How do you best measure body fat?

Most people understand that weight is not a good indicator of fitness. It’s the composition of that weight that matters. Measuring body fat percentage can help you separate your lean mass from those extra pounds.

While there are many different ways to measure body fat, some methods are more reliable than others.

Here are the top 4 methods for measuring body composition

Skin Fold Test

Calipers measure the skinfold thickness on various areas of your body. These measurements are put into a formula to estimate total body fat percentage, based on an estimation of how fat is distributed throughout the body.

A good pair of calipers are expensive and it takes a skilled person to pinch your fat for you. Results can also vary from administrator to administrator.

Bio-Electric Impedance

Bio-Electric Impedance is used some scales to determine body fat. This method sends a small current through your entire body to measure total body water. It makes assumptions about hydration levels and the water content of various tissues to calculate your body fat percentage.

There is a test protocol too: No drinking or eating within 4 hours of the test, no exercise within 12 hours, no alcohol consumption within 48 hours, and you must urinate within 30 minutes of the test.


Electrical Impedance Myography (EIM)

EIM accurately measures body fat with results closely comparing to the gold standard DEXA scan. Measurements are taken on four muscle groups to get a total body reading of your fat percentage. It also measures fat percentage on individual areas of the body to help you understand where your fat is located.

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)

Two x-ray beams at differing energy levels pass through the tissues of the body. Fat, muscle and bone each have different attenuating factors, i.e. different levels of absorption due to their unique densities. It is these attenuating factors that allow the DEXA to calculate relative masses of each tissue type in each region (trunk, arms, legs).

Its hard to know which method might be right for you. Here’s a comparison chart showing the most popular methods


Accuracy Invasiveness Cost Available at Mr Vitamins
Skin Fold Test xxx xxx x YES
Bio Impedance xxx x x YES
DEXA xxxxx xx xxxxx NO
Electrical Impedance Myography (EIM) xxxxx xxx x YES


Although quantifying your body fat percentage is very useful for determining your progress, a much more relevant indicator or progress is how you feel about yourself and how much energy you feel you have.

Richard Taylor Weight Loss Consultant and Personal Trainer


Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor

Richard is a certified Personal Trainer with a strong background in competitive team sports and athletics. He believes that exercise should be enjoyed and social, which is the approach he takes with his clients. Richard specialises in exercise for weight loss. He is available for 1-on-1 Personal Training, Small Group Training and Corporate Personal Training in the Lower North Shore area. Book a FREE fat loss consultation to discover what he can do for your health.