Explaining Body Fat Percentage
#1: ACE Chart
#2: AccuFitness Body Fat Percentage Chart
- Advantages: Skinfold calipers are very affordable, and measurements can be taken quickly. They can be used at home but are also portable.
- Disadvantages: The method requires practice and basic anatomy knowledge. Also, some people don’t enjoy getting their fat pinched.
- Availability: Calipers are affordable and easy to purchase online.
- Accuracy: The skill of the person performing the skinfolds can vary, impacting the accuracy. Measurement errors can range from 3.5–5% body fat.
Body Circumference Measurements
- Advantages: This method is easy and affordable. A flexible measuring tape and calculator are all you need. These tools can be used at home and are portable.
- Disadvantages: Body circumference equations may not be accurate for all people due to differences in body shape and fat distribution.
- Availability: A flexible measuring tape is easily available and very affordable.
- Accuracy: The accuracy can vary widely based on your similarity to the people used to develop the equations. The error rate can be as low as 2.5–4.5% body fat, but it can also be much higher.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
- Advantages: BIA is quick and easy, and many devices can be purchased by consumers.
- Disadvantages: The accuracy varies widely and can be greatly affected by food and fluid intake.
- Availability: While many units are available to consumers, these are often less accurate than the expensive devices used in medical or research settings.
- Accuracy: Accuracy varies, with an error rate that ranges from 3.8–5% body fat but may be higher or lower depending on the device used.
Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA Scan)
- Advantages: This method provides accurate and detailed information, including a breakdown of different body regions and bone density readings.
- Disadvantages: DEXAs are often unavailable to the general public, expensive when available and deliver a very small amount of radiation.
- Availability: A DEXA is typically only available in medical or research settings.
- Accuracy: A DEXA provides more consistent results than some other methods. The error rate ranges from 2.5–3.5% body fat.
- Advantages: It’s accurate and relatively quick.
- Disadvantages: It’s difficult or impossible for some individuals to be fully submerged under water. The method requires breathing out as much air as possible, then holding your breath underwater.
- Availability: Hydrostatic weighing is typically only available at universities, medical settings or certain fitness facilities. ShapeScale however, is a consumer product and hence is available for personal use.
- Accuracy: Perfectly done, the error of this device can be as low as 2% body fat.
Many people mix up body fat percentage and BMI, but they’re completely different. BMI stands for “Body Mass Index,” and it’s a numeric expression of the relationship between your height and weight. You calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. For example, a BMI for a high performing athlete may look like the following: