Body Composition Guide

Body composition is a physical fitness term that encompasses a human’s percentage of fat, water, bones, and muscles. Ultimately, a composition determines the leanness and appearance of a body. 

The differences in the weight and mass differences of fat and muscle tissue, two people of the same gender and weight may look a couple of sizes different. Measuring your body composition is a task a bit harder than only using a measuring tape. Body composition estimates are made via a variety of scientific and technological approaches, including body density equations, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, air displacement plethysmography, and body volume indicator technology. 

Why Is Body Composition Important? 

Learning the details of your body composition gives you a better outlook on your health goals and fitness approach. Knowing how much of your body is fat makes you see a clear picture of how healthy you are and what you should target. 

What about BMI? 

You have probably heard of BMI (body mass index) and stick to its guidelines. Measuring body mass to height is an old-fashioned way that doesn’t highlight the real body image. As there is no indication whether the changes come in fat or muscles, people often find training programs ineffective as they see no changes on the scales. At the same time, body composition measurements would tell that the body has changed a lot. Besides, increasing muscle tissue and lowering fat make you slimmer and healthier. 

Whatever your goals are, understanding your composition is advantageous. 

Understanding Body Fat 

The percentage of body fat is an accurate representation of a human’s physique and health. This is the actual weight of your body fat. You may be surprised that even slim people may have a relatively high percentage if they don’t lead an active lifestyle. 

Regular training helps to decrease fat percentage. Athletes are always not only better tones but have little to no fat whatsoever, especially men. Due to natural reasons, women are programmed to carry more fat, which is closely connected to their reproductive functions. 

According to the American Council of Exercise, healthy body fat percentage measures are the following: 

Athletes: Men – 6-13%, Women – 14-20%

Fitness: Men – 14-17%, Women – 21-24%

Regular: Men – 18-24%, Women – 25-31%. 

Everything above the regular norm is considered obese and requires trainings to reduce the percentage. 

Measuring Body Fat Percentage at Home 

There are two main ways to measure your body percentage while at home. The rest of the technologies are available at hospitals and specialized clinics. 

Calipers

One of the easiest ways to determine your fat percentage at home is by skinfold calipers. By pinching at a subcutaneous fat layer and measuring it with a special caliper, you get a rough estimation of your total fat based on that layer. Such calipers are easy to find and cheap to buy on Amazon, eBay, and in your closest sports shop. Be sure to place the caliper at around ¼” from the fingers! 

Where to take measurements? 

  • back and front of an arm (triceps and biceps)
  • shoulder blade 
  • waist 

Caliper body fat percentage chart

Scales

This approach requires a specialized scale that you can for the home as well. This piece of equipment used bioelectrical impedance analysis to measure fat percentage. The principle behind it lies in fat’s conductivity. It is lower than the conductivity of water and muscle. 

As you stand on them, an electrical current passes through you (completely safe and pain-free). The more resistance the current meets, the higher is fat percentage. The scales also take into account your height, weight, age, and gender to apply the programmed equation. 

How to Lower Body Fat

Lowering body fat is done through a combined effort of a proper diet and exercising. The general recommendations include: 

  • at least 150 minutes of exercising a week 
  • a rich diet with whole fruits and none junk products 
  • strength training two days a week 
  • consult a dietician 

Healthy Food 

The first component of improving your body composition is to keep to a healthy diet. Nutrition plays a significant role in training your body and just having a healthy lifestyle. 

Though nobody likes counting calories, this is a sure way to lose some weight. Keeping a calorie deficit will sure burn that fat mass of your body. However, be careful not to burn your muscle alongside! 

Processed food is the bane of your fat! Basically, everything that we like so much, burgers, ice cream, pizza, and sweets are not the best influence on our bodies. The ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fat is a major factor as well. Protein helps us to gain muscle. Thus, this component should prevail in your diet during exercising. Besides, your body burns more fat while working on protein than on fat and carbs. 

Surprisingly, the research shows that less than 5% of U.S. citizens eat enough fiber while it is vital to our nutrition. 

With all this in mind, let’s switch to another body fat percentage women recommendation – to physical exercises that will help you on your way to a toned body. 

Cardio and Weight Training 

Cardio burns fat fast and effectively. However, running is not that effective alone! Weight exercises both help to lose weight and build muscles. The studies have found that weight exercising along with aerobics during the weeks significantly improves the results. Strength training has multiple benefits when it comes to burning dangerous fat that surrounds belly organs. Besides, building muscles increases the number of calories you burn while at rest. Preserve those muscles instead of burning them away with non-stop aerobics. 

Sleep More

We have bad news for those who’ve decided to live in a gym to burn fat! Proper rest and sleep are just as important as training and healthy dieting! 

Sleeping those full eight hours prevents weight gain and helps you to burn fat. Poor sleep patterns are closely connected to alterations in hunger hormones and, as a result, higher fat percentage. 

High-quality sleep is that sweet part of burning fat. Enjoy it! 

About

Irene’s fitness journey began in 2017 with attending classes to improve her health and researching the anatomy of working out. After years of investigating trendy and “up and coming” fitness regimes, she is ready to share the tips and advice she’s learned from athletes and expert trainers of the field.