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Is Body Fat Percentage Important?

I am not a big fan of measuring body fat percentage and never have been. Why?

No one really cares about how low your body fat percentage is or what it was at one time. Really, they don't.

Where you store body fat is as important to your health as how much you store. A raw number won't tell you that, or how your hormones are causing fat to be stored in certain areas. Visceral fat is much more dangerous to your health than butt and leg fat.

In any type of athletic endeavor, no one cares about body fat percentage. They care about performance. Although, most sports or physical tasks reward leanness, and punish you for excess baggage.

Unless you are getting a complicated and expensive test like a DEXA scan, water submersion tank test, or air displacement test, you aren't getting an accurate number anyway.

A body fat percentage number means a lot less than how you feel when you look in a mirror and how your clothes fit.

Because your body fat percentage will vary widely depending upon who measures it and what method is used.

Most methods of bodyfat testing don't take into account the bone density of the test subject. Strong and athletic people typically have higher bone density than average. This is a significant portion of a person's total body mass. Unless the test somehow factors this in, we are just shooting in the dark (only the DEXA scan can measure this).

Because it can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with a number on a paper. So what if you were 6% body fat at one time! Did you really feel your strongest and your best at that point?

Things like how your clothes are fitting, athletic performance, how you look and feel, measurements like hip-to-waist ratio, and your sanity are much more important.

For an athlete, a good way to measure is to pinch the fat on your cheek, just above your jaw. Now, pinch the fat on your gut. If the fold of skin is bigger on your gut than your cheek, you might need to drop a little. If it is less or the same, you're fine.

-Jim


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