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Subcutaneous fat making me overestimate BF%?

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  • Subcutaneous fat making me overestimate BF%?

    I've been wondering for a while now if my lean body mass is higher than I believe and I could never afford the only ways to accurately measure BF% (Bod Pod, etc.) Instead, I have simply compared myself to photos of others on The reason I wonder is because I don't know if my hunger is caused by my caloric deficit being too low for my LBM, or if it's just a natural part of dieting. I've just read up on subcutaneous fat vs. visceral fat. Since exercise burns primarily visceral fat, I can probably assume I have very little visceral fat. Combined with my unconfirmed suspicion that I've built more muscle than I want to believe (which would push subcutaneous fat further out), I've been wondering if it's possible to look fatter than I really am. If so, should I adjust my nutrition accordingly.

    In anticipation of expected responses, I'm going to state that I am one of those people who can not listen to my body. Even if I believed that this method is universally applicable, I have too many factors in my life that can skew my body's signals.

  • #2
    I did a lot of research on different methods, and what I found was the the individual variation in body fat distribution means that no matter what method is used, there are inaccuracies that mean any single measurement is at best an estimate. Body fat measurement is only accurate in the aggregate.

    I bought a pair of calipers and just check one site to see if I am trending toward gaining or losing etc.


    • #3
      If you are really interested in an accurate BF% reading, you'll probably have to pay for it. Most of the cheap methods are approximations, and so the best you can do is monitor the trending of it. This means you have to measure at the same time of day in the same conditions every time. It might not give you an accurate reading, but you'll be able to see a trend as you track it over time.

      You can get a rough guess with just a measuring tape, and some of the military (Army/Navy) body fat calculators.


      • #4
        I think that once you are below about 15%, the best way for a male to determine BF is on the level of vascularity. You can find a lot of good resources online for barometer, based on getting it done professionally (I work in medicine, easier), is to to pay attention to my veins.

        Arms and legs only, cubing of abdominals = 8%
        Visible veins on stomach, lower abdomen = 6%

        Any higher means work harder. Any lower means pump the brakes. Simple enough. I wouldn't worry about cutting cals too much unless you are at the 7% or below range. If you lift heavy, eat smart, keep a constant protein source to your muscles, you will have done all you can to muscle spare. My 2c. Good luck
        "The soul that does not attempt flight; does not notice its chains."


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies, but I gave up on trying to accurately measure BF%. I was only asking out of curiosity if a someone at a certain BF% (say 20%) can look very different based on the different ways that fat can be made of (subcutaneous vs visceral vs mixture of the two).


          • #6
            Hi atmetal,

            Yes you can look different. For instance if you have a lot of muscle, you will look much different than someone who has no muscle but has the same percentage of body fat. Height will also determine your appearance. Remember, your talking percentage. So, 20% on a 200 lb person is twice as many pounds of fat as 20% on a 100 pound person.


            • #7
              And all those things being equal...?

              If two people of the same gender had the same muscle mass, height, and everything else unrelated to the type of fat stored, how would they compare based on type of fat composition? I read on so many articles talking about how skinny people can still be unhealthy due to hidden visceral fat. This implies that their BF% is higher than their body size would indicate. Sooo, does that mean that someone with a lot of subcutaneous fat (and little visceral) can have a lower BF% than would be indicated by their body size?