Everybody talks about losing weight, but in nearly every case what they really mean is losing fat. One thing that make losing fat much easier is to know what your body fat percentage is to start with. To know that you need a body fat calculator. Your body fat percentage is exactly what it sounds like; the percentage of your body that is composed of fatty tissues.
Trying to lose fat can be a battle; for some a much more difficult battle than for others. You need every advantage in your fight against fat, so here is a way to make losing fat a bit easier. Just as using a journal of your weight and food has been proven to make your weight loss efforts more effective, so to can keeping track of your exact body fat percentages.
Keep all your results in a journal, and track your results carefully. The power of the body fat calculator is that it lets you analyze the amount of fat you’ve lost and the amount of muscle you’ve either lost or gained. That allows you to tweak your program for maximum fat loss success.
What is a normal body fat percentage? As with many things in life, that depends. A normal body fat percentage for a competitive male track athlete, triathlete, football defensive back, or bodybuilder can be very low indeed; on the order of 3% – 7%. Most men past their teens would be pretty darned happy to keep their body fat between 8% – 10%. You’d definitely have that “ripped” look at the level of body fat, if you were carrying any muscle at all. In fact, most men would look great between 10% and 12%, and that would be a percentage they could actually keep throughout the year.
Too much lower than that would be difficult to maintain and could cause problems for some people. Your body actually need some fat in order to function efficiently and it needs a base level of fat to maintain life itself. There are two categories of body fat; stored fat, also called subcutaneous (under the skin) fat, and essential fat. Essential fat is just what it sound like, that fat which is needed to support bodily functions.
Women naturally have a higher percent body fat measurement than do men. A woman at 14% – 16% looks pretty lean, and while a man might be showing a belly roll at 16%, most women would not. In fact, women should not let themselves fall below about 12% to avoid danger to their bodily functions, while men can safely reach as low as 4 or 5%.
If you’re looking for a body fat calculator, you’re in luck. In the past the only way to calculate your percentage of body fat was to immerse yourself in a dunk tank and calculate your total body volume. That volume measurement could then be used together with your weight to measure your body density, and arrive at a body fat measurement. If it sounds a bit complicated, it is, mainly because you need a precisely measured volume of water large enough to completely immerse your body. Not too many people have such a pool of water just laying around, and they’ve never exactly measured the amount of water in their backyard pool.
About 25 years ago, the skin fold test began to see widespread use. That body fat test uses calipers to measure the thickness of skin at certain points on your body. These measurements and your age correlate to a certain body fat percentage. It is not as accurate as the dunk tank method, but it does have obvious advantages. The one problem is that it does not accurately measure belly fat. Belly fat, also known as visceral fat is not directly under the skin, where it can be measure by a skin fold test. Instead, it is packed around your internal organs, where a skin fold test does not read.
More recently electric body fat measuring equipment has begun to see widespread use. More correctly called bioelectric impedance measuring, it is pretty accurate and thanks to advances in electronics, can now be done with inexpensive equipment at your home. In fact, you can buy a scale for less than $50 that has such a body fat tester built right in!
If you’re just a sucker for expensive lab equipment, you’ll probably want to get your body fat measured using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. That even sounds expensive. As the name implies, it uses two different types of x-rays to scan your body. One is absorbed by all your body tissues, the other is not absorbed by fat. A computer is used to analyze the results and compute a highly accurate body fat percentage measurement. If you’re on the U.S. Olympic team, or play in the NFL, you may have had one of these tests done.
By using a body fat calculator, you can closely monitor the exact amount of body fat and muscle you are carrying. That lets you carefully fine tune your exercise and diet program to get teh maximum results, making your fat loss easier. In many cases, being able to exactly measure your progress give added motivation, making your fat loss easier still.