Is it best to measure fat with calipers or the electronic scale that tells you what part is fat and what part is lean mass? Is there another way?
You can measure your body fat % using measurements. Google The Zone diet waist hip ratio measurements and you should be able to find it there. They have a chart that will let you know what your bf% based on your waist, weight and ht measures. It is not 100% accurrate, but will get you a ball park range.
The best home use tool is calipers, but you must measure in the same spot everytime or else that will be off too.
Most gyms offer a bf% test for free. Chekc in to it!
Late response, but maybe it'll help. The "best" way is the way that you'll be able to do consistently.
The most accurate method is hydrostatic testing, where you get dunked in a water tank using special equipment to have your weight and displacement compared. For most people it's a little impractical for regular use :-).
Calipers are, from what I've read, the most accurate practical method. But I've found it hard to do on myself. I'm with RockinRoe on this - if your gym, health club or YMCA provides free testing for their members, I'd go with that.
Using measurements is probably the next best. There are several different tables or formulas available, including the one RockinRoe mentioned. They will often be somewhat off from calipers (anywhere from half a percent to two or three percent, possibly more), but in my experience they're usually off in a consistent way, so comparisons over time tend to still be fairly accurate.
Electrostatic scales are probably the easiest to use, but in my experience they're also the most inconsistent. The two scales I've had could vary by up to two or three percent in successive weighings. There's a similar gadget you can buy at Vitamin World which is handheld - you pre-enter some information, then put your thumbs on the contacts and it calculates your body fat in the same way the scales do - but I have no idea how well or how consistently it works.
We have a Withings body fat scale, and it seems more accurate than the last one we had. It can vary at times during successive weighings, but usually only by a few tenths of percentage points - not 2 or 3. What I like about it is it sends the information to my phone and saves the data so I can see my progress over time. One day I was discouraged because I gained a pound, but when I looked on the phone, it said I gained 3 pounds of lean mass and lost 2 pounds of fat -that sure made me feel better! However, the last several days, the numbers have remained the same, but it says I have lost muscle and gained fat, and that is discouraging. So, I am just going to keep doing the program and rely on how I feel and how my clothes fit - which is looser!
Following up on my last post, I can't recommend the little Vitamin World body fat calculator. I've followed the instructions, but it always reads 47.5% body fat, even when I try their little "troubleshooting" ideas (have your thumbs a little damp, etc.).
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