Now that I'm becoming somewhat serious about exercising, I'm interested in calculating my body fat percentage. I am seeing two kinds in the market: (i) Stand-alone ones you can hold which seems to be using electric current; and (ii) one that combines as a weight scale.
I'm thinking about getting the weight scale/body fat % calculator. Any advantage / disadvantage in getting something like this over the other? Are they both accurate? Not a professional athlete, just an Average Joe (5-10 / 157 lbs.) who has become quite lean Paleoing. I just want to see how I'm doing as I add exercise routines and put on some lean, functional muscles.
we use both of these. One requires a cloth sewing tape measure, the other requires body fat calipers (about 6 or 8 dollars from amazon.com). On me, my wife, and our teenage son they are always about 1% from each other (one says I am 14%, the other 15%). that spread seems pretty consistant for our three different bodies. besides, the actual number is not as important as tracking change month to month, right?
Those scales don't work at all. How does it distinguish between muscle and fat? It can't! If you really want to know, spend about $40 to get a Bod Pod reading. That way, you know for sure how much fat you have. If you live in the United States you can find a Bod Pod location here
Those body fat calculators are meaningless in my opinion. If you are not perceived fat by others then you know are not fat no matter what fat % those "fat calculators" may show. I think mirror is much better way to track the progress.
I use calipers and plug the numbers, plus my age + weight + gender, into a couple of equations I found on the web, and take the average of those results.
( 1.378 * Waist - 0.0174 * Waist2 + .213 * Age - 5.84 )
10.32 * log( Bicep + Tricep + Waist + Shoulder ) + .0657 * log( Bicep + Tricep + Waist + Shoulder ) * Age - 27.03
Where I take skinfold measurements from my bicep, my tricep, waist (a few inches from my belly button), and scapula (between my shoulder blade and my spine). The last one is difficult to do myself ;-)
I created an online calculator for myself, because I'm nerdy and I like doing such things. It also calculates some other meaningless numbers; BMI, basal metabolic rate, activity based metabolic rate (supposing you give it an accurate estimate of your activity level) etc.
I take two equations because I notice they both disagree with what my Tanita Bodyfat Monitor scale says (hint, hint) as well as what my eyes suggest.
I see what my Tanita says, but only use its number as an indication of a general trend. "Oh, it's a percentage less this week than it was last week, so I might be making some progress with fat loss".
Same with my measurements, but I think they're more accurate (but not completely) e.g. I get certain numbers as a result - but visually, my body doesn't agree with other "eyeball indicators" like 'should be able to see abs at 10%' etc.
So who knows? :)
BTW, the calipers I bought can be had pretty cheap online.
I've never found an accurate way of measuring. Jus learning what different body fat percentages look like I've found is better. Try and attend some competitions and you'll quickly get some idea. These pics are pretty in line with what I believe:
Incidentally leigh peele is pretty good person to read in general. No BS, no titles for diets etc, just straight info.
If you want an accurate reading, I also agree that you should get a professional to do it, with the adapted tools.
Personally though, I'm not worried about precision and go with the idea that if my scale is inaccurate, it's consistently inaccurate. As long as the number goes downish, I know I'm following the rightish path.
I have played around with my scale a bit as well, and if I drink a bunch of water beforehand, funny things happen - my water % stays the sameish, but my body fat % jumps up about 3%!
Anywho, according to my scale, Paleo has helped me go from a 26.6% BF (first inaccurate reading) to a +/- 24.5% BF. (I "check" once a month, but first thing several mornings in a row, and take the average.)