Food Breakdown

Click the following link to open the food tables that specifies the caloric breakdown in protein/fat/carbs of most available foods:


Click the following link to view the LIPID profiles of most available foods: Food Lipid


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Adjust your diet to ensure you lose FAT and not MUSCLE!

The next section will show you how to measure and interpret fat calipers measurements to determine whether you are loosing body fat or muscle size (Note many! make the mistake of pitching the daily calories too low and as a result loose muscle and not fat. You need to go through the process below to ensure that your body lose fat but that muscle is protected or even increase).

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This in-depth guides teaches you how to calculate your body fat percentage and measure your progress using skin fold calipers. This is the most accurate method to measure your body fat.

The following tutorial was written by Doug Lawrenson and aims to teach you how to measure your bodyfat and fat free mass using calipers. The tutorial includes detailed charts, instructions and diagrams.

Bodyfat Testing With Skinfold Calipers

The Skinfold caliper is a device which measures the thickness of a fold of your skin with its underlying layer of fat. By doing this at the key locations can be a quite accurate representative of the total amount of fat that is on your body, it is also possible to estimate the total percent of bodyfat on your body.

The diagrams show the locations of the areas for the measurements to be taken. Because of the location of the tests you will need someone who can do the measurements for you. It is important that the measurements are taken as close to the area’s shown in the diagrams for each measurement.

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How To Correctly Take Measurements

If you’re right handed, pull out the fold of skin with the underlying layer of fat with your left hand and hold it with the fingers of the left hand. Then with the calipers in your right hand, place the jaws of the calipers as shown in the diagrams below. The jaws of the calipers should be about 1/4″ (7.5mm) from the fingers of your left hand which continues to hold the fold of skin. Release the trigger of the calipers so the entire force of the jaws is on the Skinfold. Do not release the fingers of the left hand while taking the readings.

It is important to keep holding firmly the fold of skin with the fingers so that the calipers are measuring just the thickness of the fold of skin. You will notice that when you place the calipers on the Skinfold that the calipers will “creep” a little, after a few seconds the “creep” will slow down and this is the time that the measurement should be taken. You must note the reading on the scale before releasing any pressure off the calipers.

Taking Measurements & Calculating Your Percentage

Measure all four locations shown in the diagrams below and write down the readings on the calipers scale. It doesn’t matter what order you do the readings in. Add up the four readings. The % bodyfat can then be determined from the chart at the bottom of this page. You will notice one set of figures for males and one for females, make sure you use the right one!

You may also note that the charts do not have a line for every millimetre or column for every age group on the chart, to do this would make the chart very large. To get accurate figures it is necessary to interpolate. For example, a female in the 16-29 age groups could have a sum of 29mm for the four measurements. This is halfway between the 28 and 30 on the chart. The % bodyfat for 28mm is 18.6% and that for 30 is 19.5%. Interpolating halfway between would give approximately 19.0%. Another example would be a 40 year old male with a sum of 42mm for the four measurements. Referring to the chart for males we find % bodyfat listings for 40 and 45mm. 42mm is 2/5ths of the way between 40 and 45. The bodyfat for 48mm is 20.3%, and for 45mm it is 21.8%. Two fifths of the way from 20.3 to 21.8 is approximately 20.9%.

Where To Take The Measurements

Back of the arm (triceps):

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The back of the upper arm, (Triceps). This is located halfway between the shoulder and elbow joints. The fold is taken in a vertical direction directly on the centre of the back of the arm.

Front of the arm (Biceps):

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The front of the upper arm, (Biceps). This is taken exactly the same as the Triceps, Figure 1, except it is taken on the centre of the front of the upper arm.

Shoulder blade:

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Back, below the shoulder blade (subscapular). This is located just below the shoulder blade. Note that the skinfold is taken at 45 degrees angle as shown on the diagram.


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Waist (Suprailiac). This is located just above the iliac crest, the protrusion of the hip bone, a little towards the front from the side of the waist. The fold is taken approximately horizontally as shown on the diagram.


Charts To Calculate Your Bodyfat Percentage

Men’s Chart:

Chart #1 – Men
% Fat For Sum Of Measurements At All 4 Locations
Sum in mmAge 16-29Age 30-49Age 50+

Women’s Chart:

Chart #2 – Women
% Fat For Sum Of Measurements At All 4 Locations
Sum in mmAge 16-29Age 30-49Age 50+

Normal Or Ideal % Bodyfat?

What is the correct or ideal % bodyfat? This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer. Not all people have the same ideal % bodyfat. It varies with age, sex, and genetics. One person might be better at a higher or lower bodyfat than another person of the same age and six. And the desirable bodyfat of athletes can vary depending on the sport. For example, swimmers seem to perform better at a higher % bodyfat than runners. But, some general guidelines can be given that are applicable to most people.

For men:

For men up to about the age of 30, 9-15% is good, from age 30 to 50, 11-17% is a good range, and from age 50 and up, 12 to 19%. A person should try to stay at or below the upper limits given, and a person near the lower limit would be described as lean.

For women:

For women, the range up to age 30 is 14-21%, from 30-50 it is 15-23%, and from 50 up it is 16-25%. Again it is desirable to be at or below the upper limit, and a woman near the lower limit would be lean.

It should be noted that the ranges given above are not averages for the US and UK populations, but are the desirable ranges. The actual averages for the populations as a whole are much higher because of the large number of people with % bodyfat well above the upper limits of the desirable ranges.

How To Determine Muscle Loss Or Gain

As explained earlier, the measurement of muscle loss or gain is one of the most important uses of bodyfat measurements. It is very easy to determine and simply involves finding the weight of the “lean mass” by measuring % bodyfat and weight. Since muscle tissue is the component of the lean mass that can change the most, changes in the lean body weight are going to be caused mostly by changes in the weight of the muscles.

To determine the weight of the lean mass, the person must be weighed on an accurate scale. This will give the weight of the lean mass. After a period of time on a diet and/or exercise program, the measurements are repeated. Any change, up or down, of weight obtained for the lean body mass, will represent the amount of muscle lost or gained.

Male example:

For example a male weighing 210 lbs. He measures his % bodyfat and finds it is 30%. Multiplying 210 lbs x 30% gives 63 lbs, as the weight of this mans bodyfat. Subtracting 63 lbs from 210 lbs shows that his lean mass weights 147 lbs. After a month of regular exercise and a proper diet, his weight has dropped to 195 lbs. and his bodyfat to 25%. Multiplying 195 lbs. x 25% gives 49 lbs. as his bodyfat weight. Subtracting this from his 195 lb. bodyweight shows that his lean mass is 146 lbs. This shows that he has lost 1 lb. of muscle while losing 14 lbs of fat, a very good result, and means that his diet and exercise program is working very well for him.

Reviewing the basic calculations above:


Bodyfat = 30% & Bodyweight = 210 lbs

210 x .30 = 63 lbs. 210 – 63 = 147 lbs. lean body weight


Bodyfat = 25% &Bodyweight = 195 lbs

195 x .25 = 49 lbs. 195 – 49 = 146 lbs. lean body weight


147 – 146 = 1 lb. loss of lean body weight.

63 – 49 = 14 lb. loss of bodyfat.

Female example:

Another example could be a female who weights 150 lbs. and has 30% bodyfat. Multiplying her weight by her % bodyfat will show that she has 45 lbs. of bodyfat. Subtracting this from her 150 lbs. bodyweight shows that her lean mass is 105 lbs. After a month of a low calorie diet, she has lost 20 lbs. and is down to 130 lbs. measuring her % bodyfat gives 27%. Again multiplying this times her bodyweight of 130 lbs. and subtracting the result of 35 lbs. from her bodyweight shows that her lean body mass dropped to 95 lbs, a 10 lb. loss from her previous lean mass weight of 105 lbs. Bodyfat and weight measurements used to compute lean mass weight, have shown that she lost as much muscle tissue as fat and that her weight loss program is not a good one.

Reviewing the basic calculations above:


Bodyfat = 30% & Bodyweight = 150 lbs.

150 x .30 = 45 lbs. 150 – 45 = 105 lbs. lean body weight.


Bodyfat = 27% & Bodyweight = 130 lbs.

130 x .27 = 35 lbs. 130 – 35 = 95 lbs. lean body weight.


105 – 95 = 10 lbs loss of lean body weight.

45 – 35 = 10 lbs loss of bodyfat.

People who have lost muscle mass and replaced it with fat over the years due to inactivity can actually build this muscle back up and reduce fat at the same time. An example of this might be 68 year old male who weighs 155 lbs. Measurements with Skinfold caliper indicates he has 28% bodyfat. This is 43 lbs of bodyfat and 112 lbs. of lean mass. For 4 months on a regular basis he does a variety of exercises including weight lifting, combined with a very sound diet. At the end of 4 months he weights 150 lbs. and his % bodyfat has dropped to 18%. Again multiplying his 150 lb. bodyweight by his 18% bodyfat shows that his bodyfat has dropped to 27 lbs. subtracting this from his bodyweight of 150 lbs. shows that his lean mass has increased to 123 lbs. a gain of 11 lbs. In other words, he has gained back 11 lbs. of the muscle he had lost over the years, and lost 16 lbs. of fat.

Reviewing the basic calculations above:


Bodyfat = 28% & Bodyweight = 155 lbs.

155 x .28 = 43 lbs. 155 – 43 = 112 lbs. lean body weight.


Bodyfat = 18% & Bodyweight = 150 lbs.

150 x .18 = 27 lbs. 150 – 27 = 123 lbs. lean body weight.


123 – 112 = 11 lbs. gain in lean weight.

43 – 27 = 16 lbs loss of bodyfat.

How To Find a Persons Weight For a Desired % Bodyfat

If you know your present weight and % bodyfat it is possible to determine what your weight should be for any % bodyfat. This can be done by simple calculations. Firstly subtract your present % bodyfat from 100 and divide this by 100 minus the desired % bodyfat. Multiply this by the present weight and this will give you the weight for the desired % bodyfat. For example, a female 145 lb. who is now 32% bodyfat. She desires to be 21% and wants to know what she would weight if she was 21% bodyfat. Subtracting 32 from 100 she gets 68. 21 from 100 equals 79. Then, 68 divided by 79 equals 0.86. Multiply 145 lbs. x 0.86 and this will give her a desired weight of 125 lbs.

She has learned that to reduce her % bodyfat to 21%, she must lose 20 lbs. However, the above formula only works if the person reduces in such a way as not to lose muscle tissue. This can be done through adequate exercise and proper nutrition. If the weight is lost primarily through a low calories diet in a short period of time then muscle tissue will be lost, as well, and the weight for the desired % bodyfat will be correspondingly less.

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Reviewing the basic calculations above:

Present % Bodyfat = 32% ~ Desired % Bodyfat = 21% ~ Present Weight = 145 lbs.

100 – 32 = 68

100 – 21 = 79

68 ÷ 79 = 0.86

Desired Weight = 145 x 0.86 = 125 lbs.

Another example of the above is a weight trainer who is currently 200 lbs. and is 21% bodyfat and wants to get to 5% bodyfat, how much weight would he have to lose to achieve this goal?

Present Bodyfat = 21% ~ Desired Bodyfat = 5% ~ Present Weight 200 lbs.

100 – 21 = 79

100 – 5 = 95

79 ÷ 95 = 0.83

200 x 0.83 = 166

200 – 166 = 34 lbs.

So to achieve a 5% bodyfat he would have to lose 34 lb of bodyfat and should have a lean body mass of 166 lbs. By having his bodyfat done on a regular basis will enable him to see if his dieting to achieve his goal involves the loss of his hard earned lean body mass (muscle tissue).