6 Reasons Why body composition testing with pinch calipers is so inaccurate
On a test base of nearly 1,000 tests so far this year, at least 200 of our test clients have indicated that they had recently had their body fat percentage measured by a personal trainer using pinch calipers.
Pinch calipers are fine to gain a general idea of how much body fat you have. But, they are by no means accurate. In fact, in every single test we’ve done, the client measured between 4% and 10% points fatter in the Bod Pod than they did with calipers.
So, what exactly does that mean? If a 200 pound person has a body fat, or BMI percentage of 20% with calipers, that means they carry 40 pounds of fat. If they test in the Bod Pod at 30% body fat, that means they actually are carrying 60 pounds of body fat. A full 20 pounds more than the caliper measurement. That’s a huge miss!
Here’s why calipers are so inaccurate:
1). First and foremost, pinch calipers can only measure the layer of visceral fat that sits below the skin and above the muscle.
2). Pinch calipers can’t measure the intra-muscular fat that resides within the muscle structure. If you go to the butcher counter in your local super market and look at the ribeye steaks, you will then understand what intra-muscular fat is.
3). Worst of all, calipers can’t measure the worst kind of fat, visceral fat. Visceral fat is the type of fat that resides in the abdomen and surrounds the organs. It’s the most dangerous type of fat in terms of putting your health at risk. And, fortunately, it’s generally the first type of fat to decrease when you change your diet and exercise routine.
4). There’s another type of fat which 9 out of 10 people have never heard of. It’s called either brown fat or dark fat. Ironically, this is a healthy fat that has a favorable impact on metabolism. It largely resides in the upper middle section of your back so again, it can’t be measured with calipers.
5). The caliper test is largely subjective. It is heavily affected by both how and exactly where the trainer pinches. Plus, if you have a follow-up test, the data can easily change if the trainer doesn’t pinch in exactly the same places as he/she did in the first test.
6). Extremely heavy people simply cannot be measured with calipers.