What is the single, most effective way to calculate body fat? There are many techniques out there to choose from, but what is the most effective?
Let's start with the LEAST reliable method and yet the most common method used.
Weight to Height Ratio. Weight/Height tables are very limited because they simply don't calculate body fat. If you have two people who are 5'10 and weigh 200lbs, one is a body builder and has little fat on their body and the other is very obese. The weight/height table will say they are both overweight and at risk.
The machines you find in gyms, airports, supermarkets, that ask you to enter your height, age and even your frame size, are just fancy height-weight tables and they don't calculate body fat. And more importantly, height-weight tables will tell you nothing about your general health status.
BMI (Body Mass Index) is a very simple tool. It's best use is for risk assessment for the general population. Does BMI calculate body fat?
Unfortunately not. Compared to height-weight tables though, it has a much higher association with a person's body fat. How does it work? It's a simple formula...
BMI = Body mass in kilograms (Height x Height in meters) (Divide weight in lbs by 2.2046 to get weight in kg's)
So as an example a 150lb (68kg) woman who is 165cm (1.65m) tall...
BMI = 68 (1.65 x 1.65)
= 68 2.7
This person has a Body Mass Index of 25. What exactly does this mean? Well there is an association between BMI and many major degenerative diseases. As a person's BMI increases so does their risk of ill health.
Underweight Moderate less than 18.5
Normal Very low 18.5 - 24.9
Overweight Low 25.0 - 29.9
Obese Class 1 Moderate 30.0 - 34.9
Obese class 2 High 35.0 - 39.9
Extreme obesity Very high greater than 40.0
BMI will be inaccurate for many athletes. BMI doesn't calculate body fat so it can't make allowances for muscular development. Athletes such as bodybuilders, football players, throwing athletes and anyone on a weight training program should avoid using BMI as a way to calculate body fat.
Growing children and very elderly, sedentary adults should also avoid using BMI as a way to calculate body fat.
Along with height-weight tables, BMI has serious limitations.
Metabolic Effect using a Shape Calculator to help determine body fat. It is genius. Try it out and see for yourself and get a more accurate idea what your body fat/shape is for you unique you by clicking here: Metabolic Effect Shape Calculator
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