If you’re reading this, it’s because you want to know what your body fat percentage is.
And that means you’re probably searching to find the most accurate way to measure it, or calculate it, or test for it. Right?
Which means you’ve probably already come across at least one of the following options:
- Scales and handheld devices that use bioelectrical impedance (BIA).
- Skinfold testing with calipers.
- Online calculators.
- Hydrostatic weighing.
- Bod Pod.
- DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry).
Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s something you should know about every single one of these…
The Problem With All Body Fat Percentage Measurements
None of the methods we have for measuring body fat percentage – not even the fancy expensive ones – are perfectly accurate. In fact, they’re all capable of being significantly inaccurate.
This inaccuracy has been seen in plenty of studies (sources here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), both in terms of each method’s ability to give you a body fat measurement right now, as well as tracking changes to your body fat percentage over time.
How does this inaccuracy manifest in the real world, you ask? Well…
- Certain methods could tell you you’re 8% higher or lower than you really are. For example, your body fat scale might say you’re 20% but you could actually be 12% or 28%.
- Or tell you that you gained fat when you actually lost fat. Or lost fat when you actually gained fat.
- Or tell you that you lost muscle when you actually gained/maintained muscle. Or gained/maintained muscle when you lost some.
- Or tell you that your fat loss and/or muscle building progress over time is a lot better or a lot worse than it actually is.
Simply put, even the supposed “best” methods are far from being perfectly accurate, and every method is less accurate than most people realize.
The Bad News
So, what does all of this mean for getting that perfectly accurate measurement we all want?
The reality of body fat percentage measurement is that unless you let someone kill you, dissect you, and weigh out everything, there is unfortunately no way to get a perfectly accurate measurement.
(Disclaimer: Please don’t let anyone kill and dissect you. If anyone tries it, don’t fall for it!! You’re being attacked!! Run!!)
The Good News
But hey, I do have some good news.
We don’t actually need a “perfectly accurate” measurement of our body fat percentage. Instead, all we really need is a pretty good estimate. And THAT’S something we can find.
Which brings us to the next obvious question…
How Do I Get A “Pretty Good Estimate” Of My Body Fat Percentage
For starters, I don’t recommend wasting your time or money on any of the methods listed earlier.
I don’t like any of them, and I especially hate scales. Despite being one of the easiest, cheapest, most convenient, and most common methods people use to find their body fat percentage, it’s typically the least accurate.
With all of this in mind, there are only two methods that I’ve recommended to people for the last decade, and they are the only two methods I continue to recommend…
Method #1: Get A Visual Estimate From A Knowledgeable And Experienced Coach
This method entails finding someone (typically a coach) who knows their stuff and has a lot of experience visually estimating body fat percentage for people. Then, send them a few pictures and let them give you an estimate.
Pretty simple and easy.
This is something I’ve done for hundreds of my coaching clients over the years (and I’ve had hundreds more ask me to do this for them via email as well).
It can be a fantastic option.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find someone who fits this “knowledgeable and experienced” description. The diet and fitness world is overflowing with the complete opposite.
And yes, this include coaches and trainers. A significant percentage of them suck at what they do.
But, if you are able to find one of the good ones, go for it! The one downside here is that it will usually require paying them for coaching/training, which can be expensive if all you’re really interested in is your body fat percentage.
Which brings us to method #2.
Method #2: Do Your Own Visual Estimate By Comparing Yourself To Accurate Examples
This method entails finding accurate examples to use as reference for what various body fat percentages look like, comparing yourself to them, and doing your own visual estimate.
It’s quick, simple, easy, convenient, private, inexpensive, and can be done over and over again at no additional cost.
Is it perfectly accurate?
Nope, because no method can be perfectly accurate. That’s just not possible without killing and dissecting you (and again, please try to avoid being killed and dissected).
A better question is, is this method capable of giving you the “pretty good estimate” you truly need?
Yes it is!
And is it likely to be just as accurate, if not more so, than every other method of body fat measurement is capable of being?
Of course, every method has its downsides, and this one is no different…
The Problems With This Method
If you go searching for pictures of what different body fat percentages look like, most of what you’ll find for this purpose will suck in terms of accuracy.
Trust me, I’ve looked, and some are just laughable.
Luckily, there are a few sets of pictures like this that are actually decent in terms of accuracy. The thing is, there are two major problems I’ve seen people have with those pictures over the years that prevents them from being as useful as they should be.
These two problems are:
- They only show a tiny portion of the person’s body.
Like literally just the stomach. No legs. No hips. No arms. No chest. No anything else. This is problematic, because it means you won’t know what body fat storage looks like across the rest of the body.
- Everyone is always extremely muscular.
The men and women shown in these pictures are typically well above-average in terms of how much muscle mass they have. This is great if you’re equally as muscular as these examples, but if you’re not, it makes it impossible to accurately compare.
So while some of the pictures out there can be useful enough for estimating your body fat percentage, they’re never as useful as they could be.
That’s why I decided to create a better option…
Introducing: The Body Fat Percentage Picture Guide
I’ve just put together a brand new guide that solves all of these problems.
It’s called The Body Fat Percentage Picture Guide.
Here’s Why It’s Better…
- First, ALL of the pictures in this guide show the entire body, so you’ll be able to see how fat is stored everywhere. Stomach, chest, arms, thighs, shoulders, and more.
- Second, the pictures in this guide show examples that have different amounts of muscle. You’ll see examples with very little muscle, examples with an average amount of muscle, and examples with a lot of muscle. That means you’ll see pictures that closely match what your own body looks like, regardless of whether you’re lean, skinny, skinny-fat, muscular, overweight, or obese.
Here’s What’s Included…
- Men’s Version
- Women’s Version
- 70+ pictures showing you accurate, full body examples of what each body fat percentage looks like, so you can easily compare your own body and see where you’re at.
- Examples with very little muscle.
- Examples with an average amount of muscle.
- Examples with a lot of muscle.
- Examples that are lean, skinny, skinny-fat, muscular, overweight, obese, and everywhere in between.
- Build Muscle, Lose Fat, or Recomp?
- Starting, Ending, And Switching Phases
- Muscle Building Phase: Quick Start Guide
- Fat Loss Phase: Quick Start Guide
- Recomp Phase: Quick Start Guide
You can learn all about it right here: The Body Fat Percentage Picture Guide
Summing It Up
Like I’ve been saying from the beginning, there is no perfectly accurate way to find your body fat percentage.
All we have are a few different methods for helping us come up with a pretty good estimate, and most of those methods are either significantly inaccurate, or expensive, or inconvenient, or embarassing.
Or all of the above.
The Body Fat Percentage Picture Guide is my answer to all of the questions I get about this topic, and my way of providing you with a better option for getting the estimate you need.
Feel free to check it out.