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Physiology Fundamentals: Back To Basics.

Estimating body fat percentage and calculating Lean Body Weight. Part 1.

Check out Part 2 & Part 3 of this Series!

Here I'll talk about various kinds of masses we refer to in physiology and how to measure them accurately while knowing the meaningful distinction between them.
Everyone is familiar with scale weight I'm sure, we stand on the scale to get our Weights displayed to us. Technically, Weight = Mass x gravitational acceleration constant (G) but as all the weighing is meant to be done on Earth (where G is constant with a value of 9.81m/s2) we can do without that distinction. So, yeah. weight = mass for our intent and purpose.

Funny how mainstream sources say it's weight when we're dealing with weight of the Whole body but say it's mass when they're referring to the weight of Fat and Lean tissue separately. I just mentioned it so that nerds don't get confused by the popular terminology.
So, from here on I'll call your whole body weight, the weight you get on a scale as (BW). the total Fat you're carrying as fat weight (FW) and your Lean body weight(LBW) that is the weight of your muscles, internal vital organs, bones, connective tissue, blood, water and glycogen, skin...nails...well EVERYTHING except Fat.

I hate to tell people to put 2 and 2 together but just for comprehensiveness: BW = FW + LBW. now we need to figure out how to calculate FW and LBW, it's quite simple really with the body fat % figure, the real obstacle lies in correctly estimating the bf%. say you're an 180 lbs guy with 20% body fat, so the amount of fat you're carrying is FW= 180 x .20 = 36lbs and hence your LBW is 180-36 = 144 lbs.

A quick Google search will show you a lot of websites addressing this with formulae, pictorial guides and trying to sell you various portable gadgets working on impedance and them good ol' Calipers. Guess what, they all are significantly inaccurate and cumbersome. Formulae don't work unless used by a Caliper expert on you and those "picture charts" are hilariously inaccurate(one shown below), they usually have photos lifted from various bodybuilding forums with self-reported numbers. inaccurate body fat percentage pictorial chart these three in the lower left are all around 40% bf, the one with "25-29%" is actually 20-ish, the upper two with "5-9% & 10-14%" are more like 10-12% and the other two are both in the 15-18% range.

Don't get your hopes too high, though, because even the methods deemed as"Gold standards" of measuring body fat% are just “Estimates” and have plenty margin of errors. The underwater hydrostatic weighing, for example, suffers from the slightest inclusion of air in your lungs and intestines and your hydration levels. Even more absurd is the fact that it's based on the assumption of LBW being of a certain constant density in everyone. Recent research shows that not only various ethnicities have different densities but also weight changes in an individual can result in fluctuations in both LBW and FW density.


I kind of new this from the start, getting HARD is not only Colloquial, after all, think of an Olympic weightlifter vs an entertainment "wrestler". the density difference of the musculature is rather apparent and miles apart.
brock lesner, an etertainment wrestler showing off his lean but puffy(less dense) physiquelu xiaojun, an Olympic champion weightlifter with ultra hard(dense) physique
this got me thinking what's up with "racial slurs" like blacks don't crack / cracker ass cracker whiteys?

The sole purpose any bf% measurement method serves is to estimate progress, right? seeing those numbers go down every week while on a training program catering to fat loss. Well, even if you happen to have a "hydrostatic body composition analysis" center near and you're ready to pay them a hefty fee every time you visit there for drowning you down and keeping you there till you're outta breath; all you will get is a number which has +/- 5% accuracy.

The next part deals with real Gold standards of Body Fat % estimation along with the unique visual markers for judging personal progress.

Check out Part 2 & Part 3 of this Series!

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