One of the first tests that is done when people join fancy gyms is the body composition analysis i.e. determine how much of their body weight is fat, how much is lean mass (muscle, bone etc.) and how much is water and their weight.
There are SO many different methods of doing this from hydrodensitometry (underwater weighing) to more technologically advanced and expensive methods like bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA), Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) and Whole Body Gamma Counter (WBD) to more basic methods like skin-fold measurements and Body Mass Index (BMI) calculations.
The problem with these tests are there are statistically significant flaws in virtually all of them.
- The convinent and basic methods are terribly inaccurate. BIA, BMI and skin-fold methods can show numbers that are anywhere from 5 to 30% away from the real number.
- The methods are the most accurate are really awkward (like hydrostatic weighing) or way too expensive (like DEXA and WBD).
- And guess what? None of these numbers really matter for the general fitness enthusiast or athlete unless they are at the elite level. If you want to lose fat, the best plan is to eat right and train wisely. Knowing your body fat percentage, BMI, or daily weight won't help you progress, rather it often encourages obsessive behavior, guilt, and burn out from the plan.
What should you pay attention to? If you want to use measurements, I recomend getting a tape measurer and measure your thigh, waist, hips, chest, and arms for your start level. Then measure these ONLY once a month as you begin your healthy eating and active new lifestyle. If you really must look at the scale, only weigh yourself once a week at the same time, same conditions but don't let this number dictate your emotions.
What do I think is the best body fat testing apparatus? It is a complex piece of equipment and it provides you with exactly the answer you need to help you get healthy. It's called a mirror. Take a look, see how your clothes fit, or check out what is jiggly (that's fat) and go from there....
Save your money and sanity. Check yourself out in the mirror once a week. You’ll be able to tell if you’re gaining or losing fat and where.