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electronic fat tester accuracy?

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    electronic fat tester accuracy?


    How accurate are these usually? There is one at my Xsport Fitness gym I go to and I used it about a year and a half ago and tested low 7% range body fat, and I have gotten much bigger and stronger since then, probably about 20 lbs heavier, improved my diet drastically, etc, and I tested 12.2% the other day. I know I have put on a little fat but I don't think I nearly doubled, my abs still clearly show and I never eat cheat meals etc. Should I take that test with a grain of salt? Also has anybody purchased any fat testing calipers online that are accurate? I know they make some electronic ones that are nice, I think I saw one for $29.99 on nutraplanet.

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    They are terrible, one said I was 17 percent BF and im more around 8-9 at all times...
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    Quote Originally Posted by illgixxer View Post
    How accurate are these usually? There is one at my Xsport Fitness gym I go to and I used it about a year and a half ago and tested low 7% range body fat, and I have gotten much bigger and stronger since then, probably about 20 lbs heavier, improved my diet drastically, etc, and I tested 12.2% the other day. I know I have put on a little fat but I don't think I nearly doubled, my abs still clearly show and I never eat cheat meals etc. Should I take that test with a grain of salt? Also has anybody purchased any fat testing calipers online that are accurate? I know they make some electronic ones that are nice, I think I saw one for $29.99 on nutraplanet.
    Unless you are one of the rare few that has even fat distribution on the right/left sides or upper/lower body, then BMI and electronic bodyfat testers are the most INaccurate method that you can use to measure body composition and are usually out by up to 10% bodyfat.

    The most accurate way to measure body composition is to have at least 6-8 skinfolds done by a qualified and experienced ISAK anthropometrist. They use calipers, but not the ones that you purchase and take your abdominal skinfold or something as such.

    Anything you use to measure body composition, aside from underwater weighing should just be used as an estimation and taken as a guide re progress, as opposed to what you actually are. And as you get to know what your body looks like at different body compositions you will be able to tell approximately what you are by simply looking in the mirror.


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    Good info Rosie, and I had posted a BF percentage thread in training section that shows pics of the various BF percentages on a person...
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    good post rosie, like always lol but ya those electronic ones are soo false. it said i was 25% BF and im around 12 or 13
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    Quote Originally Posted by gamer2be08 View Post
    ...I had posted a BF percentage thread in training section that shows pics of the various BF percentages on a person...
    Do bear in mind that different body compositions ARE going to look DIFFERENT on each individual, depending on their gender (because they have higher essential bodyfat stores, although a female may have the SAME skinfolds as a male her body composition is always going to be ~3% BF higher than the male's one), height (this is a biggie; a shorter person is never going to look as lean as a taller person even at the same body composition), weight (a heavier individual with more muscle is always going to look more defined than someone lighter of the same body composition), and a small part re genetics (i.e. some people may be able to see their abs better, etc.).

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    this is fairly interesting. so should i even bother checking my fat percentage anymore at the gym? i like doing it to kill a minute while pre-wo kicks in, but should i take it seriously by any means? last reading i remember was ~10%, and i am pretty lean.
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    They are hardly accurate, and depending on how much water you are retaining, pretty much just a guide. With that said, if you can test your self at the same time, like first thing am, it will tell you if you if you are losing bf if you track it and average it over the course of several weeks. Though your % will more than likely be totally wrong, you can use it as a guide if you are dropping Body fat. remember, consistent time and conditions play a big role in how accurate it will be in tracking just like trying to use it for just bf%.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nynone View Post
    this is fairly interesting. so should i even bother checking my fat percentage anymore at the gym? i like doing it to kill a minute while pre-wo kicks in, but should i take it seriously by any means? last reading i remember was ~10%, and i am pretty lean.
    Using it at the gym would provide an inaccurate estimation, especially if you're dressed and either train NOT first thing in the morning, or check it after training. At best it could only be used to gauge your progress, if you were wearing the same thing and in a similar condition re temperature, hydration, prior eating, and training each time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guejsn View Post
    Using it at the gym would provide an inaccurate estimation, especially if you're dressed and either train NOT first thing in the morning, or check it after training. At best it could only be used to gauge your progress, if you were wearing the same thing and in a similar condition re temperature, hydration, prior eating, and training each time.

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    ok, that's basically what i needed to know. my diet has fulctuated recently, but i guess once i get it nailed again, it will be a bit more accurate when i go. i didn't know clothes had much to do with it either, oh well. i always do it before training, and roughly around mid afternoon (but consistently). hmmm... good to know, thanks Rosie!
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    Get yourself some calipers and do anywhere from a 3-9 point test, I have a link on my home computer that I will post that you can plug in all your numbers and get something more accurate then the hand held electronic crap at the gym
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayts22 View Post
    Get yourself some calipers and do anywhere from a 3-9 point test, I have a link on my home computer that I will post that you can plug in all your numbers and get something more accurate then the hand held electronic crap at the gym
    If you do this then don't do it yourself; get someone ELSE to take your skinfolds. And if you want to be more accurate then you need to use the ISAK method; otherwise you can be as inaccurate as using the electronic body composition methods. And note that ONE skinfold at each site is NOT going to give you an accurate estimation either.

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    so just out of curiostity, as i've been wondering this the past week or so now... how do the electronic ones at the gym work? and why do my trainers rely on them so much? lol
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    Electronic bodyfat testers, like the ones where you stand on a scale or hold two handles, correlate bodyfat with a pre-programmed algorithm based on changes in electrical characteristics (i.e. conductivity, capacitance, or impedance).

    These algorithms are usually going to be correlated with some data from a sample skinfold tests. The skinfold calipers are the best method, given feasibility vs. accuracy. Skinfold tests aren't particularly accurate, either, as there's a lot of operator skill involved. Factors, such as sample size and operator skill play a huge role in how effective these algorithms work.... naturally, they're not very good.

    Truthfully, I still can't quite grasp the concept of this measurement. It serves absolutely no purpose, other than providing a number for one to rattle off. It's like an alternative to bragging how much you can bench press, or perhaps something to settle for if that number isn't so impressive. As Guesjn mentioned, let the mirror be your guide; after all, your goal usually isn't for some silly machine to give you a number, it's to be thin and in shape.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nynone View Post
    so just out of curiostity, as i've been wondering this the past week or so now... how do the electronic ones at the gym work? and why do my trainers rely on them so much? lol
    The scales that you step on send an electronic pulse through the lower half of your body, whilst the handheld ones send an electronic pulse through one side of your body. Both 'measure' the water balance in your body for their 'results. Hence you can see how inaccurate this is, given that almost no one carries the same amount of fat on either their upper or lower body or on both sides of their body, and how hydration and anything that affects it can cause significant changes in readings.

    Many trainers (and others) use them so much because they are cheap, quick, and easy to use, regardless of how accurate they are. To do a PROPER ISAK skinfold test, even with JUST skinfolds (so to get a body composition measurement) takes at LEAST 10 minutes and the scales and handheld devices take seconds.


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    hmmm, very interesting. thanks again guys!... and girl lol. this place is too good to me. answers to my thought provoking questions while i'm bored at work :P
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    The Bioelectrical Impedance method of measuring body composition isn't extremely inaccurate and can have too many variables that can cause inaccurate fluctuations. Previous posts are correct about electronic "pulses" being sent through you body, and calculated based on what the pulse is "going through" or around. (Example: bones, muscles, fat, water, etc..) One of the many problems with this can be the effects of potassium/sodium imbalances in muscles tissue based on diet or training, water retention or dehydration, etc. However a pro-argument of bioelectrical impedance is that it is more accurate that WHR (waist /hip ratio) or the really, really old Metropolitan Height / Weight Chart. You remember, the one that says if you're 6"00" you should weigh __ this much. That was created in 1943 to determine longevity for Life Insurance
    Skin calipers can be fairly accurate but again as stated above these are only as good as the individuals performing the test. I've tested people with 3 site, 5 site and 7 site measurements. Obviously, a 7 site measurement, all other variables being the same, is going to be the most accurate. But this really does take practice. Lots and lots of practice. So ask your trainer or whoever is performing the test, how many times they have performed this test, and where they trained?
    In my opinion, the most accurate way to determine body composition is either by Hydrostatic Weighing, or Computed Axial Tomography. Unfortunately, both methods can be very expensive. A CAT scan is a fairly common machine in hospitals and doctor's offices, however good luck trying to find a technician to perform this to determine your body fat. Hydrostatic weighing is another excellent method, which I've found to be consistently accurate time and time again, however there is the issue with finding a lab, university, etc. who will perform this.
    If you can, call around to some of the Exercise Physiology departments at your local universities. Surprisingly, graduate and sometimes undergraduate students need to fulfill course requirements and are required to perform these tests a certain number of times to show proficiency. Another option might be to find sport specific labs or sometimes elite performance rehab centers have these machines. Or lastly (off the top of my head), if you live anywhere near Denver or Colorado Springs, the Olympic Training Facility I know has everything needed to perform both tests. Sometimes they have interns who need the testing experience for a Physiology, or Kinesiology degree.
    Sorry that turned out to be such a long reply, I just kept going!
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveydoodle View Post
    The Bioelectrical Impedance method of measuring body composition isn't extremely inaccurate and can have too many variables that can cause inaccurate fluctuations. Previous posts are correct about electronic "pulses" being sent through you body, and calculated based on what the pulse is "going through" or around. (Example: bones, muscles, fat, water, etc..) One of the many problems with this can be the effects of potassium/sodium imbalances in muscles tissue based on diet or training, water retention or dehydration, etc. However a pro-argument of bioelectrical impedance is that it is more accurate that WHR (waist /hip ratio) or the really, really old Metropolitan Height / Weight Chart. You remember, the one that says if you're 6"00" you should weigh __ this much. That was created in 1943 to determine longevity for Life Insurance
    Skin calipers can be fairly accurate but again as stated above these are only as good as the individuals performing the test. I've tested people with 3 site, 5 site and 7 site measurements. Obviously, a 7 site measurement, all other variables being the same, is going to be the most accurate. But this really does take practice. Lots and lots of practice. So ask your trainer or whoever is performing the test, how many times they have performed this test, and where they trained?
    In my opinion, the most accurate way to determine body composition is either by Hydrostatic Weighing, or Computed Axial Tomography. Unfortunately, both methods can be very expensive. A CAT scan is a fairly common machine in hospitals and doctor's offices, however good luck trying to find a technician to perform this to determine your body fat. Hydrostatic weighing is another excellent method, which I've found to be consistently accurate time and time again, however there is the issue with finding a lab, university, etc. who will perform this.
    If you can, call around to some of the Exercise Physiology departments at your local universities. Surprisingly, graduate and sometimes undergraduate students need to fulfill course requirements and are required to perform these tests a certain number of times to show proficiency. Another option might be to find sport specific labs or sometimes elite performance rehab centers have these machines. Or lastly (off the top of my head), if you live anywhere near Denver or Colorado Springs, the Olympic Training Facility I know has everything needed to perform both tests. Sometimes they have interns who need the testing experience for a Physiology, or Kinesiology degree.
    Sorry that turned out to be such a long reply, I just kept going!

    The first sentence in your post contradicts itself. Did you mean to say "is" where you typed "isn't"?

    The height/weight charts, reading in Body Mass Index, are (in my opinion) still quite useful. I would agree that they serve no justice for body composition, as my BMI is 28.5 and I can see my abs. It does explain stresses on the knees and ankles, though.
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    No, I said it IS NOT extremely accurate and then I listed reasons as to why I think that this method IS NOT as accurate as others. Sorry for the confusion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveydoodle View Post
    No, I said it IS NOT extremely accurate and then I listed reasons as to why I think that this method IS NOT as accurate as others. Sorry for the confusion.
    is not inaccurate is a double negative

    Either way, we're clear now. Good stuff.
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    I couldn't figure out why you thought I meant "is" versus "isn't"....now I get it. Sorry, I used inaccurate versus accurate. Sorry about that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guejsn View Post
    If you do this then don't do it yourself; get someone ELSE to take your skinfolds. And if you want to be more accurate then you need to use the ISAK method; otherwise you can be as inaccurate as using the electronic body composition methods. And note that ONE skinfold at each site is NOT going to give you an accurate estimation either.

    ~Rosie
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    Agreed, having someone else do it will help, and try your best to always use the same spot...the real benefit of this method is tracking progress, your total bf% may not be accurate but if you take consistant readings in the same spot your will certainly be able to get an idea of how much you have lost
  

  
 

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