About Body Fat
The only way to tell the real fatness is to measure the actual fat content in the body.
Even with the same frame type the actual muscle mass can still be very different depending on muscle use and nutritional status. For example, a wide-framed sedentary person who puts on 20 pounds of pure fat will differ from the same frame body builder who puts on 20 pounds of muscle mass. So the only way to tell the real fatness is to measure the actual fat content in the body. There are several ways of measuring body fat, some doesn't require any tool. For example, you can use our free downloadable calculator; you'll only need a measuring tape -> click here
But let's start with the simplest one where all you need to do is measuring your waist. Read why this is important: What Your Waistline Can Tell Your doctor (click here)
The waist measurement must be done at the level of halfway between the upper pelvic bone crest and the rib cage.
Interstingly enough, there are findings that this number alone, evenwithout relating to height, can tell enough about risks for coronary heartdisease and is only gender-specific:
Men > or = 94 cm (37 ins)
Women > or = 80 cm (32 ins)
Men > or =102 cm (40 ins)
Women > or =88 cm (35 ins)
But first let us see what our bodies' major constituents are. Of these, two principal body components are: dry matter and water. You might want to consider lean and fat matter as well, but these two are closely related because muscles contain a lot of water while fat has much less. This is the basis of measuring body fat percentage using so called electrical impedance method (or bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). The more water -- the easier for very low electrical current to pass through the body.
However, this machine can be easily confused by such a common difference in people bodies' composition as hydration status that does not relate to the fat content. Depending on how much water is being retained, one's body weight might vary throughout a day as much as 4.5 to 5 pounds. Consequently, that varies the electrical resistance to the current of a fat measuring machine. This is why you are told not to drink coffee the day of the test, abstain of food intake for at least 4 hours before your fat test, and to lie down for at least several minutes. All the machine of this type have inbuilt software that adjusts the only parameter measured depending on many other parameters that are just being asked: age, gender, ethnicity, physical activity level. etc. I toyed around with this software myself and was amused having my fat percentage magically decreased as a result of cheating with my athletic level.
Another method, a good old one, is a so called skinfold measurement. You purchase a skinfold caliper (it's usually very inexpensive) and pinch your skin along with under-skin fat in several (7 to 20) designated areas, then produce a simple calculation as your caliper manual instructs. Why so many pinches? Because one can store his or her fat in quite different places: as you surely noticed, there are people having a tine waistline and broad hips, or that are heavy in the bottom and slim in the shoulders, and so on. By the way, the very fat distribution can tell about this particular person's health risks (you've heard of course of "apples and pears") - read about it below.
There is also a test named Hydrostatic of Underwater weighing. It is based on the fact that fat and muscle have different physical density with the same volume of fat being much lighter than that of muscle. Immersing the body into the water (head is being left above the surface, but then it usually doesn't have too much of fat), it is possible quite accurately measure the overage body density and thus body fat content. The disadvantage is that the lung volume can contribute rather significantly to the total body volume, and the lungs inflate if a person is under a considerable stress. Imagine what happens if the person being tested is a hydrophobic or is hyperventilating: he or she will respirate excessively, with all the gasped air measured as the fat volume.
Not only fat content, but also evenmore so fat distribution profoundly affects risk factors for cardiovasculardisease. Recently, evidence has accumulated indicating that abdominal fatdeposition contributes to cardiovascular disease. A common and simple methodfor the assessment of body fat distribution is Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR). WHR is more strongly related to visceral (deeper inside the body) than subcutaneous(just under the skin) fat, as measured by using a precise measurement bymagnetic resonance scanning technique.
The results of a clinical studyreported to the 6th Internet World Congress for Biomedical Sciences (Poster# 88) showed a clear association between WHR and direct measurements of bodyfat in different parts of the body in estimating body composition and, inturn, in abdominal fat.
The information provided on DietandBody.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute the practice of medicine. We encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician or nutritionist if they have any concerns regarding health issues related to diet, personal image and any other topics discussed on this site. Neither the owners or employees of DietandBody.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.
Did You Know?
More Weight Loss Tips...