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The calculation of fat mass as a percentage of our overall weight, it is an important information to determine our state of form which is in addition to indicators such as the BMI (Body Mass Index) that do not take this factor into consideration.
THE There are three methods to calculate the percentage of fat mass present in our body.
1) The first method involves the use of a mathematical formula also used in US Navy physical tests. To calculate the percentage of fat mass you will have to measure, with a common "tailor's meter", the circumference of your waist, your neck and your hips. Once you have taken these three measurements, enter them in the three fields below, press the "Calculate" button and you can read the percentage value of your fat mass.
Once you have obtained your reference value it is important to interpret it correctly, possibly with the support of your doctor.
In general, simplifying as much as possible, you will have to pay attention if the estimate of your percentage of fat mass is below 3% for men and if it is below 11% for women (risks for excessive thinness) or if it is above 26% for men and above 32% for women (risks for obesity).
Percentages varying between 6% and 13% for men and between 14% and 20% for women could indicate a particularly athletic state of form.
We also remember that the calculation of the waist size must be carried out by measuring the circumference at the height of a point located between the rib cage and the navel, remaining in an upright position and with relaxed muscles.
2) The second method involves the use of a plicometer like the one depicted in the opening image of this article.
It is a "caliper" associated with a scale of values to be used to measure the percentage of fat mass in four areas of the body: abdomen, biceps, triceps and shoulder blade.
The four measurements must then be made as shown in the following image:
A perfect skinfolder for this type of measurement can be purchased online for around 20 Euros, complete with instructions on how to take the measurements and how to evaluate them.
3) The third method involves the use of a balance equipped with an impedance meter: during the weighing, a slight electrical impulse (obviously totally painless! :-) passes through your body allowing the analysis of the bioelectrical impedance (BIA).
In relation to the type of scale you can have indications with various levels of detail. The scales equipped with electrodes on the base only provide only the total fat percentage and lean mass percentage values; the scales equipped with electrodes also on a special handlebar connected to the base (see the image below) also provide the percentage values of fat mass and lean mass also divided by area of the body: trunk, right arm, left arm, leg right and left leg.
The most widespread and reliable brand of this second type of advanced scales is the Tanita, currently available online at a price of 172 Euros and often used by doctors, dieticians and nutritionists.
This type of scale is also able to provide an indication of the expected mass of muscles.
Tanita professional scale for fat mass calculation
In my case I owe the calculation of fat mass carried out with method 1, i.e. by entering my measurements on this page and the calculation made using the Tanita scale that I use every month to check my fitness, gave a decidedly similar result:12.7% with the first calculation method and 12.3% with the second.
It is clear, however, that the first method does not allow to ascertain in which area of the body the fat is concentrated and does not allow to detect any imbalances between the right and left side of the body.
To get an idea of your fitness based on the percentage of fat mass, you can refer to the following table developed byACE (American Council on Exercise):
However, this table does not take age into account and is therefore only significant for adults, indicatively with an age between 18 and 70 years.
Other items that may interest you:
- Basal metabolism
- How to calculate the ideal weight
- How to speed up the metabolism
- How to calculate the BMI
- Dying man test: what it is and how to do it
You might be interested in the article on impedance balance