When losing weight many people focus on measuring their progress using a scale.
But when you lose weight you may be losing water weight, muscle, or fat. The scale simply can’t tell you which one of these you’re losing. This is why you should make it a point to measure your body fat instead of your body weight.
Why Track Your Body Fat Percentage?
When you are losing weight, your main goal is to lose fat, not muscle or water weight. This is because water weight loss is temporary, and losing muscle will slow down your metabolism in the long run.
What is The Normal Range of Body Fat?
The range of healthy body fat varies according to gender and age. Generally, women should have about 20%-30% of fat while men should have between 8%-25% of fat.
Anything less or more than this range is unhealthy and efforts should be made to gain or lose fat accordingly.
The only way to know if you are losing fat is by measuring your body fat. If you track your body fat and it remains the same, but you are losing weight, you may have to change your weight loss approach.
How to Measure Body Fat
There are a few methods of measuring body fat, though a majority involve expensive or large equipment, or are just plain inconvenient.
The two methods that are doable at home are the skinfold method, and the height and circumference method.
The skinfold method requires you to have a pair of body fat calipers, which you use to measure standardized areas of the body by pinching the area with the calipers.
These measurements are then applied to an equation which will give you your body fat percentage. However, if you don’t want to use the equation, the measurements alone will give you a good estimate if you are losing fat.
The height and circumference method involves measuring different parts of the body using a tape measure and comparing it to a table of standard values to get your body fat percentage.
There are many calculators on the internet that use this method to help you determine your body fat percentage, so feel free to try them out. Usually the neck, hip and waist are the areas measured.