Fat Measurement Method Verified!

We’ve already discussed the fact that when you’re attempting to lose fat weight, keeping up with your body fat percentage is as important, if not more so, than just looking at your total body weight on a scale (see http://www.darrylpace.com/weight-no-longer-2/).

Also, in the blog post here, http://www.darrylpace.com/measuring-body-fat/, we discussed some methods for measuring body fat levels .

The method I’ve used for years has been the skin caliper method.  However, I’ve always been curious about its accuracy.

Back in 1997 (I think), I had my body fat percentage measured in a Bod Pod.  The calipers seemed to give me results close to what the Bod Pod did.  Still though, I wondered how the calipers compared to the “gold standard” of body fat measurement — hydrostatic weighing.

Fast forward to the present.  After searching high and low for a place where hydrostatic weighing was available to the public, I finally found one.  I got my body fat measured via the hydrostatic method one week ago (March 3, 2010).  My body fat percentage was 9% at a body weight of 222 lbs.

How did this compare with the skin calipers?  According to the calipers my body fat percentage is 9.2%.  So, the two methods seem to be very close.iStock_000008942669XSmall

There are pluses and minuses to both methods.

Concerning Hydrostatic weighing, it is not cheap.  My weighing cost me $50.  Also, as I stated in a previous blog post, you have to strip down to swimming trunks (which can be inconvenient), and it can be difficult just to find a place that provides hydrostatic weighing.

An additional minus regarding the hydrostatic weighing technique is that it is uncomfortable…or at least I found it to be.  The uncomfortable part was the feeling I got after exhaling as much air as I possibly could while under water.  It just didn’t feel good.

The primary plus of the water weighing method is its accuracy.  It is considered THE most accurate method for measuring body fat for a live human being (a cadaver can be more definitively measured by chemical analysis where the body is dissolved in a chemical solution).

In addition to being accurate, the facility that provides the hydrostatic weighing service may provide additional information in their analysis of your body.  For example, along with my body fat percentage, they gave me personalized calorie estimates for maintaining my weight (3552 calories per day), losing 1 or 2 pounds per week (3052 and 2552 calories/day, respectively), or gaining 1 or 2 pounds per week (4052 and 4552 calories).  They also provided personalized estimated calorie expenditures for various activities (basketball, aerobics, swimming, etc.), and a chart of body fat recommendations and categories for various age groups.

Of course, you could just get a pair of skin calipers for around $7.  In the privacy of your own home, you could measure your body fat fairly accurately (within 2 – 4% of a hydrostatic weighing) time and time again, until the calipers wear out.  You might not get the extra informational goodies (maintenance calorie level, etc.) when you take a measurement, but who cares.  It’s your body fat percentage you’re interested in, not the other stuff.


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One Response to “Fat Measurement Method Verified!”

  1. Hi Darryl,

    Thank you for providing such concrete fitness measuring tools. Indeed in every marriage relationship, as you surely know, your vitality and longevity, you care about because of the sweet love of your spouse, right? Using all of these tools is so important for truly the love lifetime of a marriage?

    Mazel tov!

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell


    Dating Expert and Online Dating Coach

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