How to measure body fat – An article about my DEXA body scan experience

How to measure body fat – An article about my DEXA body scan experience

Hello Fit Friends!

Can I ask you a personal question? 

How often do you weigh yourself?  I generally step on scales once a week.  I keep track of my weight so that I can learn how my body responds to certain foods and exercises.  When feeling particularly enthused, I use a measuring tape and take photos to record my progress.

After all – If you don’t track your progress, how else will you know if you are heading in the right direction in achieving your dream body?

Stepping on a scale only gives you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity.  That’s it.  It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, possibility, strength, love or character.

Why I decided to ditch the scales and measure my body fat

To be honest, I did it completely out of curiosity!  I was training hard and eating super clean in preparation for my wedding in 2012.  I was the leanest I had ever been in my life and wanted a record of my progress.

Around this time I also started lifting weights.  I believed I was gaining muscle and just wanted to know how much of my body was muscle and how much was body fat.

Muscle takes up less space than fat in the human body.  The more muscle you have, the more toned overall you will look.

Recommended Body Fat Percentages

(According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000)









Very High



20 – 39

5 – 20

21 – 33

34 – 38

Above 38


40 – 59

5 – 22

21 – 34

35 – 40

Above 40


60 – 79

5 – 23

24 – 36

37 – 41

Above 41


20 – 39

5 – 7

8 – 20

21 – 25

Above 24


40 – 59

5 – 10

11 – 21

22 – 27

Above 27


60 – 79

5 – 12

13 – 25

26 – 30

Above 30

What is a DEXA?

Most scales measure your overall weight (which includes the weight of your bones, blood, muscles and water).

A DEXA is a full body scan x-ray which shows you the composition of your body and highlights which parts are:-

  • Fat
  • Muscle
  • Bone

The procedure took 10 minutes and all I had to do was lie down on a table (fully clothed) and let the machine do its stuff…

 These were my results


How silly do my eye sockets look?! Haha!


I learnt that on 20 July 2012:-

My body fat was 16.2% (crazy low!)

  1. My skeleton weighed 2.5kg (see blue)
  2. My fat weighed 9.2kg (see yellow)
  3. My muscle weighed 45.6kg (see red)
  4. The fat in my head weighed 815g (must be my chubby cheeks!)
  5. My legs are pretty symmetrical
  6. My left arm is fattier than my right arm

Interesting stuff huh?  I just bet  this info will come in useful one day!

Last year my body fat was super low because I was very strict with my diet and training like a maniac.  I wouldn’t want to get that low again because for me, a low body fat percentage equals crazy mood swings.  Eek!  World watch out!

The best part about the DEXA report was that it told me:-

My resting metabolic rate was 1560 calories a day.

My suggested calorie intake of 1700 should be broken down into the following macronutrients:

Protein Carbohydrate Fat
149 grams 149 grams 57 grams

No method of measuring body fat is completely accurate.  However if you are consistent in using the same method, it should be a fairly reliable way of evaluating your progress.

Never underestimate the power of measuring and recording your results.  It is a good estimate on whether you are one step closer to achieving your dream body!

For those that are interested, this is where I had my body fat measured:

Until next time – stay happy and healthy!

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