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How To Interpret Your Body Fat Test

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How To Interpret Your Body Fat Test
Written by Calvin Sun

Body fat testing is a great way to have an accurate metric for your body composition. There are many ways of getting your body fat tested, but most experts will agree that the DEXA (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scan is the most accurate testing technology available. Hydrostatic weighing was touted as the gold standard for many years, however, hydrostatic weighing is not able to account for bone density. As a result, hydrostatic tests tend to underestimate body fat in athletic individuals with high bone density and overestimate in older adults who have low bone density. These tests can provide a lot of useful data but many of our clients aren’t sure how to make use of the information.

Most people are rarely excited with their baseline body fat test. Keep in mind that your body fat percentage should be viewed as a metric in the same way that your total cholesterol or liver enzyme values are metrics of your health. It’s a data point we can track over time… not a measure of your self-worth. You can see how lifestyle, diet, supplements, medications, aging, and other factors can begin to affect your health. If you have a body composition goal, it can also be useful to have this data point tested again to validate whatever training and nutrition strategy you may be using. However, when it comes to aesthetics, I’d argue how you look and feel is probably far more important than a number on a sheet of paper.

That being said, most people want to know more about where they stand and there are various sources for helping you interpret body fat percentages. One of the most commonly referenced charts is from the American Council on Exercise. You’ve probably seen this as a poster or laminated card on a personal trainer’s desk at your local Globo Gym.

 

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You’ll notice that women will have a higher body fat percentages at any level compared to men due to biological differences. While the ACE chart is an easy quick reference, it doesn’t account for age and the use of the word “obese” may be a bit extreme in some cases.

Another useful chart is sourced from the research of Dr. Andrew Jackson and M.L. Pollock. I prefer this chart over the ACE chart as it accounts for both gender differences AND age differences. Simply find your age category in the left hand column of your respective gender, and then look across to see where you fall in your age group.

 

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Body fat percentage is only one metric that people tend to fixate on a little too much. Body fat testing provides another very important number: lean body mass (LBM). Your LBM is simply your body fat subtracted from your total body weight. LBM includes organs, bones, muscle, and everything else in your body besides body fat. Typically, changes in LBM are primarily from increases or decreases in muscle mass. Changes in bone density can affect your LBM as well, however a DEXA scan will be able to differentiate between the two. Usually, this is listed as Bone Mineral Content (BMC) on a DEXA report. It’s important to note that when viewing a DEXA report, LBM is calculated by adding the “Lean Tissue” and “BMC” measurements together. A hydrostatic test will give you LBM and body fat only.

If your goal is to get leaner, you need to decrease your body fat percentage while maintaining (or increasing) your LBM. It’s important to keep an eye on both numbers as you work towards your goal. For more information on the importance of maintaining LBM, read my “Training For Fat Loss” article.

Your LBM is also very useful for helping us calculate your daily nutritional requirements which we’ll discuss in a future article. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of body fat percentages and feel better about your numbers after reading this article. Feel free to post any questions you may have on our blog or Facebook page.

Published on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 | Post a comment

Congratulations Masters Athletes Moving On to the CrossFit Games!

Masters athletes Cheryl Brost and Al Police of CrossFit All-Star on Hawaii's Big Island gave their full effort and earned their way to the CrossFit Games in July!

Congratulations Masters Athletes Moving On to the CrossFit Games! Written by Nichole DeHart Some of you may be aware that the Masters Qualifiers wrapped up just one week ago. For those of you who may not follow the competitive side of CrossFit, the Qualifier weekend is a huge event for Masters athletes. Let me explain the lead up to this past Masters Qualifiers. The CrossFit Open started February 26th 2015. Workouts are released weekly for 5 weeks (a total of 5 events; one event had two components). Masters athletes (40 years of age and up) completed the same workouts as

Published on Sunday, May 3, 2015 | 7 Comments
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Why I Love LOSING Weight Loss Competitions

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Why I Love LOSING Weight Loss Competitions Written by Sea of Green Member Kathy Borkoski This January, two months after I had my first baby, I was still 25 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. The last time I seriously worked out was for the 2013 Sea of Green Regional’s Team. Yes, 2013. I knew I wanted to get back into shape. Every morning I woke up thinking today would be the day I’d start my new fitness plan, only to be derailed by every baby cry, shiny light, and milkshake I came across. And each time I took my first

Published on Thursday, April 30, 2015 | 3 Comments
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Spotlight on Invictus Member Isaac Farias

Spotlight on Invictus Member Isaac Farias

Spotlight on Invictus Member Isaac Farias Interview by Lindsey Johnson I sat down with Isaac Farias, a contender for one of the coveted spots on our Invictus Point Loma Regional team. I figured the Sea of Green needs a little more information on who these team members are since you’ll be cheering your booties off for them at Regionals! Here’s a little more info about one of our favorite and most hard working members. Lindsey: How long have you been doing CrossFit? Isaac: A year and a half…maybe two years now. I started at USD, then the program closed, and

Published on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 | 1 Comment
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Let Yourself Out of the Box Written by Bryce Smith A box is a pretty cool thing. It is a container with a flat base and sides, typically square or rectangular and having a lid. Its purpose is to hold things in. It is a pretty basic creation. For many of us, our comfort zone is the same as a box. It is a safe, familiar place; but, like a box, it can keep us confined. I am here to help you get out of your box; better yet, help you get rid of the box all together. What is holding

Published on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 | 2 Comments
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How To Stay Motivated During The Competition Season

How To Stay Motivated During The Competition Season

How To Stay Motivated During The Competition Season Written by Calvin Sun Competing in the sport of CrossFit is not recommended for the mentally uncommitted. At the competitive level, the sport is just as demanding mentally as it is physically. It can be hard to stay motivated through the hours and hours of exhausting and arduous training. Your life begins to revolve around training, recovering, eating, sleeping, and training some more. Things can get a little repetitive and motivation can begin to wane for some athletes. You might begin to question why you are putting yourself through such an experience.

Published on Monday, April 27, 2015 | Post a comment
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