I covered why BMI isn’t a great metric for accurate body fat measurement. So then, what IS a good way to measure body fat? How about the Navy Seal formula for body composition? How about Waist-to-Hip ratio? Both are great metrics that can give you insight into your current body health.
You can do these in 3 easy steps with materials you should have laying around around your house. LET’S GET TO IT!
Gather Materials Needed
- A soft tape measure like this one
- A piece of string
- A metal tape measure like this one
When people say they want to lose “weight”, they usually mean they want to lose “fat”. Our goal weight should be based on losing fat mass and maintaining or gaining lean mass (through strength training exercises). Essential fat mass is required for normal body function. Non-essential fats are mainly triglycerides stored around vital organs, within muscle tissue and beneath skin. Lean mass is tissue, water, muscle, bone and internal organs.
Step 1 – Measure Your Neck
Measure the circumference of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. Write this number down, this is your neck measurement.
Step 2 – Measure Your Waist
Measure at the thinnest part between last rib and iliac crest, usually just above belly button. Write this number down, this is your waist measurement.
Step 3 – Measure Your Hips
Lastly, measure at your widest part around your buttocks. Write this number down, this is your hip measurement.
Using the calculator below, which uses the Navy Seal formula for body composition, you can compute your body fat percentage (aka body composition). Also I have used your waist and hip measurements to compute WHR, or waist-to-hip ratio.
Body Fat Percentage Ranges
|Obese||Over 32%||Over 25%|
Waist To Hip Ratio Ranges
Body Composition Calculator
|Body Fat %|
|Body Fat (pounds)|
|Lean Body Mass %|
|Lean Body Mass (pounds)|
Desired Body Fat Percentage Calculator
|Desired Goal Body Fat %
(from reference chart above))
|Goal Body Weight (pounds)|
So what now?
Take a look at where you fall in the chart above. Decide what this means to you (how does it feel? does it motivate you?). No matter what, realize that these numbers do matter. Your body fat percentage is an indicator of how much fat vs lean muscle you have and is MUCH more useful number than your BMI (Body Mass Index). Your WHR is directly linked to health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic disorders because carrying fat around your abdomen is much more dangerous than fat spread over your entire body.
If you are carrying a lot of extra fat, this is hard on your joints, back, and can be an indicator of how your health will progress as you age. A lack of musculature puts an increased strain on joints, tendons, and wears away cartilage. Fat is controlled by diet and muscle mass naturally reduces with age, but can be slowed down by doing regular strength training.
Your body fat number can be a key metric in first, being honest with yourself about where you stand on your health journey. Remember, you aren’t alone with the worldwide obesity crises AND also recognize that quick fixes don’t exist and diets don’t work. Second, a healthy body is not a destination but instead a HAPPY life journey!
We tend to think about deprivation when we think about trying to reduce our body fat. We think about the food we can’t eat and the difficulty with starting an exercise program. We neglect to realize how POSITIVE and PROUD we feel after a good workout and how small steps lead to positive feelings and momentum towards a healthy life and mindset.
Take positive steps today. Stack your habits and feel the momentum start to build. Then come back and run the calculator again to see the impact on your body fat.