Many people place emphasis on losing weight, and measure their progress using a scale. However, this isn’t completely accurate, since it’s fat, specifically, that we should be trying to lose. When you lose weight, you may be losing water weight, muscle, or fat. The scale simply can’t tell you which one of these you’re losing. This is why you should make it a point to measure your body fat instead of your body weight.
Why Measure Body Fat?
When you are losing weight, your main aim should be to lose fat and not muscle or water weight. This is because water weight loss is temporary, and losing muscle will slow down your metabolism in the long run. The only way to know if you are losing fat is by measuring your body fat. If you track your body fat and it remains the same, but you are losing weight, you may have to change your weight loss approach.
What is The Normal Range of Body Fat?
The range of healthy body fat varies according to gender and age. Generally, women should have about 20%-30% of fat while men should have between 8%-25% of fat. Anything less or more than this range is unhealthy and efforts should be made to gain or lose fat accordingly.
How Do You Track Body Fat?
There are a few methods of measuring body fat, though a majority involve expensive or large equipment, or are just plain inconvenient. The two methods that are doable at home are the skinfold method, and the height and circumference method.
The skinfold method requires you to have a pair of body fat calipers, which you use to measure standardized areas of the body by pinching the area with the calipers. These measurements are then applied to an equation which will give you your body fat percentage. However, if you don’t want to use the equation, the measurements alone will give you a good estimate if you are losing fat.
The height and circumference method involves measuring different parts of the body using a tape measure and comparing it to a table of standard values to get your body fat percentage. There are many calculators on the internet that use this method to help you determine your body fat percentage, so feel free to try them out. Usually the neck, hip and waist are the areas measured.
You can use either of these two methods to easily estimate your body fat percentage, and track your fat loss progress. Hopefully you will be seeing more fat loss than muscle loss, and to help this happen be sure to eat the right kind of foods and exercise often!