How can I tell how much of my weight is muscle and how much is fat?

I am almost 18, I am 4’ 11” and weigh 115 pounds. my BMI is 23.2. If that helps any :p

Answer #1

By measuring your Body Mass Index. Your BMI compared to your height will give the percent of fat in your body.

Answer #2

Sorry DrBill, but BMI gives no reliable information whatsoever about the ratio of muscle to body fat.

Answer #3

You can buy body-fold callipers, or an electronic body-fat scale. I purchased a scale like this, where you enter your height, gender and age, and then you stand on it. It calculates your weight, body-fat percentage, lean muscle-mass, among other things. They are fairly inexpensive these days, but I question their accuracy, as they tend to say my body-fat is 5% higher than it actually is. See a doctor or personal trainer and get them to do the tests for you… They’re the most reliable!

Answer #4

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Answer #5

Dr. Bill: That is plain wrong. BMI gives you an idea about whether your mass (muscle plus fat) is near the average for your height or not. BMI will be high for obese people but BMI will also be high for people with a lot of muscle mass. For example body builders who hardly have any fat will have high BMI.

Answer #6

Hi. My trainer told me that some of the the inexpensive body-fat scales often have a hard programmed average fat-muscle ratio and do not even measure your personal ratio. It will simply measure your weight and estimate your fat-muscle ratio based on your other data. Which is extremely unprecise. So before you buy any such scale, you should make sure that it is one that actually measures your body fat ratio.

Answer #7

Yeah that was the experience I had. Luckily, I knew that my body-fat percentage was nothing like what it said and then the factory sent me one that was pretty accurate. The best measurements are those made by doctors and professional personal trainers I reckon.

Answer #8

All methods of determining body composition are estimates based on statistics. The only accurate method to determine body composition is for your entire body to be subjected to chemical analysis which is not covered by insurance or Obamacare. In general skin fold calipers are the most accurate method for athletically lean subjects while underwater weighing is more accurate for less lean subjects. “Body fat” scales use a technique called bioelectrical impedance to estimate body composition. Not terribly accurate but better than a haphazard underwater weighing or an unskilled skin fold measurement. It is certainly good enough to see if you are moving in the right direction with your fitness. One year that I hit the gym particularly hard I was dismayed to have only lost 3 lbs that year. My waist size did go down 2” and I wore a size smaller shirt but the number on the scales hardly budged. Skin fold testing showed that I built 18 lbs of muscle that year which would mean I lost about 20 lbs of fat which would be about right for the amount my waist and shirt size went down.

Answer #9

BMI is one of the worst health statistics. Note that the formula for BMI is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Ignoring all the other shortcomings (not accounting for bone density or amount of muscle) it ignores the fact that we are not 2 dimensional. Dividing by our weight squared would be reasonable if we were traced out on paper but since we also have depth it would be more accurate to divide by height cubed. Because it uses the wrong power in the denominator BMI is only reasonable for people around average height. For short individuals BMI is very generous while for tall individuals it often suggests impossibly low weights and the farther in either direction the less useful it becomes.

Answer #10

@fillet. Even ignoring your typo: “ Dividing by our weight squared…” instead of “dividing by our HEIGHT squared …”; your assumption regarding the power of attached to the height is fatally flawed in practice. Your analysis assumes that tall people are just scaled up versions of small people. In practice, at least for the overwhelming majority of people, the genes that code for a tall person also tend to code for a slender build, whereas the genes that code for a small person tend to result in a more stocky build. This results in (for example) tall thin Zulus and basketball players, and short stocky Pigmys and dwarfs. Believe me: I made the same mistake myself but researched it by using genuine statistical data and found that plotting BMI against height across a broad range of typical adult statures for medically fit and healthy people gives a near horizontal line centered around BMI = 22.5 (where BMI is defined as used in practice), whereas plotting (weight/height cubed) vs height - again for medically fit and healthy people at optimal build - gives a steep downwards gradient, that would be useless as a rule of thumb guide upon which to base quick clinical decisions and to allow guidance regarding weight management strategies to be advised by using easily grasped numerological methods.

Answer #11

You can tell by simply standing naked in front of a mirror and seeing how immensely fat you are.

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