Why Body Fat Testing is so Important

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/25/2007 | Health

One of the most overlooked aspects of any diet and fitness program is getting proper body fat testing assessments. This goes far beyond just looking at a weight scale and checking out how much you weigh. You want to know that all that weight you lost is from fat and taking the time to get regular body fat tests done will definitely help you make faster progress towards you goal.

If you're on a weight loss program and have dropped some pounds, how do you know that the loss is from losing fat. The three main components of weight changes come from water, muscle and fat. So which one, or combination of the three, caused the weight loss. If you have regular body fat tests done, then you would know what kind of weight was lost.

Here is a key point. If you want to be successful in your weight management or fitness goals, then do what successful fitness people do. All the successful dieters and fitness pro's will take measurements, track their results and adjust it accordingly to keep progressing towards their personal goal. If the results of a test show that a total of 15 pounds of body weight was lost, a few calculations will break down what component (water, muscle, or fat) had the majority of the weight change.

Here is an example to clarify how body fat testing and your weight loss goal goes hand in hand.

It's the first week of your diet and fitness program and you want to make sure that you start it correctly. The local fitness center does physical assessments and body fat testing, so off to the gym you go to get checked and see where your levels are at. Six weeks later committing to a good diet and fitness program has resulted in a 15 pound weight loss. Now it's time for another assessment to see the hard facts on how you're progressing.

The results of the assessment will show how much of that 15 pounds was fat. Generally, if only 1 to 4 pounds of weight loss is water and muscle but the rest was fat, then the diet and fitness program is a success and you should continue on the program you're on. If only 5 pounds of weight from the 15 is fat according to the body fat test, then there is a problem with the diet or fitness program you're on. It would be wise to make some changes as this perhaps indicates that some dehydration or muscle wasting may be occurring. Continuing with the same program may cause a problem with your health if followed too long. In this case, a change in your program and another assessment 4 to 6 weeks later will determine if the new program is getting better results in fat loss instead of water or muscle loss.

If you are truly committed to lose fat and achieve good health and fitness, then you need to distinguish between just overall weight loss and true fat loss. As you continue your weight loss program, each body fat test gives you the chance to make small changes in diet or exercise routines to see if the next assessment produces better results. Not only does this get you closer to what the ideal program is for you, but it also helps keep you focused on staying with the program and not give up or quit. You will stay motivated by trying to better the last assessment.

Now that we see the importance of body fat testing, your first step is to decide if you want a professional assessment person to test you, or if you want to learn to do it yourself. There are advantages and disadvantages to each decision.

A professional body fat tester can usually be found in most fitness centers and gyms. They have the experience, knowledge and tools to make accurate tests and can suggest a course of action to improve the results of the next test. It takes on the average of about 15 to 30 minutes to complete and you will get a copy of the test to keep. The cost can range between twenty to fifty dollars per test and should be done every 4 to 6 weeks. Some disadvantages are the costs to having it done, searching out a qualified assessment professional and perhaps the slight embarrassment you may feel to have test done.

If you decide to do the test yourself, you will need to learn how to take proper body fat measurements, purchase the tools or equipment for accurate assessments and keep testing many times in order to learn how to do it correctly. An advantage to do your own test is that you can have the privacy and convenience of testing as many times and often as you want in your own home.

Most people will want someone else to do it because of the learning curve involved to take accurate assessments. Another valid reason is to have the option of some suggestions by the professional on what you can do tweak your current program and make solid improvements for the next test.

Now that you know the importance of body fat testing, you should do a little research and get more details on how to incorporate it into your program. This just may be the key ingredient for you to make real progress towards your weight loss and fitness goal.