Weight Loss Support - body fat %

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11-10-2004, 10:28 AM
I have a question- looking all around for the answer, but maybe someone on here will know...

I don't mind using myself for an example- I've lost 15 total lbs, of that 15 I've lost 9.4 body fat lbs. so about 63% of the weight I've lost has been strictly fat (I weigh at the same time every week). I understand some is water weight obviously.

so the question is what % is good (body fat lbs lost/ total lbs)? like anything over 50%? or should it be 75%? should I just forget it and say my 63% is good?

is there anything besides just staying within my heart range and boosting my metabolism that will burn just fat? I've been losing more fat than weight for a couple weeks now, the week before last I only lost .5 lbs but lost 2.1 lbs of body fat and this week I lost 3 lbs and 2.7 lbs body fat.

I'm down to 32.5% body fat- I would love to be in the 20s.


11-10-2004, 11:44 AM
I have an add-on question that I believe has been mentioned before, but...

How do you measure body fat % anyway? Is that something you have to have a doctor do? And what's it consist of?

11-10-2004, 01:33 PM
All I know is that I get is done at Curves every week. She puts in my height, weight, age and then you have to hold this thing straight out in front of you- it must count your pulse or something- not really sure- but height, weight and age are definitely factors of it. not sure the caluculation though.

I think dr's do the pinch test don't they? I've seen that done. How much they can pinch using like a plyer (sp?) type tool.

11-10-2004, 08:09 PM

11-10-2004, 08:36 PM
To my knowledge, there are 3 ways of doing it. The old caliper skin-fold 'pinch' tests which is the least accurate. The most common and easiest way now can be done by passing a very very low electric current thru your body. It does not hurt. There is apparently some sort of differential rate the current passes thru flesh/fat/bone that gives a reading of % body fat. The most accurate way is to be 'water-weighed'. With water weighing, you are totally submerged beneath the water surface on a really big scale. You are asked to expel all the air from your lungs, then weighed both under water where the amount of your fat makes you more bouyant, and then again 'on land'. From these two weights, the amount of your body fat can be calculated.


11-11-2004, 06:27 PM
Some people believe that the caliper test, done by a well-trained technician, is better than the electrical impedence method. The trick is having someone who really knows what they are doing. With electrical impedence, the trick is the conditions under which it is done. The time of day and the length of time since you last ate/drank anything can drastically affect the results. In addition to the dunk test, which is very accurate, there is also an air-displacement pod that is supposed to be pretty good.

Most gyms can do some kind of test, but just keep in mind that even the best methods still have a 3% to 5% error rate. Doing the test once per month at MOST is generally recommended. If you do it more frequently, just keep in mind the numbers will fluctuate more than your weight, even under consistent conditions. If you don't belong to a gym or yours doesn't do this, see if there is a gym, rehab medical facility, sports medicine facility, etc. in your area who will do it for you. An alternative is to buy one of the Tanita brand scales that uses electrical impedence.

As for what numbers are good, don't worry about what % of your lost weight is fat, unless you notice that you are losing a lot of lean. Even the most careful dieter who pursues a weight training regimen will lose some lean. For the end-result numbers, anything below 25% body fat for a woman would be considered healthy, down to 20%. Some say you can go as low as 18%. Some women actually go lower, but it takes some serious work and you can start experiencing menstrual irregularities and the like. So, to some degree, genetics will determine how low you can go and be healthy and be able to maintain it, but if you shoot for 20% to 25% that's a good place to start.

11-11-2004, 08:43 PM
Mentrual irregularities rarely show up until you get below 10-12% unless you are already perimenopausal. 10-12% is considered essential fat for females. 14-20% is considered athletic, 18-23% is fit, 23-25% is good, 25-30 is acceptable, and over 30 is considered obese. These numbers come from the American Council on Exercise.


11-12-2004, 09:23 AM
Thanks Mel.

Do you know what percent is a good amount- like "x" (this is how many body fat lbs you lost)/ "y" (this is how many total lbs you lost)

11-12-2004, 09:02 PM
I'm not sure I understand your question :?:

The same body fat percentages look different on different body types. Some people who carry their fat fairly evenly distributed look great at 24-26%. Others like me, who carry it all abdominally, look fat at that level. At 24%, I had muscle definition in my arms and legs, and no waist at all. to see a waist, I have to keep my bf% at around 18%.

I consider a nine point caliper pinch to be the most accurate measure of bf% if you don't have access to underwater weighing. That assumes that the person doing the testing is highly experienced and the calipers are high quality (Lange), not the plastic accumeasure ones that you can buy for about $5.95.

Rephrase your question :^: and I'll see if I can answer ;)


11-12-2004, 09:54 PM
Kandice - the goal is to lose the least amount of precious muscle and lean body mass as possible while you're losing fat. :) Because I lifted weights during the year that I was losing weight, I was able to add ten pounds of muscle while losing 132 pounds of fat, for a net loss of 122 pounds. Losing weight without simultaneously building muscle will result in a loss of muscle as well as fat -- I've seen estimates as high as 50% muscle/50% fat without weight training. Are you lifting weights?

In my experience, the nine-site caliper testing is definitely the most accurate way to measure. I had my BF checked every four weeks during the year that I was losing to be sure that what I was losing was mostly fat, not muscle. Some people believe that electrical impedance is an unreliable technique, to the point of inanimate objects registering large BF percentages when placed on Tanita scales. If anyone has one at home, you might try and weigh a phone book and see what it says its BF % is. :dizzy:

Regardless of the way that someone gets their BF checked, the important thing is to do it the same way every time, whether it's with calipers or electrical impedance or however. That way you'll be able to see trends over time even if the numbers are a little off. ;)

11-12-2004, 10:22 PM
Here's the one exception to the Tanita scale inaccuracy: Tanita makes a commercial "club" model that is hooked to a small dedicated computer. It costs upwards of $1000. It's as reliable as any bioimpedence method: plus or minus 3%. What is really important is to track longterm trends, not just take a single reading.

The home versions of the Tanita scales are great scales, but questionable bodyfat monitors.


11-13-2004, 06:53 PM
It is difficult to obtain accurate measures of body fat. One of the best measures can be with a skinfold test using fat calipers. Tests should be done consistently (i.e. by the same person), and should be made 3 times, and an average obtained.

Body Fat Calculator (http://www.freedieting.com/tools/body_fat_calculator.htm)

BMI Calculator (http://www.freedieting.com/tools/bmi_calculator.htm)

11-16-2004, 09:28 AM
thanks everyone- hadn't checked this thread for a while. I'm doing the Curves workout- so that gives me the resistance training. I believe I am adding muscles- my quads and hamstrings and biceps esp (and every now and then I pretend that I can see a six pack forming under there :) ) I've lost 28.5 inches so I am toning up- the numbers prove it.

I get my bf% done today so we'll see the results from this week.