If I had my way every home in America would throw away their scales and buy a body fat composition kit. True it tells you how much fat you have on your body (a relatively useless piece of information) but it is also the ONLY way for you to know how much of your weight is non fat or lean mass. Once you have that critical piece of information you can compute a realistic weight goal then design an exercise and nutrition program that fits your body.
In order to get that pounds of lean mass number I've assessed body fat on over 15,000 people in the past 10 years. Originally I used hydrostatic weighing. Now I use skin fold and girth measurements exclusively. You'll read that hydrostatic weighing is the most accurate way to get a body fat measurement. It's not always the case. It's very difficult to get a client to comply with a "test" that requires you to empty your lungs by exhaling fully, submerge your entire body in a tank of water and stay there until a technician can get a reading. Moreover, unless the technician is experienced it's difficult to read the scale accurately. So, though skin fold and girth measurements assess only subcutaneous fat--an obvious disadvantage in assuring accuracy--I believe the advantages of being able to do a useable self assessment far outweigh any disadvantage in terms of statistical accuracy..
Most home body composition assessment kits give you a useful process for determining if your at a suitable goal for your age. I disagree with the premise of age related body fat. I believe that the healthy amount of fat we carry on our body has more to do with our genes than anything. Good research supports that the body strives to be a certain body fat and though we can drive it lower or let it go higher, if we exercise moderately and eat healthfully, our body fat will seek its own level.
Nevertheless there are some useful guidelines. Once you reach these ranges you're not as predisposed to disease as you are when they're much higher or much lower than "normal" ranges. Here are the ones I suggest.
|Caucasian||15-18 %||22-25 %|
|African American||12-15 %||19-22 %|
|Asian||15-18 %||25-28 %|
|10K Runner||10-12%||16-18 %|
|Marathoner||5-8 %||9-12 %|
The African American body genetically has harder, denser bones than those of other races. Dense bones can drive a body fat reading lower than others, giving a sense of good health when it might not be there. Likewise, Oriental cultures, especially first generation Oriental Americans, tend to have less dense bones. Obviously marathon runners are going to drive their body fat levels lower due to metabolism and conditioning, while sumo wrestlers will have higher body fat levels. That doesn't mean they are better or worse than "average". That adage that athletes are born not made makes sense when you start looking at the "average" body fat levels of athletes that practice different sports.
O. K. Once you know your body fat percentage "then what?"
Multiply the percent of fat times your total body weight. The result will be the pounds of fat you carry. To find your pounds of non body fat, subtract that result from your actual weight. You'll learn how many pounds of lean mass you have.
Next determine a suitable body fat goal for yourself using the numbers in the chart above as a guide. If you're young, strive for the lower end of the range. If you're over 50 and not fit, strive for the higher end of the range--to start.
Subtract that chosen goal from 100. Divide the result into the pounds of lean mass. The result of that computation will be a realistic weight goal. R E A L I S T I C. Most folks balk. I hear, "but that's too much weight" or "I want to weigh what I weighed in high school and it was much lower than that result."
Give it up!! This computation is based on your lean body mass. To weigh less you would have to lose lean mass--that valuable part of your body that burns calories--that burns fat calories when you are exercising moderately.
Wanna fight about it? Come to a Lifestyles seminar. I'll muster my ammunition and inspire you to use our secrets to get fit fast!!!
Special offer: Ronda has teamed with exercise physiologists Frank Katch, Ph.D. and Victor Katch, Ph.D. and created, THE SCALE COMPANION-How to Find Your Ideal Weight . This home body composition kit is the least expensive and most accurate way to calculate your ideal weight --anytime-- in the privacy of your home.
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