Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Real Weight Loss Science part 2

Real Weight Loss Science part 2

When you think about fat loss, what do you think of first? Which aspects of fat loss are important, which are essential, and which ones can you take or leave? You be the judge.

Ways to Measure Body Fat %
Hydrostatic Weighing
Known as the “Gold Standard,” hydrostatic weighing is a highly accurate method of measuring body fat percentage. Tests are conducted by a trained technician who measures the volume of a person’s body in a tank of water, and then compares this to the subject’s dry weight that was measured before being dunked in the tank. Using mathematical calculations, the technician can determine the volume of fat mass to fat-free mass and accurately, usually within 1-2%, determine the subject’s body fat percentage.

Although this method is highly effective, it does require specialized equipment and trained technician to conduct the tests, and can be relatively expensive. If you can get your body fat measured at a hydrostatic weighing facility near you, do it. Otherwise, you can use one of the next two methods at home, which may be more “user-friendly”.

So far, we've uncovered some interesting facts about fat loss. You may decide that the following information is even more interesting.

Skinfold Measurement
This method uses measurements taken by a caliper (pinching tool), generally at 3 sites on the body. These numbers are then used in a simple equation to determine body fat percentage. Since men and women have different body types, men are measured at the thigh, abdomen and chest, while women are measured at the triceps, suprailiac crest (area near the hip bone) and thigh.

This method of measuring body fat percentage is the most practical of all the methods, simply because it is inexpensive and easy to do. Although it does require a basic understanding of how to pinch a skinfold and where to take the skinfold at, with minimal direction most anyone can perform skinfold measurements on another individual. You can generally get a skinfold measurement done for free at your local health club.

Bioelectrical Impedance
While it may sound complicated at first, bioelectrical impedance actually uses the simple principle that an electrical current travels at a different speed through fat mass and fat-free mass (i.e. bones, muscles, and tissues). Using an electrical body fat monitor, a small (and safe) electrical current is sent through the body, and measures how fast the electrical current moves. The current will pass quickly through fat-free mass, and slowly through fat mass. That’s where the tool gets its name: the electrical current is “impeded” when it encounters fat mass.

Many health clubs use this method of measuring body fat and you can too. Bioelectrical impedance machines, which look just like a bathroom scale, can measure both body fat and weight in just seconds. The only word of caution with this method is that the results can vary depending on the amount of water in your body when the measurement is taken. It would probably be best to take these measurements as soon as you wake up in the morning and have relieved your bladder.

Is there really any information about fat loss that is nonessential? We all see things from different angles, so something relatively insignificant to one may be crucial to another.

Sometimes it's tough to sort out all the details related to this subject, but I'm positive you'll have no trouble making sense of the information presented above.

Kevin Newman
Weight Loss

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