Why You Need To Know Your Body Fat Percentage

Posted by Lauren Higgins on Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Body composition testing isn't just for the physique competitors. Find out how knowing your body fat percentage can help you reach your goals.

Why You Need To Know Your Body Fat Percentage

Close up of a woman standing on the scales in hospital
You remember our friend the scale, right? We're here to talk about our estranged - or in some cases obsessive - relationship with our old pal.

Let's start by explaining why the scale doesn't always define our physical fitness. For starters, a standard bathroom scale doesn't always factor in things like muscle mass, water weight, insufficient sleep or bloating due to irregular food items. That's why when you see day to day, or even same day, fluctuations, you shouldn't panic. Our bodies are complex pieces of machinery and are liable to go up or down a few pounds in a single day. What, did you think you were the only one? I'll give you a second to celebrate your normalcy. 

While your standard bathroom scale is a great way to track your fitness progress, it isn't the only way and not always the best way. Ever wonder why people who weigh the exact same may have polar opposite physiques? Or maybe you've been on this journey to good health more than once and you've noticed the scale hasn't budged but your favorite, "going out," jeans are hugging you in all the right places and boosting your weekend confidence. Either way, that's where body fat percentage comes in. 

If you're serious about tracking your progress, understanding your body is key. Anyone can look at the scale and decide they want to gain or lose a few pounds but what about all the information your old pal the bathroom scale isn't telling you?

Here are 3 reasons why understanding and measuring your body fat percentage can help you crush your fitness goals.

1. Understand that not all pounds are equal.
"Maybe he/she is just big boned." 
"Muscle weighs more than fat." 
Sound familiar? It is completely possible that 2 people can weigh the exact same and look completely different. Measuring your body composition not only calculates pounds of fat, but it also helps you understand what percentage of your current weight is water weight, lean muscle mass and, sometimes, even bone mass. As in, if someone took every bone in your body and dropped it on the scale, boom. The total weight of your bones. Understanding the context of your weight will help you determine whether those extra five pounds is true fat gain or the hours you've been putting in at the gym are finally paying off and generating muscle.

2. Know where to improve.
Understanding your body fat percentage will help you identify which changes you need to make to achieve a healthy body composition - decreasing overall fat mass or increasing lean muscle mass.

It's difficult to pinpoint any one ideal percentage because what's ideal for physique competitors may not be ideal for bicyclists. Talk to your doctor and personal trainer to determine what a healthy range looks like for YOU. From there, you can safely assume a cardio focused weight loss program or a strength training routine might be implemented into your fitness regimen. Sometimes a healthy blend of both helps us climb out of that plateau we sometimes find ourselves in.

3. Reduce your risk of chronic disease by understanding your body fat percentage.
Carrying too much body fat is often referred to as obesity. Alternatively, carrying too little body fat can result in poor heart health, lackluster workouts and a depletion of overall energy levels. Too high and you put yourself at risk for heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Too low and you find yourself hungry 24/7, cold and suffering from insufficient muscle recovery and eventually muscle loss. Regularly measuring your body fat percentage and total body composition will keep you ahead of the fitness curve and moving in the direction to your healthiest self.

Start taking your fitness tracking to the next level.
Become more in tune with YOU. 

Relying on our old friend, the scale, doesn't always paint a full picture of our health. Assigning too much weight to the number staring back at us only gives us more opportunities to compare ourselves to others without fully understanding the differentiating factors such as age, height, genetics and muscle mass that may be present.

Have you measured your body fat percentage lately? All Milestone members have access to a full body composition reading when they join. Leave us a comment below or sign up here to receive more information on membership options today. 

Topics: Health, weight loss, Wellness, Heart Disease, Personal Training, Body Composition, Body Fat