Definitely the easiest well to tell!
But do you know what your actual body fat percentage is?
Or what a healthy body fat percentage is for your gender?
How about knowing how to work it out?
Pretty much, do you know how to tell if you’re fat?
By “fat” I mean how your body is composed on the inside, not so much how you look in tight jeans. You can be skinny and fat at the same time.
What do I mean?
Your body fat percentage is a measure assessing what percentage of your body is made up of fat in comparison to the rest of you, i.e. your organs, your muscle tissues, water etc.
Body fat percentage is a really good indicator of our health, and gives us insight into how we can expect it to be in the future.
Too high and we’re at risk of disease. Too low and our organs could shut down!
Women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men, and we also tend to store it differently. Women store more fat around the hips, whereas men store more fat around the abdominal area. For both of us it’s the fat around the middle that’s most dangerous.
So what is a good amount of fat to have?
Somewhere between 18% – 28% for girls, and 10% – 22% for guys is a good place to be.
This is how our bodies may look at the different percentages:
This is will vary slightly person to person depending on how much muscle you have as well.
So, how to work out if you’re fat?
Easy! Work your way thorough the list below.
No fancy equipment needed. Just a tape measure, a helper and maybe some string.
1. PICTURE COMPARISON
– Look through some pictures of yourself, or strip down and go say to your mirror.
– Compare your images with the examples above
– Guesstimate where you’re at
2. SKINFOLD MEASUREMENT
I had always thought you could only do this with those scary looking calipers they bring out on your first day at the gym. Turns out there’s a far less mortifying method. A friend and I just tested this out and it was really accurate!
You’ll just need your right arm, a tape measure, and someone to help.
– let your arm hang by your side
– get your helper to locate the point halfway between your shoulder and your elbow at the back of your arm (tricep side)
– then get them to pinch a fold of skin and fat away from the muscle
– have them measure the thickness of this fold
– use the table below to find your body fat percentage
BODY FAT %
BODY FAT %
3. WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE
This is both the simplest and best method for assessing your likelihood of developing metabolic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.
A 2004 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that it is waist circumference, and not the more well known BMI, that best predicts obesity related health risks.
– Grab your tape measure
– Wrap it around your waist
– Line it up from the top of your hip bone and along the line of your belly button
– Have a normal breath in, and a normal breath out
– Take your measurement
A waist circumference more than 100cm in men and 90cm in women puts you in the high risk category.
4. HEIGHT TO WAIST RATIO
For our number 4 all you need is a simple piece of string (or anything similar you have lying around).
– Measure your height
– Fold the string in half
– Wrap it around your waist
– Does it fit?
If your waist is less than half your height you’re winning. Again studies have found this to be more accurate than BMI.
5. BMI (BODY MASS INDEX)
I’ve mentioned it a couple of times so I’ll put it in, even though it’s not one I use very much in my clinical practice.
– Hop on the scale
– Record your weight
– Measure your height in meters (so 1.73m if you’re 173cm or 5’8 like me)
– Divide your weight by your height
– Divide your answer by your height again
If my body weight is 60kg and my height is 1.73m, my BMI would be 20.
60 ÷ 1.73 ÷ 1.73 = 20
The BMI ranges are categorised as:
– Underweight: less than 18.5
– Normal: 18.5 – 24.9
– Overweight: 25 – 29.9
– Obese: 30+
The reason I don’t give this much weight (#punintended!) is because it doesn’t give an accurate picture of your actual body composition.
You can have a low BMI and be fat. “Skinny Fat”. Studies have found that almost a third of people who fell into the “normal” BMI range actually had a body fat percentage in the obese range.
And you can have a high BMI and be extremely fit. Think of our Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger. This former body builder is seriously fit and muscley! If you went by his BMI he would be considered obese at 30.8.
So where you do you think you fit in?
Just remember though it’s not all about the numbers. Bar being at risk of disease it really just comes down to this:
Do you like how you look in the mirror? Then awesome!
Do you not like how you look in the mirror? Let’s do something about it.
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I lost a total of 16kg and my body fat percentage decreased from 31% to 18%.
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