How accurate are body fat percentage calculators?
Fairly accurate, generally speaking. But an online body fat calculator isn’t the most accurate way to determine your body fat percentage.
There are several different methods you can use to calculate body fat percentage.
Here are the most common body fat measurement methods, in order from most accurate to least accurate.
1. Dexa Scan
Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) involves using a low-level X-ray beam to determine your fat-free mass, fat mass and bone mineral density.
Dexa is the most accurate way to measure body fatBut one downside is that it is not readily available in every geographic area, and it can be relatively expensive compared to other methods.
2. Hydrostatic Weighing
In this method it is first weighed, then immersed in water and weighed again. Because fat is less dense than water, a person with more body fat will weigh less underwater.
This is a very accurate way of measuring body fat percentage (it was the gold standard before DEXA), but it is not commonly used outside of research settings, (It requires a deep hot tub-looking tank and, fun fact, an autopsy scale.)
3. Air-displacement Plethysmography (Bod Pod)
A machine estimates body fat percentage in a way similar to hydrostatic weighing, only using air pressure instead of water.
this is the way Relatively accurate and more readily available (More and more gyms have them now), but more expensive than the less precise options below.
4. Skinfold Measurement
Calipers are used to measure the thickness of fat and skin in many areas of the body. Then, those numbers are added to a formula to determine body fat percentage.
The accuracy of this method depends on the skill level of the person taking the measurement. To track changes over time, it is important that the same person takes all the measurements.
Also, this method May not be accurate for people with very high levels of body fat,
5. Perimeter Measurement
Body fat measurements (such as those used in the body fat percentage calculator on this page) can be added to a formula, along with other information such as height, weight, age and gender, to estimate body fat percentage.
Although this is not the most accurate method, it is one of the easiest And no special equipment is required (other than a measuring tape).
This method is particularly useful for measuring progress over time, as changes in thickness can indicate changes in muscle and body fat.
6. Bioelectric impedance
Scales that measure body fat percentage use this method. Essentially, the scale sends an electric current through your body and measures resistance.
Fat produces more resistance than muscle and water, which helps estimate your body fat percentage.
Problem: This method can be sensitive to hydration status. (So your results can fluctuate even on the same day.)
7. Bodyweight alone
Weight change reflects a decrease or increase in body fat, but it is a scale Won’t tell you whether weight gain or loss comes from muscle or fat,
What’s the deal with the body fat formula of three?
As mentioned earlier, this body fat calculator takes your inputs and converts them into three scientifically validated body fat percentage formulas:
- YMCA Body Fat Formula: Originally used by the YMCA. It uses waist circumference, body weight and gender.
- Navy Body Fat Formula: Developed by the US Naval Health Research Center. It uses neck circumference and waist circumference for men, and neck circumference, waist circumference and hip circumference for women.1
- Kun Bae Body Fat Formula: Developed at the University of Navarra in Spain. CUN is an acronym for BAE Clínica Universidad de Navarra (CUN) Body Adiposity Estimator (BAE). It uses body weight, height, age and gender.2
Then we average all three to give you a solid idea of where you stand. Each body fat percentage formula has its own benefits and drawbacks, which is why we use all three to come up with a more realistic estimate.
“Estimating my body fat doesn’t make sense!”
Well, we’ve already noted that this body fat percentage calculator is only an estimate and that, depending on your specific physique, may not accurately reflect your exact body fat percentage.
But let’s explore this a little further.
Say a million random people use a calculator. Odds are 950,000 of them will find that it provides a very reliable estimate.
At the same time, this path can be closed or completely AndCredible—for 50,000 of these people.
While 50,000 may seem like a lot compared to 950,000, it is pocket change.
Think of it this way: In the general population, there aren’t many people—percentage-wise—built like an NFL linebacker.
However, you may be.
Or you may fall on the other end of the body composition spectrum.
The formulas—like this body fat calculator—that have been developed to estimate body fat percentage from circumference measurements simply aren’t sensitive enough for all body types, especially those that are far from average. Huh.
BUT… they are the best formulas we have based on scientific research.
Again, these numbers don’t define you. They are just data that you can use to measure changes over time.
Your age, gender and ethnicity affect your results.
people vary widely in their Body size and shape. We are all unique individuals.
In addition, many other factors affect your body fat percentage and body fat distribution, including:
As you age, you lose lean mass and gain body fat. You also store more visceral fat.
On average, men and women have different levels of body fat. Furthermore, that fat is often distributed differently over their bodies, thanks largely to the effects of hormones.3,4,5,6
Males usually gain more fat around the middle.
fat tends to increase around women lower abdomen, hips and thighs as well as in breast tissue,
However, men whose bodies convert testosterone to estrogen more easily may also have more typically female patterns of breast tissue and fat distribution around their hips and thighs.
Males and females differ in how much body fat is optimal for health, function, longevity, and performance.
in general, female bodies prefer a higher range of body fat For overall health.
And, on average, men have more lean mass over a lifetime than women.
What if I’m intersex or trans?
To date, there is no reliable count for intersex or transgender people. (This is due to the lack of scientific data in this area.)
Typically, the most accurate estimates will come from using body composition counts that are closest to a the individual’s current hormonal profile,7,8
complementary hormones such as estrogen And Testosterone Over time, will affect lean mass and body composition.
trans men Those who have been supplementing with testosterone for at least six months, and have had top surgery to eliminate breast tissue, may find the male body composition equation to be most accurate.
trans women Those who have been taking estrogen supplements for at least six months may find the female body composition equation to be most accurate.
There may be meaningful differences between ethnic groups.9,10,11,12,13
This occurs both in terms of how accurately the calculated estimate of body fat represents reality, and also for predicting health and disease risk.
For example, people of certain types of South and East Asian ancestry may have a higher risk of metabolic disease (such as heart or type 2 diabetes) with relatively low levels of body fat compared to someone of Western European ancestry.
And people in populations who have a generally heavy and dense body type – such as many indigenous South Pacific people – may be classified in the “obese” or high-risk category, regardless of whether body type is associated with negative health effects. Not there. for them,