1

votes

Do you know your body fat % and how did you calculate?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 20, 2011 at 3:02 PM

We've had a few body fat conversations going on and I know there are quite a few ways to determine a body fat %.

Mine is in the 22-24% range right now. This has been calculated on several different electrical impedance devices and then confirmed with calipers. I know neither is exact, but I figure if I keep get answers in the same range, it's probably pretty close.

I would love to do the water dunking method, but I don't even know how to find a place that does it.

Do you know yours? How did you calculate it?

2af8894f239a2620a79d310e6fde3e20

on January 21, 2011
at 09:41 AM

I just had the Bod pod done. and I've done the electrical one. The electrical vs Bod pod were different by a couple percents. I would have to assume the bod pod is closer to accurate.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on January 21, 2011
at 04:04 AM

Agreed that's why I use impedance for relative improvement and mirror for determining when I'm happy

Bbd50c115fa066bea3ac23a4e82447ff

(558)

on January 21, 2011
at 03:33 AM

I'm wary of a DEXA scan (unless someone needs it for analyzing bone density) because of the radiation. I don't want to expose myself to any non-necessary radiation just to find out what I can tell by looking in the mirror (whether I'm over fat or not). I'm also not entirely sure what benefit knowing a body fat number is...how will it help us? Will we change our actions in any way as a result? Just curious.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on January 20, 2011
at 06:36 PM

I have never seen that post about test accuracy on MDA before, thank you for posting that link, Pieter.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 05:33 PM

Thanks James! I had never heard of them and there is actually one fairly close to me.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on January 20, 2011
at 05:28 PM

never got the bottom two abs...frustrating. I used to have the top four no worries but those bottom two:) starting to sound like a beachgymrat goofball with all the ab-talk but now that i find it relatively easy to maintain really good health and body comp (simply by eating paleo and lifting heavy stuff) Im thinking it'd be cool to get those last two.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 04:59 PM

Very cool, Kent!

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 04:59 PM

Thanks for the link Pieter. I appreciate where this is coming from, I am honestly not changing anything in order to obtain a perfect level of anything. What I know is that I am extremely happy now and I like to know the number, so I know what is optimal for me based on the devices I have to calculate it.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on January 20, 2011
at 04:34 PM

Since I'm a web developer, I just created a web page for myself that I enter the measurements into and it does all the calculations for me :) (It also calculates a bunch of other stuff I'm mildly interested in, max HR, heart rate 'zones', basal metabolic rate, caloric expenditure based on activity level, BMI, etc). Yes I'm aware of the issues with some of these numbers, but I like to crunch them nonetheless :)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:55 PM

Damn, Kent. That's a lot of math! I haven't done measurements in a bit, I'm going to have to try these though.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:54 PM

I know what you mean, I just like numbers. Also, now that I know I just want to maintain where I'm at, it's helpful to have a reference point.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:48 PM

impedence for determining progress, then mirror assumption now that I can see my abs. really dont care what the real # is.. im happy healthy and feel great!

8632c87a833f1d30f5fa8d4768d10c45

(575)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:43 PM

I find that I can vary 2-3% on any given day when measured on an electrical impedance scale. So I let my mirror be my guide :)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:38 PM

Thanks Stephen! How did you measure yours? I will have to do measurements and check out the Navy Circumference Method too. The more numbers I get close to the same readings, the more comfortable I am citing them.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:37 PM

My gym has an electrical impedance scale and so does my doctor's office. My trainer did the caliper measurements with professional calipers and he is trained to use them. The fact that the numbers came out very similar seemed good to me. I know it can still be off though. I figure if I am using the same devices each time, the change in % has to be somewhat close, so when it drops and stays at that number for awhile I consider than a countable loss.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:17 PM

where did you get the electrical impedance device measurement? And where did you get the caliper measurement? I've always been curious about my percentage but I was under the impression that short of that water dunking method you mention there was no accurate method. Cheers

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4 Answers

2
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 20, 2011
at 04:47 PM

No. And for the second question: Not.

By the way, read this post from Mark Sisson. Be careful with the interpretation...

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 04:59 PM

Thanks for the link Pieter. I appreciate where this is coming from, I am honestly not changing anything in order to obtain a perfect level of anything. What I know is that I am extremely happy now and I like to know the number, so I know what is optimal for me based on the devices I have to calculate it.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on January 20, 2011
at 06:36 PM

I have never seen that post about test accuracy on MDA before, thank you for posting that link, Pieter.

2
07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:52 PM

I use skinfold calipers and apply a couple of different formulas, and take the average.

Skinfold measurement sites: Bicep, Tricep, Scapula, Waist.

Formulas (that I found somewhere on the internet):

(1.378 * waist - 0.0174 * waist2 + .213 * age - 5.84)

10.32 * log( bicep + tricep + scapula + waist ) + .0657 * log( bicep + tricep + scapula + waist ) * age - 27.03

The waist-only formula reads higher than the other for me, due to the extra fat I have where I take the measurement - and I'm otherwise getting fairly lean.

I take at least 3 measurements per skinfold site and take the average for each site.

So, I'm sure I don't have a 100% accurate reading, but it's close, and repeatable, and lets me recognize trends.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on January 20, 2011
at 04:34 PM

Since I'm a web developer, I just created a web page for myself that I enter the measurements into and it does all the calculations for me :) (It also calculates a bunch of other stuff I'm mildly interested in, max HR, heart rate 'zones', basal metabolic rate, caloric expenditure based on activity level, BMI, etc). Yes I'm aware of the issues with some of these numbers, but I like to crunch them nonetheless :)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 04:59 PM

Very cool, Kent!

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:55 PM

Damn, Kent. That's a lot of math! I haven't done measurements in a bit, I'm going to have to try these though.

2
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on January 20, 2011
at 03:32 PM

  • Skinfold Calipers, Someone has to know what they are doing, and then its still making assumptions based on where you are taking measurements and body deposition.

  • Bioelectric Impedence - Grossly innacurate based on hydration levels. Best used at the same time everyday, such as upon waking. Really only good for determining progress.

  • Navy Circumference Method, an educated guess based on measurements. http://zone.cust.he.net/prothd2.html

  • Hydrostatic Weighing, blow out all your air and weighs you underwater. only accurate if you get rid of ALL of your air. Under $50 at most universities.

  • DEXA - a whole body scanner and two different low-dose x-rays to read bone mass and soft tissue mass. 2% margin of error(most accurate we know of) usually about $250. Can also tell you where its deposited, if you want to know visceral vs subcutaneous etc.

  • Mirror. Cheapest Option, available nearly everywhere. For most men, lower abs become visible around 10%.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:54 PM

I know what you mean, I just like numbers. Also, now that I know I just want to maintain where I'm at, it's helpful to have a reference point.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on January 20, 2011
at 05:28 PM

never got the bottom two abs...frustrating. I used to have the top four no worries but those bottom two:) starting to sound like a beachgymrat goofball with all the ab-talk but now that i find it relatively easy to maintain really good health and body comp (simply by eating paleo and lifting heavy stuff) Im thinking it'd be cool to get those last two.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:48 PM

impedence for determining progress, then mirror assumption now that I can see my abs. really dont care what the real # is.. im happy healthy and feel great!

Bbd50c115fa066bea3ac23a4e82447ff

(558)

on January 21, 2011
at 03:33 AM

I'm wary of a DEXA scan (unless someone needs it for analyzing bone density) because of the radiation. I don't want to expose myself to any non-necessary radiation just to find out what I can tell by looking in the mirror (whether I'm over fat or not). I'm also not entirely sure what benefit knowing a body fat number is...how will it help us? Will we change our actions in any way as a result? Just curious.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 03:38 PM

Thanks Stephen! How did you measure yours? I will have to do measurements and check out the Navy Circumference Method too. The more numbers I get close to the same readings, the more comfortable I am citing them.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on January 21, 2011
at 04:04 AM

Agreed that's why I use impedance for relative improvement and mirror for determining when I'm happy

1
4ebe345400fa2663483d40b0d4c25663

(211)

on January 20, 2011
at 05:28 PM

I was curious about my 'true' BF %, so I followed Tim Ferriss' suggestion and went for a Bod Pod test. You can find these in most big cities, but I found mine at a local college campus. Costs between $30-$40. Little pricey, but I wanted a true measurment and this is about as close as it gets without spending big $. I tested at 16.2%. I then went home and got on my scale that has BF% and was 14.6%. So pretty close. If you do the Bod Pod a couple times a yr or once a quarter that should give you very accurate results over time.

Hope this helps.

2af8894f239a2620a79d310e6fde3e20

on January 21, 2011
at 09:41 AM

I just had the Bod pod done. and I've done the electrical one. The electrical vs Bod pod were different by a couple percents. I would have to assume the bod pod is closer to accurate.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 05:33 PM

Thanks James! I had never heard of them and there is actually one fairly close to me.

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