How To Calculate Your Body Fat Percentage
Knowing your weight and your Body Mass Index is a start, but those alone don't tell you how much of your body is made up of lean tissue and bone, and how much is fat.
Of course, you'll already have a good idea if you have a little - or a lot - more fat than is healthy. Maybe you've developed the typical post-menopausal fat belly, and find you're tending towards an apple shape.
But just how much of that extra 'you' is fat? There are various ways to calculate body fat percentage.
A Simple Way To Calculate Body Fat
If you don't want to mess about with machines and calipers, there are simple online body fat calculators that you can use yourself.
Tests like these are not very precise, but can give you and idea of your body fat percentage.
You need to know your weight and height, and have a tape measure handy before you perform the test.
When you calculate body fat, you can check in the column opposite to see if your result is healthy.
If you're above the healthy average, or if you know that you've sprouted a spare tyre that you'd really like to lose, then find out more about how to tackle menopausal weight gain
Using Calipers to Calculate Body Fat
Calipers are like large pincers, which you can use to measure a fold of skin and fat.
You can buy calipers readily to use at home yourself, or visit a gym or fitness centre and ask to be measured.
Calipers may look like a crude way to measure body fat percentage, but they're simple to use and will give you a good idea of how much extra fat has settled on your unwilling body!
Machines That Calculate Body Fat
You may have seen special scales which can magically tell you how much of your body weight is made up of fat. In fact, they're using a technique called Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). You'll find these scales in health and sports centres, and you can also buy them to use at home - although they can cost as much as £50/$100.
They work by passing a very low electrical current through your body. Fat is more resistant than lean flesh, and the scales measure the degree of resistance and from there they calculate your body fat percentage.
Sounds neat, but the results are easily skewed if you've recently drunk some water. If you buy one to use at home, make sure you always weigh yourself at the same time of day, and do it when you haven't recently had anything to drink.
There is another type of machine called a Hydrodensitometre, which calculates body fat by working out how much water you displace when you're fully immersed. This isn't one to try at home! Professional athletes use these gizmos, but the rest of us don't need anything quite so extreme.
Healthy body fat
A healthy body fat percentage depends partly on your age. Roughly, you should be looking for figures like these:
Age 35-35 - 20-26%
Age 40-59 - 21-28%
Age 60-79 - 22-29%
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