Thursday, June 28, 2007

Body Fat

Current Weight: 221 lbs.
Body Fat: 29.2%
No Change Today

Your weight is only a measurement of your mass, a fundamental measure of the amount of matter, times the acceleration of gravity. Since we calculate the acceleration of gravity on Earth as 1g, anything times 1 is itself, and your weight is the same as your mass. But that doesn't tell the whole story.

A useful measurement that gives a more overall picture is the Body Mass Index (BMI). The National Heart, Lungs, and Blood Institute has an easy to use BMI calculator available. While this can be helpful, it only takes height and weight into account.

A more useful measurement when you are trying to lose weight is your Body Fat percentage. Typically someone who wants to lose weight actually wants to lose fat. And in the process of losing fat, through exercise, they may gain muscle mass. Muscle mass is more dense, and therefor weighs more, than fat, so one can actually gain weight while losing fat. However, muscle requires more calories than fat, so if you increase your muscle mass, it will be easier to lose, and maintain, a long-term fat loss.

There are multiple ways to measure your Body Fat percentage. From lowest to highest accuracy: circumference measuring, home body fat scales, skinfold calipers, and hydrostatic weighing. Scales, while quick, easy, and inexpensive, use Bioelectrical Impedance method of measuring by sending a low-level electrical current through your body. For a more accurate reading you cannot eat for 4 hours before measuring yourself, and shouldn't exercise for 12 hours prior to measuring, so the best time to measure yourself is just after you wake up.

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