Now that you know what is considered healthy for body fat, let's hop into some different calculation methods available for estimating your body fat. A body fat percentage calculator is a great starting point, but it's not your only option.
Skin fold calipers are the most common way to measure overall body fat percentage.
With this method, a technichian pinches several different areas of your skin with a device called a skin caliper. This allows them to measure the thickness of skin folds for areas like your chest, arms, and thighs.
The technician then plugs in this information into a formula, which spits out your estimated body fat percentage.
What's great about skin calipers is that they're pretty cheap, so you can easily buy them and perform at-home testing.
It's also possible that your gym has them on hand, so ask a personal trainer or staff member if they'd be willing to perform this assessment for you.
The main drawback of skin calipers is that it's easy to use them incorrectly, and so chances are high that you'll end up with the wrong results.
Using skin calipers takes a lot of practice, so make sure you educate yourself on how to use them, or ask someone with experience to help you out.
Bioelectrical impedance involves sending tiny electrical pulses through your body to measure your body fat. This process can be either done with a normal scale that has electrodes under each foot, or it can be done with a more complex hand-held machine.
How quickly those impulses are returned will determine how fatty your tissue is.
Like skin calipers, these devices are relatively cheap, and many standard weight scales have this technology built into them. It's also very easy to use, so you don't need to be trained to use it.
If you don't have this device on hand, you can ask your local gym or personal trainer if they have a device you can use (although you may have to pay to use it).
The main drawback of this device is that it doesn't always offer the most accurate of reads. In fact, readings can be skewed by things such as hydration level, eating, and exercise.
If you're going to use this body fat estimate option try to take readings at the same time each day, and have a set protocol you follow.
This body fat estimate option actually involves going underwater. Hydrostatic weighing, also known as underwater weighing, compares someone's normal bodyweight to their body weight under water.
The technician than uses those two weights as well as the density of the water to calculate your density and then your estimated body composition.
What's great about this option is that it's incredibly accurate. There's a very low percentage of error, and this option is currently referred to as the gold standard for measuring body composition.
This method generally involves you needing to go to a lab or a performance center to get a reading. It's also a more expensive option than the ones listed above.
If you're someone who is uncomfortable with being completely submerged underwater this can be a slightly uncomfortable experience.