Fat measurement?

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    Sep 29, 2007 10:12 PM GMT
    What do you guys use to measure your fat level? I tried using the skin caliper, but it really requires someone else to be around and I don't usually have someone around (plus it's a pain icon_razz.gif). So I recently just go a scale that does it. I've been pretty happy cuz I don't care about being accurate to the percentage. Just wondering if anyone does it differently.
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    Sep 30, 2007 6:44 AM GMT
    For solo home use, your best fat assessment device might be...the mirror. Done properly, the calipers are a reasonable proxy for expensive professional tests. But the slightest error in using them can produce wildly variant results. The impedance monitor scales are high on precision but low on accuracy; your level of hydration, time of day, and other factors unrelated to fat have big impacts on the number you get and the underlying algorithms are not perfect. The mirror promises less precision (no two-decimal fat percentage estimates from this one), but the visual inspection is more stable, too. Keep in mind over time that as we age we tend to accumulate more internal fat, around organs as opposed to just under the skin, so even if you look exactly the same in the mirror in 10 years you're fat percentage has probably risen a bit.

    If you want a precise and accurate number, there isn't really a good home-based substitute for hydrostatic testing. You could get one and then use your impedance monitor to measure change over time, so long as you're minimizing variability in measurement conditions (e.g. doing it every morning after getting out of bed but before eating) and not getting too caught up in short-term day-to-day changes.
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    Sep 30, 2007 12:18 PM GMT
    I have a body fat measuring scale made by Soehnle in Germany, and it can show my body fat changing 10% from one day to the next. Apparently, just walking around, using the leg muscles, can change the reading on those things. The advice I was given here was to get one of the Omron hand-held body-fat measuring devices that measures across the arms instead of the legs. The guy said there was a lot less variance in the readings compared to the scales.
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    Sep 30, 2007 2:44 PM GMT
    Body-fat-measuring scales use electrical resistance as a way of measuring fat %. You can get wildly different measurements depending on how much water/fluids you have consumed. Don't use the percentage as a gold standard, more of a guideline as it is just not accurate...
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    Sep 30, 2007 4:29 PM GMT
    paradox, i've got both a step-on scale and an Omron handheld. The handheld is a lot less wild in its estimate, though a day-to-day variance of up to 8% (not percentage points, of course) is still not unusual.

    The handheld is a lot more fun at parties, too. icon_lol.gif
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    Sep 30, 2007 4:35 PM GMT
    The mirror... I dunno. All summer, I have been catching random glances of myself, while walking past a mirror.
    0545: Wow! Abs! Looking good man!
    0930: OH SHIT! Look at all that flab!
    1230: Hey! Pretty good definition there!
    1730: Damn! What a shapeless blob!

    The purpose of instruments is to bring some objectivity to these sort of assessments. The problem is that these fat measurement techniques are all indirect. If a technique at least was consistent enough to track individual progress, even if it didn't provide a good number, it might be useful.

    I'm reminded of a poor old guy who is an amateur scientist. He buys his way into lots of small scientific conferences and presents papers about his discovery of "W-Waves." Basically, he hooks up electrodes to trees and rocks, and to a series of amplifiers and O-scopes, and runs the resulting signal noise through random filter algorithms until he gets a waveform. It's the force that holds the universe together, don't you know. Hmm... static and wishful thinking. Maybe so...
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    Sep 30, 2007 5:04 PM GMT
    Why do you want to know?
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Sep 30, 2007 8:22 PM GMT
    I wear a spandex unitard around town and use the positive/negative reactions of onlookers as a gauge of my current state of fatness.
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    Oct 02, 2007 3:11 AM GMT
    obscenewish, if you're asking me, I want to know because I'm trying to get a 6 pack, and it's known that you have to get your body fat below a certain level. I think my way is working; it's at least better than before where I had no clue at all. I try to measure consistently in the morning after I shower on this Tantra (I know I mispelled that) scale I have. At least now I have a way of measuring and tracking my progress.
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    Oct 02, 2007 11:10 AM GMT
    That would be 'Tanita'.