How To Measure Body Fat Percentage

Photo of author
Last Updated On

There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission on anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

When you first try to lose weight you hear about all kinds of new things. It can be a bit confusing when you first start out. Chances are you’ve hear of something called “body fat percentage”. What is it exactly and how do you measure it?

What is body fat percentage exactly

Body fat percentage is how much of your bodyweight is due to fat. So let’s say you weigh 100 and 20 of that is fat. Then your body fat percentage is 20%.

This way of measuring is much more useful than only weighing yourself. Your weight is influenced by a lot of different things. This makes it so it isn’t always the most accurate measurement of progress.

For example, the amount of water you drink influences your weight.

Body fat percentage is pretty much the best way to measure fat loss progress. The downside is that it’s harder to measure accurately.

Rules you need to keep in mind

There are a lot of different methods you can use to measure body fat percentage but there are a few things you absolutely need to keep in mind when using all of them.

1. Never compare measurements from different methods

It’s not uncommon that the body fat percentage measurements differ between devices, even if you measure at the same moment.

The real goal here is to find out whether your current routine is helping you come closer to your weight loss goals.

To get a realistic view of how much you are progressing or degressing you need to use the same device.

2. Try to keep your hydration the same for each measurement

How hydrated your body is influences the measurements with some methods. This can really mess up your numbers so you want to avoid this.

The easiest way to keep this pretty much the same is by doing your measurements first thing in the morning when you wake up. You will have 8 hours of not drinking or eating anything with water in it.

hydration when measuring body fat percentage

Ways to measure your body fat percentage

There are a lot of different ways to measure your body fat percentage. Each way has its own advantages and disadvantages.

We’ll go over the three most convenient measurement methods to use at home.

Skinfold Calipers

Skinfold calipers measure the amount of fat beneath your skin at a few key locations. The areas measured vary between men and women.

Here is video that shows you how to measure body fat percentage with skinfold calipers.

Calipers are a cheap method that can get an accurate measurement if you know how to do it right. The downside is that you will have to spend some time to learn to use them.

Circumference Measurements

Measuring circumference might sound like a more primitive method to estimate body fat percentage. While it’s true that this method doesn’t give you a perfect percentage, it is a great way to see how much you are progressing in your fat loss journey.

The big advantage is that it’s very easy to do. Who doesn’t have a measuring tape laying around?

Circumference measurement device

Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)

It may sound like something complicated but it’s one of the more easy to use methods.

BIA is basically sending harmless electric currents through your body. These electric currents have a different speed going through fat than through things like muscle. That’s how the device can estimate what your body fat percentage is.

The advantage of bioelectrical impedance analysis devices is that they are available to everyone at decent prices and they are very easy to use.

The disadvantages are that fluids can influence the measurements a lot. There are more expensive methods that are more accurate but this is a great method to start off with.


Body fat percentage is the number one measurement to look at when trying to get in shape.

There are devices available to consumers but you can’t forget that even those devices are not perfect.

Also, one bad measurement is not the end of your weight loss journey. Weight loss plateaus happen all the time. Just take another look at your lifestyle and what improvements you could make.

Photo of author


Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.