Most diet hopefuls talk about their weight on a daily basis. How often do you even hear someone mention their body fat percentage? Probably never.
Well, new studies have determined that fat loss is more important than loss of weight for extending a personal's life span. Furthermore, there is a growing body of research linking high body fat to a variety of health conditions and diseases. The truth is; you need to lose body fat not just weight to get healthier and for that reason, tracking it should be part of everyone's fitness protocol.
Plus, focusing exclusively on weight does not help you figure out if you are losing muscle or fat. To truly and accurately determine your success, you need to track body composition with your other loses. For example, if Marry lost three pounds this week, how else are we going to determine that none of it is muscle tissue and that her metabolic rate is not going to suffer?
Luckily for you, there are many methods to help you test and track your body comp. We have even included an online calculator above, so you don't have to endure the embarrassment of going to another fitness club to have your love handles pinched and prodded by some dude with handheld calibers.
Realities of Testing Body Fat %
Don't be surprised if your weight increases with the addition of dense muscle tissue as your body fat percentage (and size) comes down. And expect the process to be slow. No matter what method you use to monitor body fat, consistency is the key to gauging percentage of change. It is best to take measurements at the same time each day, but whatever time of day you measure you body fat, try to allow about three hours after rising, eating or hard exercise.
Water, Weight and Body Fat
Water retention can throw off your body fat numbers. Hydration levels can be affected by many different variables: food, sodium, water intake, stress, prescribed drugs, caffeine, exercise, climate, and the list goes on. For women, body fat results can also be skewed by menstruation cycles due to natural retention of water and hormonal changes. Men and women should both aim for eliminating as many variables as possible when taking their body fat tests by placing themselves under similar conditions. It also helps that your take your measurements over an extended period of time to really assess improvements, not just weekly.