To make sure you’re losing body fat you have to understand the difference between body weight and body fat.
What is Body Fat Percentage?
Body fat percentage measures what percentage of your body weight is composed of fat. So,
Body Fat Percentage = Body Fat / Body Weight (remember body weight is fat + non-fat)
Example: If I weigh 130 lb and my body fat percentage is 10, that means I have 13 lb of fat on my body.
Our bodies need a certain amount of fat to function optimally (essential body fat) and everything else is fat you can do without. Essential body fat is approximately 2-5% for men and 10-13% for women. Based on this, in the example above, I would have 6.5 lb of excess fat on my body. Keep in mind, a little bit of excess fat is not bad at all and you don’t have to lose fat until you reach the essential fat levels. Here’s a chart that shows age-adjusted healthy body fat percentage levels.
Different Ways To Calculate Body Fat Percentage
There are many ways to calculate body fat percentage. Some of the most accurate methods such as DXA Scan, Bioelectrical Impedance, and Hydrostatic (Underwater) Weighing are expensive and require a trip to a medical facility. Below is a comparison of body fat measurement methods:
Measure Body Fat Percentage Using Skin Fold Calipers
The least expensive and most widely available method of calculating body fat percentage is the skinfold caliper test. In this method, you pinch the skin and fat under the skin (but not the muscle) in several locations on your body and measure the pinch using a skinfold caliper (not an affiliate link) which you can get from Amazon for $5.99. You will have to take the measurements (in mm) from 7 different locations and put the numbers into a body fat percentage calculator to get your body fat percentage using this method. You will not be able to reach some of the measurement locations yourself and will need someone else to help you.
Here are the locations for the 7-site skin fold body fat measurement test.
Chest skin fold measurement location
Midaxillary skin fold measurement location
Suprailiac skin fold measurement location
Abdomen skin fold measurement location
Tricep skin fold measurement location
Subscapular skin fold measurement location
Thigh skin fold measurement location