Monday, September 13, 2010

Measuring your health

Are you currently on a diet, or planning to start one? Most people who try to drop a few pounds are obsessed with measurements. They check their calorie intake, waistline and weight. This is all fine, but do they have a meaningful plan to ensure proper progress? I think they don’t.

There was a fantastic article on this subject in a trade journal I sometimes skim through; Chemical Engineering Progress (August issue). If you are interested, you can read the article for yourself. However, here are the take-away points:

Monitor your fat percentage, not weight alone. Aim for a loss of one-half percentage point per week for sustained and sustainable fat-loss.

Also plan for a 500-calorie energy deficit; make sure you take in less calories than you burn each day. A difference of 500 calories should be efficient (and result in approximately one-half percentage point drop per week in fat percentage).

How do you measure fat percentage? There are several machines available, but for a quick estimate, you can compute it from measuring your height, waistline and neckline and combine all of that in a formula:

For men: F=86.01 x log (WC – NC) – 70.04 x log (H) + 36.74

For women: F=163.205 x log (WC + HC – NC) – 97.68 x log (H) – 78.387

  • WC = waist circumferance (in)
  • HC = hips circumferance (in)
  • NC = neck circumferance (in)
  • H = height (inches)

Aim for 1/4 inch accuracy. Good luck!

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