T Nation

Body Fat Calculator

Short of getting dunked in water or scanned over by some really cool albeit really expensive medical device, what’s better for tracking incremental changes in body fat (not so much getting an acurate overall bf%)?

Basically my problem is this, I want to use either callipers or a handheld device to have at least some ability (however rough) to track my my bf% on a monthly basis (in addition to my weekly weigh ins and bi-monthly measuring over the common areas). But I’m not sure which is more accurate for detecting changes.

I know the handhelds are infamous for under-estimating bf%, but that doesn’t bother me all that much at this time. If it says I’m 15%bf, a quick look in the mirror will remind me that I’m closer to 20%. However if it says I’m 15% one month and 14% another then is pretty accurate to guess I’ve actually lost 1%bf reguardless of my actual bf% or is it blowing more sunshine up my ass?

On the otherhand calipers seem like they have a much more room for user error, and small changes in how it’s done could make it hard to track increments with any reliability.

Thanks for the help!

This is a really good question and I would like to know the same answer. I have one of the newer Tanita Scales that measures body fat, I wonder in comparison to Calipers and the handheld, wich would be the most accurate, and does the +/- 3% error rate stay consistant or could it be + 3% off one day, and then another day for no good reason be -3%?

I’ll be interested too… there are some bodyfat scales in a local superstore and i have resisted buying them because i’m not sure how good they are or if they are just a gimmick.

Man those hand held unti are just effected to damn much by hydration etc the same day you can get off the wall readings Ive tested thenm bytaking a measure then downing a big glass of water and waiting 10 mins or so test agaiunn and have a varience of as much a 3-4 %

Your best bet is the calipers and use the fold measurement as oppoed to the BF % to gauge progress if the fold gets smaller then your going the right way.Best yet have someone who knows wahtthey are doign do it every time

Phill

That’s crazy! I had no idea they could be that off…I’ll stick with the calipers…Your comments about using the measurements and not the calculations makes perfect sense!

[quote]Phill wrote:
Man those hand held unti are just effected to damn much by hydration etc the same day you can get off the wall readings Ive tested thenm bytaking a measure then downing a big glass of water and waiting 10 mins or so test agaiunn and have a varience of as much a 3-4 %

Your best bet is the calipers and use the fold measurement as oppoed to the BF % to gauge progress if the fold gets smaller then your going the right way.Best yet have someone who knows wahtthey are doign do it every time

Phill[/quote]

I can vouch for the handhelds having seriously high variances. You have to be consistent in your measurement time. I do it right when i wake up as the only real variables are my sleep duration which i chart along side the BF percentage.

bump!

What’s the consensus on the best way to track body fat? I just stepped on a Tanita Ironman BC544 ( http://www.tanita.com/IronManScales.shtml ) and it said I was at 11.8% bf. Is this accurate?

Thanks!

I had mine done with calipers by two different trainers and they were within 1 percent of each other. Then we used the handheld, and there was a 4 percent difference.

Is the 3-4% difference an increase or a decrease???

Even simpler than calipers - use a tape measure.

[quote]sharetrader wrote:
Even simpler than calipers - use a tape measure. [/quote]

I have to agree, the tape measure is much simpler. If you’re starting
out overweight, like I did, than the tape measure is your new best friend. Measure at the same place, on the same day and time every week. If the numbers are going down, great; if not, adjust accordingly.

[quote]BodyBldgBabe wrote:
Is the 3-4% difference an increase or a decrease???[/quote]

It was an increase, less with the calipers

I’m no expert, but I have to agree with sharetrader, use tape measure.
Hand helds have to be the worst for incremental changes. Too many variables can make them go up and down. 2 cups of digested water and your talking about 2-5 % change in body fat.
Develop a consistent method with the tape measure and you will be able to note changes more incrementally.

About a week ago there was an artical on here of an old fashion method where they measured the difference between a flexed and a relaxed bicep.

What is going on now, is everyone too cheap to use a shoe now?