Measuring body fat is a much more accurate way of tracking your progress than simply using a scale. Weight can mean anything from water to bone to muscle, but with the fat percentage, you know exactly what you’re measuring.
How Do I Check My Body Fat Percentage?
There are a few ways to check your body fat such as high-tech machines like DEXA which measures almost everything about your body to calipers which you can use from the comfort of your own home. The issue with calipers is that there’s a high degree of human error which can affect your measurements each time you test, giving you an obscure view of your progress. For this reason, many people have started to opt for services such as Bod Pod and DEXA which can give a more consistent measurement of your body.
What are DEXA and Bod Pod?
DEXA works through x-rays where essentially all you have to do is lay down for about 10 minutes whilst a metal arm scans down your body. Bod Pod, on the other hand, involves the individual getting into a container which measures then measures the displacement of air.
Which Is Better?
A study published in 2015 aimed to find out whether DEXA or a Bod Pod was more accurate. The researchers took three groups of participants who were all separated dependent on their BMI.
- Below Average (<18.5)
- Above Average (>25)
- Average (18.55-24.99)
Each participant underwent two body fat measurement tests which were taken six hours apart.
Now, the interesting part is that the results of the DEXA and Bod Pod were wildly different for the below average group, but those with a higher BMI tended to show similar results.
Average Body Fat for DEXA vs Bod Pod for each group:
- BA – 8.82% v. 16.15-16.16%
- AA – 34.38% v. 31.64-32.93%
- A – 20% v. 21.96-22.45%
As you can see, it seems as though the Bod Pod overestimated the body fat percentage of the underweight group by almost double. In fact, the biggest difference between the readings was 13% for one individual.
The researchers eventually concluded that for those within the healthy BMI range, the Bod Pod was more accurate, but for lean individuals, the DEXA was far closer to the true percentage. Essentially, leaner individuals would get a higher reading whilst larger individuals would get a lower reading for the Bod Pod.
Are Any of Them Truly Accurate?
Now, the only real way to know how much body fat is on an individual is to conduct a post mortem. Yet, the important part isn’t the accuracy of the numbers themselves, but the consistency of the results. Whether you use DEXA, callipers or a fancy scale, they’re going to be equally inaccurate each time, so what matters is that you’re heading in the right direction. If your readings show that you lost 5% it doesn’t matter whether that’s true, what matters is that you know you’ve lose fat.
At the end of the day, weight and body fat percentage are just numbers. What really matters is whether you feel good and like the way you look. Don’t stress yourself out with readings that might not even be accurate.