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Aug-08-2011

Measuring Your Progress

The most accurate and scientific way to determine your body fat percentage is by hydrostatic weighing.  This test is conducted in special tank and compares your weight completely under (with all air exhaled out of our lungs) and out of water. Hydrostatic weighing is based on the concept that the density and gravity of lean tissue is greater than that of fat tissue, so lean tissue will sink in water and fat tissue will float.

 

While hydrostatic weighing is the best measurement, it can be costly, inconvenient and time-consuming. Other methods of determining body fat levels, such as the Bod Pod, a device that uses air displacement instead of water, while more convenient are also costly and unavailable to most of us.

 

Another way to measure body fat percentage is with anthropometric measurements.  Measurements are taken with a measuring tape at sites where fat is usually distributed, such as the waist and thigh. Specific equations are used to calculate the body fat percentage. These measurements while less costly and easier to do but are not very accurate.

 

Overall, body fat percentage can best be measured with skin fold calipers. If done correctly calipers are an accurate, inexpensive and convenient way to measure the thickness of subcutaneous fat. This technique involves measuring fat levels in the body by assessing levels at certain key fat depots with the skin calipers. You can have the skin fold test performed by a professional, or you can do it yourself by purchasing the calipers, along with easy to follow instructions.

 

 

Measuring Your Progress

  • Weight Can Be Misleading – depending on fluid retention in the short term and on changes in body composition in the long term.
  • Someone may weigh the same but have much higher muscle mass and lower body fat.

 

With the calipers you can determine your percentage body fat by taking skin density measurements of the suprailliac area. This area is approximately one inch above the right hipbone about five inches or so to the right of and just below your belly button. As per the diagram, while standing firmly pinch the suprailliac skinfold between your left thumb and forefinger. Place the jaws of the calipers over the skinfold while continuing to hold the skinfold with the left hand. Then take your measurement as per the instructions and the diagram. Once you have the measurement refer to the body fat interpretation chart (included with the calipers) to determine your body fat percentage.

 

There are other ways to measure progress but they're not reliable for measuring body composition. For example most people can't be objective looking in the mirror or rely on the way clothes fit. Using the popular Body Mass Index (BMI) is totally useless for measuring body composition. For example take two men who are both 6 feet tall and weigh 200 lbs. Even though one of them may have only 10% body fat (and therefore look muscular and trim) and the other 35% body fat (and look FAT), their BMI would be the same.

 

Other Ways to Measure Progress

  • Mirror.
  • The way clothes fit.
  • What people say.
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) – height and weight formula that can’t take into account body composition.
  • Measuring body fat - this only gives you a measure of fat loss.
  • The Metabolic Index.

 

The Accu-Measure Calipers

 

As I mentioned above hydrostatic weighing is the best way to measure your body fat percentage. The most accurate of the easy to use alternatives are the skin fold calipers.

 

For the purposes of the Metabolic Diet and to keep things as simple as possible, we will only measure one site. The Accu-MeasureäCalipers (available from www.MetabolicDiet.com) is a precision instrument which has been shown in comparative studies to be closer in accuracy to the “gold standard” underwater weighing than any of the more elaborate methods of measuring body fat (without the inconvenience, expense and trained personnel and lack of privacy that these other methods entail).

 

With the calipers you can determine your percentage body fat by taking skin density measurements of the suprailliac area. This area is approximately one inch above the right hipbone about five inches or so to the right of and just below your belly button.

 

As per the diagram (go to the info on skinforld calipers in the store), while standing firmly pinch the suprailliac skinfold between your left thumb and forefinger. Place the jaws of the calipers over the skinfold while continuing to hold the skinfold with the left hand. Then take your measurement as per the instructions and the diagram. Once you have the measurement refer to the body fat interpretation chart below (also included with the calipers) to determine your body fat percentage.

 

While knowing your body fat level is a step forward, it tells you nothing about your level of lean body mass. To get the complete picture and accurately measure your present status and progress we need to use my Metabolic Index.

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