Body Fat Calculation and Health
By Pauline Robinson 11 Comments
The higher your percentage of fat above average levels, the higher your health risk for weight-related illness, like heart disease, high blood pressure, gallstones, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers. Also, the higher your percentage of fat (and the smaller your percentage of muscle) the less calories you need to maintain your weight and therefore the easier it is to gain weight. This is because muscle is more metabolically active than fat tissue.
Body Fat Percentages and Lean Muscle Mass
When in ideal shape, body fat will make up about 15% - 18% of a male's body
weight and 18% - 22% of a female's. The remainder of the body's 'lean weight'
is composed of water (55%-60%), muscle and other lean tissue (10%-20%), and
bone and minerals (6%-8%). In other words, a 150-pound woman who is within or
close to her ideal body fat composition range at 22% will have approximately
33 pounds of fat, 86 pounds of weight composed primarily of water, 20 pounds
of muscle and other lean tissue, and 11 pounds of bone and mineral weight.
This total then makes up her total weight of 150 lbs.
Now take the example of another woman who weights 150 pounds, but has 30%
fat on her body. She would have 45 pounds of fat on her body, and the rest of
her weight would be divided among muscle, bone and water. Her non fat body
composition might look like this, 79 pounds of water (53%), 17 pounds of
muscle (12%), and 9 pounds of bone and minerals (6%). Both women weight 150
lbs. and are about the same height, but one looks much different because she
has less body fat.
Body fat percentage is generally accepted as a better gauge of weight loss
progress and fitness than scale weight. The method of calculating body fat
from body measurements as used by HealthSmart Nutrition is the fourth most
accurate method. Hydrostatic testing underwater is first. Electrical testing
of body mass resistance is second and body fat measurement by caliper is
third. Although it is not the most accurate, if you record your measurements
carefully and consistently using the measurement taking instructions given,
you will have a good relative gauge of how much body fat you are gaining or
losing. To our knowledge, the
HealthKeeper software is the first program to offer this body fat percentage by measurement feature.
For higher accuracy you can override the automatic body fat measurement calculator and enter your body fat percentages done by hydrostatic testing underwater, electrostatic testing of body mass resistance or body fat percentage done by the caliper method. One product we highly recommend is the Tanita bathroom scale. It does very accurate electrostatic testing of body mass resistance to determine your body fat percentage in seconds.
The more accurate of method you use for tracking your body fat percentage the more accurately you will be able to use
the Lean Body Weight tracker.
More about Lean Body Weight
The two most important graphs and statistics you want to watch to find out if you are making true and honest progress on your weight loss diet or body building program are, body fat percentage and lean body weight. Increasing lean body weight (mostly muscle mass) is important because if you body fat is going down into your ideal range and your lean body weight is going up you will be able to eat more calories without gaining weight and, it will be easier to maintain your desired body fat percentage when you reach your goal. This is because more lean body weight (composed of increased muscle mass) raises the body's basal metabolic rate
(BMR) and the calories your body burns even when you are doing nothing.
If you body fat is going down to your ideal range and your lean body weight is going up you should be absolutely ecstatic. You have attained two of the three holy grails of honest and lasting weight loss. (The third is keeping within your ideal body fat range for 3-5 years after getting there.)
In spite of lean body weight being such a vital statistic to honest weight loss, the Performance Diet is the only program and software we know that tracks it. (To track you lean body weight make sure you have used one of the 4 methods of body fat tracking and your body percentage is entered in your Personal Profile. Then go to the Graphing mode and select the correct date range and Lean Body Weight from among the various graphing options.)
The lean body weight tracking we use is based upon your current weight and the following formula. From your current weight calculate the number of pounds that is equal to your current percentage of fat. (That is the number of pounds of fat on your body.) The remaining percentage of your weight is your non-fat lean body weight. This is composed of muscle and other lean tissue, water, bone, blood and minerals. Over an extended period of time (even considering periodic water retention,) the levels of water, bone, blood and minerals remain fairly constant.