Calculating our percentage of body fat can help us know our general health. We cannot forget that, in excess, it can be harmful to our organism. It is important to know that there is a difference between the kilos we weigh and a number of lipids we store. That is why calculating body fat can be useful if we take a diet or an exercise routine. Find out more below.
What to Know About Body Fat
Basically, it’s about the amount of fat we have in the body. It is worth noting that men do not have the same percentage of women (in them is higher).
- To be healthy male should be around 10% fat and female 20%.
- The minimum fat in men ranges between 2 and 4% and in women between 10 and 12%.
- If the values are higher than 26% in them and 32% of them indicate obesity or overweight.
Knowing our percentage helps us a lot because in this way we know approximately how we are in health and how we can act to reverse the situation.
It is vital to remember that we all need fat in our body since one of its functions is to protect the internal organs.
It is also responsible for storing energy and use it when the body does not receive food.
Since there is no device that tells us with certainty the percentage of body fat, we can use certain visual references.
- In the case of men, the focus should be placed on the chest, upper abdominals, and quadriceps.
- In women, it can be seen on the face, glutes, breasts, and hips.
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How we can calculate our body fat
There are several techniques that allow us to know in an approximate way what our percentage of body fat is:
While it is not a very scientific method, we need nothing more than our objectivity.
- Maybe we can try our clothes or take pictures with the same clothes to see the changes in our body.
- Another interesting option is to compare our images of the past or other people (who have a healthy amount of body fat ).
Body Mass Index
The IMC is very interesting to identify obesity and also to know if you are more likely to suffer an illness related to being overweight (heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, etc.).
In order to calculate it, you must divide your weight in kilograms between your heights in meters. The normal value ranges from 18.5 to 24.9.
- If the result is more than 30 it represents a risk to your health.
It is a clamp-like apparatus that is used to measure the amount of fat in specific areas.
Although it is an element that doctors use, we can also get it in some specialized stores.
Calibrators are affordable and the measurement is fairly approximate so maybe we should have one at home.
In most homes, there are these tapes that are used for sewing. You can use it to measure the waist (the area that accumulates the most fat in both men and women).
- To do this, stand alone with underwear and place the tape measure below the navel and above the bones of the hips. Do not squeeze soft tissue.
- If the measurement is greater than 90 cm in the woman and 100 cm in the man it means that there is more risk of suffering diseases.
They need different measures: neck, waist, and hips, as well as height and weight.
It is not a 100% true result but, at least, it can give us an idea of what our body fat is.
The problem with these calculators (found on different websites) is that it does not take into account other factors such as muscle mass or the measurement of the arms and legs, where fat also accumulates.
With this method, we can measure the composition of fat compared to other tissues that do conduct electricity. Do not worry; it is not a painful or invasive technique.
It simply shows how electricity levels flow in adipose tissue, muscle, and bone.
However, the result is not always accurate because the study can be altered depending on the amount of water we have in the body.
Balance under water
For example, you can use a submersible balance and place it in the pool. Muscles and bones are denser than adipose tissue, making it easier to identify fat.
The hydrostatic weighing is quite accurate (with an error of 2%). Many athletes use it before the competition.
It is a technique that in addition to measuring body fat also handles BMI, density, and volume. It has a fairly low margin of error but is somewhat expensive.
Similar to hydrostatic weighing, the Bod Pod is not carried out in the water. We can find it in professional sports centers and research laboratories.
It is recommended for obese, elderly or disabled people.
It is the most effective method to measure body fat because it uses X-rays and gives us more accurate measurements.
It is somewhat expensive and is performed in specialized centers.
We should lie there for about 10 minutes without moving, so we can scan ourselves completely.