Measuring Body Composition

Measuring Body Composition

Measuring your body composition can be an intimidating proposition.  Especially when you think of your tissue being squeezed and pinched between a pair of calipers by someone else.  It may be enough to make you want to avoid the whole process of measuring your body composition all together.

What if I told you that there are ways for you to find out this information on your own,

without the skin pinching and public humiliation?

I have tried a couple of simple “do it yourself” methods for measuring body composition; the Accumeasure single sight skin fold measurement and the U.S. Navy Method and Formula.

Accumeasure Skinfold Technique

I first tried the “Accumeasure” skinfold caliper, but after several months I found it frustrating from week to week for two main reasons.

1. I wasn’t 100% sure that I was taking the measurements in the right place.  (This was before I was PT, but even then, it is confusing.)

2.  I was disheartened because the accumeasure can skew the results for women who have a high body fat ratio.  At the time, I had about 40 pounds or 18 kg to lose.  As I lost weight, the data I was getting showed that I was losing nearly as much lean mass as I was burning fat.  For example:  If I shed 1 kg of weight in one week the accumeasure would reflect that 50% of that was fat and 50% was lean mass.  Not really the desired result that I was looking for.  Especially since I was at the gym 4 days a week lifting heavy weights to maintain muscle and eating plenty of protein to feed the muscle; so I didn’t buy it.

(One of the main reasons for exercising and measuring body composition while you work on getting leaner is to maintain your precious lean muscle mass. But that is a topic for another day.)

U.S. Navy Method and Formula

Eventually, I found the U.S. Navy method which uses your body weight, height, and specific body circumference measurements taken with a simple tape measure.  I find it to be a pretty easy and reliable method for “do it yourself” measurements.

It can tend to slightly overestimate the body fat percentages for women because of our wide child bearing hips.  BUT as long as you use a consistent method for taking your measurements every time, you should get reliable calculations for measuring changes in body fat and lean mass as you lose or gain weight.  Watch the quick tutorial videos below to find out what you need at hand and how to do it.


Introducing the U.S. Navy Method for Measuring Body Composition

Measurements for the Ladies

Measurements for the Gentlemen

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