How to Estimate Your Body Fat

How you feel about your body and how your clothes fit are important factors when considering your progress. But having data that you can see change over time is useful and motivating when you’re making diet changes.

Your body is composed of fat and lean body mass (LBM). Your LBM includes your lean muscle mass, blood, skin, bones, water, etc. As I talk about in Part 2 of The Art of Food Tracking, when you estimate your body fat as opposed to weighing yourself, you can see if you’ve gained or lost fat or muscle instead of whether you’ve gained total body weight.

Getting body fat estimates are easier than you may think – it just takes a little practice and inexpensive body fat calipers. You can also utilize a bioimpedance monitor, personal trainer, or other method. Yes, all these methods have varying degrees of accuracy, but as long as you do it the exact same way, at the exact same time of day, wearing the same clothes, you should be able to track any changes.

–> Learn how to measure your body fat

My Quick Tips

You’ll need to purchase a pair of skin calipers and read the instructions that come with them OR have a fitness pro do it for you (preferably the same person every time). What type of calipers you buy and where you measure depends on whether you’ll have a partner or not:

  • If you have a partner who can take your measurements, buy Slimline calipers. You will measure four locations (bicep, tricep, subscapular, and suprailiac). Have the same partner take your measurements each week.
  • If you will be doing your own measurements, buy Accu-Measure calipers. You will measure one location (suprailiac (hip)).

Remember, consistent results over time are more important than precise accuracy. For example, if your body fat goes from 25% to 23% over four weeks, the decrease is more relevant than whether your body fat is exactly 23% or 22%.

This article originally appeared on


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