What IS my percent body fat?
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I've been researching percent body fat today - trying to figure out where my percent body fat falls on the charts. Am I in a healthy range? Am I in the athletic range? (I'd like that.) It has been an interesting adventure, just finding ONE definitive chart that gives me the information I need. And then there's the problem of whether the number I have for body fat is correct.
My Tanita scale measures my body fat at about 22% these days. The handy dandy little indicator on the scale now says that for my age I am underfat. However, I've heard that can happen if you are very fit. The first question, though, is whether my scale is accurate. From my reading, I find that if you are dehydrated, the scale will overestimate your body fat. I weigh myself first thing in the morning, when I am least hydrated. If I weigh myself in the middle of the day, my body fat has shown as low as 17% on the scale. Which is right???
So, I did a couple of the circumference calculators online. The US Navy Calculator which takes measurements of your neck, waist, and hip, as well as height and weight says I'm at 19.7% body fat. Another calculator which takes measurements of wrist, forearm, and hip says I'm at 25.7%. WOW, that's quite the discrepancy. Which is right???
And now to the charts. Some charts say that at 22% body fat, I'm in the fitness range. Some charts say I'm underfat. And those based on age, say that for my age I'm underfat. I should be 23%, I guess. However, which chart should I use? The ones that have age, don't take into consideration fitness, and the ones that have fitness don't take into consideration age. Grrrrrr.... Of course, if I believe one of the circumference measurements instead of my scale I'm at nearly 26% so I'm not underfat according to my age....
It's getting very frustrating. I just want a definitive answer. Where am I???
It looks like I could be on the edge of dangerously low body fat. I don't want to do that, as that increases risk for osteoporosis, but I'm not sure if I'm really dangerously low, or if I'm just very fit, or what my real body fat percent is, even!
So, I looked into who in my area has something to measure body fat using hydrostatic weighing - the most accurate method out there. I found that there's an institute of sports medicine about 60 miles from me that has a bod pod - one of the hydrostatic weighing devices. (It uses air instead of water, though, and it's supposed to be VERY accurate.) It's $80 for two tests. I think I'm going to save up and get tested. Maybe they'll be able to tell me what my percent really is, and whether it is healthy for me.