices that calculate body fat. Although convenient, single-frequency bioelectrical impedance is not as reliable or accurate as a BOD POD, DEXA scan, or hydrostatic weighing (meaning it can tell you you’re much leaner than you really are) (R).

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Hydrostatic weighing is accurate, although a bit more involved and expensive, as you have to lower it into a tank of water. Still, it’s an accurate way to measure body fat percentage.

It is generally advised that most individuals, especially those who are avid gym goers and athletes, have some idea of ​​their body composition and body fat percentage.

If you don’t have immediate access to a BOD POD or DEXA scan, you can calculate your body fat at home using skin calipers. This is a simple method that involves simple pinches of skin in certain areas of the body to give you a general idea of ​​how much fat tissue is carried. The more flab you can pinch, the more body fat you can hold onto.

How To Calculate Body Fat Loss Percentage

You can then enter the skin-fold measurement and your weight into a body fat calculator to calculate your body fat percentage.

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Depending on the type of body composition test you undergo, the results can be very specific or very basic. For fitness purposes, body composition testing is one of the most useful ways to track muscle building and fat loss progress.

The catch is that not all body composition testing methods are reliable (the same can be said for body fat calculators). In general, a DEXA scan or BOD POD are the best ways to accurately assess your body composition and measure your body fat percentage.

Here’s the confusing thing: Most people focus solely on their body weight as a measure of “progress.” Sure, weighing yourself provides a quantitative metric for weight loss and weight gain, but it doesn’t tell you much about body composition or your body fat percentage.

Body weight itself is not an adequate measure of progress. There are some situations where one’s fitness goal should be to simply gain or lose weight in order to see a quantitative change on the bathroom scale.

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Therefore, body mass index (BMI) is an inaccurate assessment of health and body composition. In fact, BMI tells you very little about your body fat and lean body mass. People who are very muscular can technically be classified as “obese” according to BMI standards because it uses your weight, height, age, and biological sex to determine whether you’re in a healthy weight range.

In other words, the BMI calculator does not factor in your body composition. As such, body composition and body fat percentage are good measures of progress toward fitness goals.

Remember: Quality matters when it comes to being lean. It doesn’t matter how heavy you are — if you’re carrying 30% of that weight as body fat, you won’t see much of the muscle you’ve packed on over the years.

How To Calculate Body Fat Loss Percentage

By the same token, there are plenty of bodybuilders and athletes who only weigh 170 pounds at 5’10” (or taller), yet look very muscular because of how lean they are. As they say, it’s all about creating an illusion. Body Fat Percentage There are many ways to measure, however, the most accurate measurements are not available at home.

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Specifically, it tells you the fat percentage of your total body weight. The lower your body fat percentage, the higher the percentage of lean muscle mass on your frame.

Skinfold calipers measure the thickness of your subcutaneous fat — subcutaneous fat — at specific locations on the body.

Measurements are taken at 3 or 7 different sites on the body. The specific sites used differ between men and women.

For women, the triceps, the top of the hip bone, and either the thigh or abdomen are used for 3-site measurements (2).

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For the 7-site measurement in women, the chest, the area near the armpits, and the area below the shoulder blades are also measured.

For men, the 3 sites are the chest, abdomen, and thighs, or chest, triceps, and the area below the scapula (2).

For the 7-site measurement in men, areas near the armpit and below the shoulder blades are also measured.

How To Calculate Body Fat Loss Percentage

Summary Estimating body fat percentage with skinfold calipers is affordable and relatively easy once you know how to do it. However, accuracy depends on the skill of the person doing the assessment.

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Body shape varies from person to person, and your body shape provides information about your body fat (

For example, the US Army uses a body fat calculation that requires a person’s age, height, and some girth measurements.

For men, neck and waist circumference are used in this equation. For women, hip circumference is also included (5).

Summary Using body circumference to estimate body fat is quick and easy. However, the accuracy of this method can vary widely and is not considered an ideal method for measuring body fat percentage.

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As the name suggests, DXA uses two different energy x-rays to estimate your body fat percentage (

During a DXA scan, you lie on your back for about 10 minutes while the X-ray scans over you.

The amount of radiation from a DXA scan is very low. That’s about it

How To Calculate Body Fat Loss Percentage

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