What labs implement for body composition measurement is the four-compartment model in which DEXA scans are used to measure bone, fat, protein and water weight separately.
That's as accurate as you can get but regular DEXA scans are beyond the reach of us common folks.
I'm a sucker for semi-naked pictures of people with legitmiate DEXA scan results, such proclivities have sharpened my eye-ball game tremendously. Let me get this out right away, the best way to gauge
personal progress or estimating bf% is eyeballing yourself naked in front of a mirror!
I'll throw some more valid reasoning at you to substantiate this claim.
Based on our glycogen storage/carb intake we tend to hold as much as 5 to 20 lbs of water all the time. Bigger you are more water you hold. This is the reason why everyone loses 5 to 10 lbs in two to three days on a Low-Carb diet by simply flushing out the water. The water weight comes back just as quickly, load up on carbs and it'll soak up all the water back, that's the reason why bodybuilders do a Dry-carb-load. How many of you know that even our fat cells hold water? More on this will come later.
This, large shifting of water weight fools every bf% estimating system except DEXA and our EYES. While we’re training and manipulating Carbs on a daily basis, the visible differences of Leaning out and filling in are quite apparent, a knack for estimating progress develops naturally. Who knows our bodies better than ourselves, after all? We know our stubborn areas, our lean parts and such. We also tend to store body fat disproportionally, some of us store more fat in the belly, some in thighs and hips, and some got tires/love handles aka lower back and abdomen fat, and some got bat wings (triceps fat). these areas generally consist of stubborn fat cells which are first to fill and last to vacate. Stubborn fat is a very interesting topic requiring a few articles for elucidation.
Only the most genetically gifted have an even fat distribution and they look decent even when carrying a substantial amount of fat, they'll look like they are at 15% bf when they actually are above 20%. by the looks of his upper body he's at 15-17% but DEXA measures him at 22.2%! Stubborn lower body fat is the culprit here.
On the other hand is a guy with less ideal genetics who has worked really hard for a lean and muscular upper body, some veins running down the shoulder and arms but DEXA gives a value of 18% body fat. What’s happening? Well, he's got fat thighs and butt that doesn't seem to budge on any amount of cardio plus calorie restriction. If he pushes too hard, his muscle mass will be compromised and his hormonal profile will go whacky, working against him, counter-productive to his goals. It's a slippery slope after that, unless you know what you’re doing. The Fat Loss section has solution for every such predicament.
Now, unless he starts using Anabolics and fat-burning-stacks he has to make truce with "18%bf" when actually he looks like a 10% with pants on! point being, bf% is just a number don't obsess over it. Visual differences are immense even when comparing various people at same body fat percentage depending upon muscularity, density, muscle insertions and bellies, the position of superficial veins relative to the skin, thickness of the skin and so on.
representation of visual differances at same bf % level. That being said, I'll provide you some of the most accurate and less-heard of visual pointers to estimate your body fat percentage with remarkable accuracy in the next part.
Check out Part 1 & Part 3 of this Series!
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