Determine Your Fat: Muscle Ratio
MUSCLE looks a lot better than fat. Aside from the aesthetic factor, muscle is your ultimate weapon to fight fat.
Well-toned and healthy muscle make the body’s metabolic furnace that continually burns calories, whether you are awake and working, sitting down and watching TV or sleeping. Muscle is active tissue whereas fat just sits idly on the body.
This is where the misconception about weight loss begins; the majority of people want to lose weight simply because they weigh more than they should. The total body weight is not just fat. Losing weight is very easy the real challenge lies in losing fat and keeping it off.
By dehydrating yourself and using natural diuretics, you can easily lose 15 pounds in a period of three days; however, you also easily gain back what you lost within days!
Measuring and Testing for Body Fat
The importance of determining body fat and muscle weight instead of simply body weight enables you to monitor progress correctly. Fat loss and muscle gain is the correct program you want and measuring body fat and body composition is the proper way to gauge your success.
Average and Ideal Levels of Body Fat
Average body fat generally varies between males and females. Women normally have approximately 5% more body fat than men because of the female hormone estrogen. The average female has about 23% body fat and the average male approximately 17%.
The percentage of body fat for non-athletes is around 10-14% for men and 1620% for women. These ideal body fat levels are realistic and easily maintained. Even lower levels than the ideal of 10-14% for men and 16-20% for women will definitely result in better muscle definition.
High levels of body fat are associated with health problems but it is nearly impossible to lower body fat levels to zero since the body needs essential fat to function normally. Essential fat performs a number of duties such as energy storage and protection of internal organs.
Methods of Measuring Body Composition
There are several methods to measure body composition. The traditional weighing scale, tape measure and mirror are all helpful they are not enough.
What we are after is to have an objective, accurate and scientific method of measuring progress in order to determine success towards achievement of a healthier lifestyle. For our purpose, we will use the skinfold testing method in order to track progress.
Skinfold testing is practical and easy to perform. It is based on the fact that the human body stores fat directly in a subcutaneous manner while the remainders of body fats are either internal or intramuscular fat.
Measuring subcutaneous fat you by “pinching” folds of skin and fat at several locations provide accurate estimates of overall fat. The skinfold test is performed using a simple, vice-like instrument the skinfold calliper.
There are different brands of callipers on the market with costs ranging from $150.00 to $450.00.
Look for one that allows you to perform your own testing and measurements.
Although you can have your body fat test done by experienced professionals, it is always better to be able to do it on your own in the privacy of your home. At least, you can tell right away if your fat percentage is decreasing because your skinfold thickness decreases proportionally.
With the callipers, skin folds are taken at several sites around the body and then the sum of the skin folds is added up. The sum of the skin folds is cross-referenced on a percent fat estimate chart that comes with each manufacture’s caliper.
However, there are computerized calipers that automatically add up the skin folds and perform the calculations for you.
Most body fat formulas require you to measure body fat at three different locations. Likewise, different formulas may utilize as few as one or as many as eleven skin folds; the measurement results of any number of these sites can be used in various combinations to determine body fat. The standard skinfold sites are usually the abdominal, suprailliac (hip), bicep, tricep, chest, sub scapular (back), thigh, axilla and calf areas.
Body fat measurements from skin fold data from one to four sites give you a very accurate estimate of overall body fat. Taking measurements from at least three sites is also proven sufficient for an accurate reading.
Accuracy and Reliability
Due to its simplicity, there are those who criticize Skinfold Testing as inaccurate especially when compared to more high tech methods. Skinfold test performed correctly by a skilled and experienced person, are as accurate as any other body fat measurement.
To ensure reliability, have the same person perform the test on you using the same formula and caliper every time. Reliability and consistency are more important than the accuracy of measurements. Generally, skinfold tests have a margin of error of ±3%.
Fat Weight and Muscle Mass (Mm) Calculations
You need to determine your body fat percentage as a progress monitoring tool. Your percent fat measurement helps you separate your total body weight into pounds of fat and pounds of muscle.
Muscle mass (Mm) is the total weight of all your body tissues excluding fat.
Keeping track of your Mm tells you if you’ve lost or gained muscle.
To arrive at your Mm, you need to know your bodyweight and body fat percentage. To find out how many pounds of fat you are carrying, multiply your body fat percentage by your weight and then subtract the pounds of fat from your total body weight.
Body Weight = 200 pounds
Body Fat Percentage = 18% (.18)
Body Weight x Body Fat % = 200 x .18 = 36
Mm = Body Weight – (Body Weight x Body Fat %) = 200 – 36 = 164 pounds
Determining Ideal Weight
You can determine your ideal weight if you know your current body fat and the body fat level you want to reach.
To determine your ideal body weight, you need to know the following:
desired body fat percentage
body fat percentage
To determine your ideal weight, divide your current muscle mass by the percentage of muscle mass at your target body fat percentage level. The formula is:
Current Muscle Mass ÷ Desired Body Fat %
Total Weight (pounds) 200
Body Fat (%) ………………………….(.18)
Fat Weight (pounds). 36
Muscle Mass (pounds). 160
Target Body Fat (%)…………………(.12)
Subtract desired body fat from 1 to determine % of Mm at your Target Body Fat
%: 1 -.12 = .88
Divide current Mm (160) by percentage of muscle mass at target body fat percentage to yield ideal weight: 160 ÷ .88 = 181.81
Your ideal weight at 12% body fat is 181.81 pounds.
In using this formula, you have to make some consideration for water weight. The higher your total body weight and the greater the amount of fat you have to lose means you will lose more water weight.