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Old 06-19-2011, 03:16 AM   #1  
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Default Forget about scales and your BMI! It's all about your Body Fat Percentage...

Hi guys,

Just want to put the word out there! Get rid of the scales and your obsession with BMI - they are deceiving!

When losing weight, we really want to be losing FAT and gaining MUSCLE, yes?

Track your progress by your BF%, giving you a better indicator of your progress.

You can do this a couple of ways;
One is a BF caliper, another is a scale ( I know I said not to use one!) that has bodyfat% as a function.

Go on google (I can't link) and search "Ideal Fat Percentage for Women & Men" or something similar to find a table. Usually a table comes with the scale, or caliper.
Find your sex, and age, and what's the healthy, or normal BF% for you.

For me (20-30 yearsold) It says no less than 21% for a normal %. However there are exceptions to the rule...

Body Fat Percentage Categories
Classification Women (% fat)
Essential Fat 10-12%
Athletes 14-20%
Fitness 21-24%
Acceptable 25-31%
Obese 32%+

Basically what is says here is that having less than 12%BF is unhealthy, and so is having 32% or more.

The best range is between 15%-24% - Athletes/Fitness. And I assume we will all become 'athletes' or fitness freaks after losing weight yes? You have to - exercise is an essential part of weight(fat) loss.

So what I'm saying is forget about your weight in pounds, or kg, or even your goal weight! instead think about your goal BodyFat%!

I'm currently 24.8% and my goal is to be between 15%-20%.

Hope this helped some people or maybe even changed your thinking!
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Old 06-19-2011, 05:50 AM   #2  
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While I agree body fat percentage is far more valuable a number to know it is also far more difficult to measure accurately. Calipers are all but useless in the hands of anyone who has not been trained properly and had a lot of practice. Hydrostatic weighing, dexa scan, and bod pod are typically going to be much more accurate but also involve the cost. In the end, I don't think most actually cares too much what their body fat percentage is beccause they want to be healthy and look good. Thus, pictures and measurements are the best way to measure progress in my opinion.

I also question how many females actually want to become fitness buffs or build any muscle but I love your enthusiasm towards the topic. A word of caution - you may or may not be able to maintain sub 20% BF easily. I've read of many a female who causes themselves big hormonal problems by over doing it exercise wise in a caloric deficit in an attempt to achieve a very lean body. The key is to lose the weight very slowly once you start getting close and actually keep the exercise volume relatively low. Once you hit your desired leaness you can ramp up the exercise in line with the calories to support it.

One guy who seems to have the forumla figured out for achieving and living very lean is Martin who runs leangains.com. I'd suggest you check it out.
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Old 06-19-2011, 06:33 AM   #3  
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Women, JohnP. They are called women.

I do think the body fat percentage is an important thing to keep in mind. I use the body fat percentage reading on my bathroom scale, but only for relative changes. That is, I look for the difference between what the reading was to start and what the reading says now. Whether the numbers the scale gives reflect reality isn't important. So, currently my body fat % has dropped 3 or 4 percentage points. Keep in mind that, like weight, the body fat % reading can vary depending on hydration.

I would love to have a nice low body fat percentage, but it seems that I'd have to have a pretty low body weight to get to 24%. The lowest I got it back when I weighed 147 was 33% (and I was working out 5-6 days a week). But, I think this is normal for older people, and it could be artificially high because it's just off my bathroom scale.

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Old 06-19-2011, 08:41 AM   #4  
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GREAT POST OP! I also like using my clothes and the mirror as gauges for success. Bottom line, if I can pinch an inch, its time to drop bodyfat!

Oh yes, and JohnP is right. Less really IS MORE! Overexercising and undereating keeps most people (for lack of a better word) FAT! Fortunate for me...I'm LAZY! As such, I work out minimally and eat everything I want. Don't get me wrong...I eat healthy, but I also eat foods higher in fat and calories as well. Additionally, although I may only workout 2-4 days/week, when I do, I workout hardcore!

I don't stress out or obsess over food/exercise. If I gain a pound one week, I keep an eye to cut calories, if I lose a pound, I eat more the following week.

BTW, I'm pretty lean....about 17-18% bf.

Last edited by joyfulloser; 06-19-2011 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 06-19-2011, 08:52 AM   #5  
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I really needed this today. Scale has been stuck for a couple of weeks on weight, but its % body fat has been improving. I too use it just for relative info, not absolute, but it's reassuring that both weight and bf are in acceptable ranges. I keep waiting for the supposed metabolic boost to kick in so I can be in the "fit" range for my age and get this wedding ring on. It has been almost two years on this journey. My life has turned around. I've lost 49 pounds and bf has gone from ~38% to just under 30%. At this point I don't think I could get to 24%, but I'd like it to stabilize somewhere in between. I've been faithfully on plan and kicked up the exercise. Don't know what else I can do but have patience, which seems key at my age.
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Old 06-19-2011, 09:12 AM   #6  
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I think it depends on what stage of the game you are at.

If you are morbidly obese or 'standard' obese, the BMI & general numbers on the scale are more of a concern - unless you are an unnatural BB'er for a good 15+ years, the scale will generally reflect the truth, and at that point, it's a health concern primarily.

I think ^ this is where most users in this section generally fall into. When you approach "featherweights" or "maintenance" is when you may want to shift your concern to the "mirror".

However, body fat %'s are deceiving. It is very difficult to get an accurate reading. Most women also greatly underestimate body fat percentages, whether in their mind or looking in a mirror - 14-16% is simply unattainable for many and very difficult to maintain for some. 12-15% is the level used by on-stage figure competitors (female) and that takes several months of very strict dieting, lifting, and cardio. 16-18% is the general range now for the "bikini" division (and 8-10% for BB itself but I don't think that's even a question here).

If you feel good and feel healthy, that's the true goal. But yes, the numbers are less meaningful when you are in the normal range - at that stage, it's body composition.
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Old 06-19-2011, 09:14 AM   #7  
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Here is Leigh Peele's excellent discussion
http://www.leighpeele.com/body-fat-p...nd-percentages
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Old 06-19-2011, 09:52 AM   #8  
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Glad you found something that works for you.
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:10 AM   #9  
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The bathroom scales that are also body fat calculators are really a pretty awful measure for women to use because it mostly measures from the bottom half of the body which is where women carry the most fat. So, most of those numbers will be inflated from a more reliable form of body fat measuring. It's slightly more reliable for men.

With that said, I've lost 50 pounds and went from 49.5 percent fat to 37.5 percent fat in these almost 6 months. So what I'm seeing is change (I hadn't checked it in 4 months either). Change is good, but I'm not going to get hung up on a BF percentage because I know I can't accurately get to that number.

It will be how I feel. How I look and a little the number on the scale.

Last edited by berryblondeboys; 06-19-2011 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:16 AM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sacha View Post
Here is Leigh Peele's excellent discussion
http://www.leighpeele.com/body-fat-p...nd-percentages
Great article! Thank you!
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:42 AM   #11  
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Please post your stats if you have done a Body Composition Test

I 100% agree that Body Fat % is the real question. However, it seem that many people don't have access to body composition testing or have not looked for it. I use BodPod testing and have found that the information to be key to my success. I pay $20 per session and test every 6 weeks. It really helps put the number on the scale into perspective. I wish there was some good data on what is average lean body weight for your height. I would be very curious to know where I fall since, my lean body weight seem to be on the high end.

JohnP- I disagree about women not wanting muscle, the women I know that are very fit look sexy (not bulky).

Start:
Body fat 48%
Fat weight 118.6
Lean weight 128.7
Total weight 247.36

2nd Test:
Body Fat 44.5
Fat weight 105.4
Lean weight 131.7
Total weight 237.03

Gained 3 pounds lean weight, lost 13.2 pounds of fat, for a change of 3.5% body fat lost.
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Old 06-19-2011, 02:22 PM   #12  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celrae View Post
JohnP- I disagree about women not wanting muscle, the women I know that are very fit look sexy (not bulky).
Most of the men and women I personally know feel the same way. It is certainly how I personally feel. I hang out with a group that is fairly fitness oriented. In this kind of group these feelings are common. A lean muscular woman looks sexy.

However, I am referring to the average woman.
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Old 06-19-2011, 02:42 PM   #13  
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Well that sure hit a nerve. A LEAN MUSCULAR WOMAN LOOKS SEXY.....as in that no other woman's body type looks sexy? I'm all for individual opinions, but here, in a weight loss forum, where the majority of the members are far from a lean muscular body, that comment just made me feel hopeless, not inspired.

Age and body type are huge factor in body fat composition. Not everyone strives to be a fitness buff. I hang my hat on just getting to a normal weight/body size. Each to his own I guess.
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Old 06-19-2011, 02:47 PM   #14  
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Now wait a minute. He didn't say they were the only women who look sexy, but that muscular is also sexy. Don't read things that aren't there.
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Old 06-19-2011, 02:47 PM   #15  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnP View Post
I also question how many females actually want to become fitness buffs or build any muscle but I love your enthusiasm towards the topic.
I fit into the category of one who wants to look good and be healthy. It takes too much time and effort to get down to the "good" body fat range.
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