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AccuFitness Frequency Asked Questions

What are the Accu-Measure Personal Body Fat Testers made of?
Accu-Measure Personal Body Fat Testers are manufactured with Delrin, a thermoplastic polymer from DuPont. Delrin products have gained widespread recognition for performance reliability in thousands of products used worldwide in consumer goods, healthcare, transportation, appliance, industrial machinery, and electronics industries. Delrin enables our Personal Body Fat Testers to last through thousands of uses and for Accu-Measure to stand behind its accuracy, durability, and reliability with an unconditional lifetime guarantee.

Is the Accu-Measure Personal Body Fat Tester patented?
Yes. The United States Patent and Trademark office awarded the patent to Accu-Measure in 1992 for a skinfold caliper for an individual to accurately and inexpensively measure one’s own body fat. We also have patents in Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Unique, patented features include an audible and a tactile “click” when the predetermined pressure level is reached for accurate body fat measurement. The “click and feel” approach help an individual generate accurate, repeatable, and reliable results.

Aren’t electrical body fat testers more accurate?
Absolutely not. First of all, from the December 1998 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, “Validity of Self-Assessment Techniques for Estimating Percent Fat in Men and Women.” The Accu-Measure was recommended over another self-assessment device, the Futrex 1000, a near infrared device, which significantly overestimated % body fat.

The Body Logic Fat Analyzer from Omron and the Body Fat Monitor / Scale from Tanita send a low-voltage current through the body. Devices such as these measure how much body tissues impede the flow of electrical current. They do not measure actual body fat content. In a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that impedance measurements made by six different commercial instruments varied by as much as 40% from the actual impedance of a known standard. According to the New York Times, “an impedance result for someone will not accurately predict body-fat content unless it is compared with the results of people who are similar in various ways like age, weight, sex, height and athleticism and who have also been tested with some more accurate measuring tool.” Other factors affect impedance such as body positioning during testing, hydration status, recent consumption of food and beverages, ambient air and skin temperatures, and recent physical activity. The New York Times found results varied on a tester – from 16 to 27% body fat – too inconsistent for a person serious about body fat management.

Of course, you can always go to a hospital for a Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry test, but we prefer self-measurement at a lower cost, without getting zapped.

How does the Accu-Measure determine your total amount of body fat by measuring the suprailliac site?
Measuring the fat content at a particular site on your body to determine your total body fat is a matter of “sampling”. Just as a doctor can do a complete blood profile with a small sample of blood or political pollsters can predict how the entire country will vote based on a representative sample of voters, it is possible to determine total body fat from measuring the fat content at a representative site on the body. After using underwater weighing as the criterion to determine the total body fat on thousands of men and women, experts were then able to use skinfold calipers to determine particular “sample” sites where fat content correlated highest and was most representative of total body fat; the suprailliac being one of the top sites. Keep in mind that areas of the body which have the most fat aren’t necessarily the best sites to determine total body fat percentage. The best sites are those which reflect increases or decreases in proportion to increases or decreases in total body fat; thus making them a good “representative sample.”

What is the significance of the “click” and “slide” mechanisms on the Accu-Measure?
The click and slide features are designed to take any guesswork out of measuring your body fat. The click mechanism ensures that you pinch the skinfold with a consistent and uniform pressure each time you measure yourself. The slide apparatus gives you an automatic readout of your measurement by stopping at the correct measurement reading once the right amount of pressure has been reached via the click mechanism. In practical terms, all you have to do is place the jaws of the Accu-Measure over the skinfold and squeeze. The click and slide features take care of the rest. They make it possible and easy for you to perform private, accurate, and reliable measurements.

Should I have my body fat tested at a health club or clinic to see how their results compare with the Accu-Measure?
You certainly don’t need to. Remember, the Accu-Measure has been found to be closer in accuracy to the “gold standard” underwater weighing than any other method. Body fat tests at a health club or clinic, in addition to their cost and inconvenience, require someone to perform the test on you (i.e., a “tester”). With methods such as bioelectrical impedance, other calipers, and even underwater weighing, you risk the possibility of different “testers” using different equipment, techniques, and procedures each time a test is performed which can greatly affect accuracy and reliability. Numerous studies have shown that one person’s body fat test results can vary greatly depending on these variables. With the Accu-Measure, you are in control of all of these variables – you perform the test using the same instrument in the same manner. By eliminating the variables which can affect accuracy and reliability, the Accu-Measure actually has a technical advantage over methods used in a health club or clinic.

How often should I test my body fat percentage?
That depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re happy with your current body fat percentage and fat/muscle ratio, a test every month or so will tell you if you’re maintaining it. If you’re trying to lose body fat, however, you should test yourself every week to make sure you’re losing fat, not muscle. Daily body fat tests aren’t necessary simply because fat doesn’t disappear overnight. In addition to tracking your body fat percentage, remember to also keep track of your pounds of fat and your pounds of muscle (i.e. fat/muscle ratio). This will give you a complete picture of the changes in your body.
Why is body fat important?
The primary purpose of body fat is the storage of energy to be used by muscles. Subcutaneous fat (under the skin) also helps provide warmth and protection for our bodies. Internal fat helps support and provide protection for the spinal cord, hear and vital organs. Body fat is also crucial in the utilization of vitamins A, D, E, and K by the body (these vitamins are fat soluble). In short, you wouldn’t be able to survive without some body fat. The real problem isn’t body fat, it’s excess body fat.

Isn’t the Body Mass Index a better measurement indicator for body fat?
Body Mass Index, or BMI, is simply a correlation between a person’s height and weight. BMI does not measure body fat. Just like any bathroom scale, BMI cannot distinguish between people who are heavy with fat and those who have a large amount of muscle. Since muscle weighs more than fat, BMI could give you a wrong result. You could start a fitness program, trim inches off your waist, maybe even add a few pounds of muscle. Your BMI would go up, but you would actually be in better shape!

What are some of the health risks with having too much body fat?
Excess body fat is associated with increased chances for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. Emotional health and well being are also unfortunately often at risk due to societal pressures on being thin.

Can you also have too little body fat?
Yes. Just as with having too much body fat, there are also health risks associated with having too little body fat. Some of these include hypothermia, vitamin toxicity, and cessation of menstrual cycle and osteoporosis for women. Remember, some fat is necessary. The fat which surrounds the spinal cord, heart, and vital organs is called “essential” fat and is necessary to sustain life. Essential fat makes up approximately 9-10% of total body weight in females and 2-3% in males (you’ll notice on the charts on the inside covers of this booklet that the lowest body fat percentage a man or woman can have is their amount of essential fat). The difference in the amount of essential fat between men and women is due to reproductive and hormonal factors.

Does testing my body fat percentage mean I should no longer weigh myself?
No. But you should think of the information the scale gives you in a different way. The reason a scale is often criticized is because by itself, it can’t differentiate between fat or muscle and can only tell you a very small part of the story. When combined with a body fat test, however, your scale becomes much more meaningful. By simply multiplying your weight by your body fat percentage, you can determine the pounds of fat and pounds of muscle you have. This allows you to make sure any pounds you are losing are from fat, not muscle. With regular exercise (which is an absolute must to lose body fat), you may find that losses in fat are offset by gains in muscle and your scale might not show a change. When combined with a body fat test, however, you’ll see that you’re on the right track and indeed losing fat and improving your fat/muscle ratio. The same applies in cases where women may retain water weight temporarily before menstruation, yet still be losing fat. By using your scale along with your Accu-Measure, you get the whole story. You’ll know the quality of your weight – as well as the quantity.

Do I have to determine the percentage of fat in each and every food I eat each day?
No. What’s most important is to focus on your diet as a whole. Keeping your total daily intake of fat under 30% is what matters, not the presence of one particular food. Balance is the key. You can still enjoy foods which may be relatively high in fat; just try to eat less of them and choose foods to eat with them that are low in fat so your total intake of fat is still less than 30%. How you get your daily calories from fat is totally up to you. You’ll find that as you become aware of the amount of fat in many foods, the right choices become easier to make.

How should I change my diet if I want to lose a few pounds?
If after reducing your fat intake to 30% of total calories, you still need to lose some body fat, the only change you need to make to your diet is to lower the amount of total calories you consume. Everything else stays the same. You still want to eat a balanced, healthy diet by eating some foods from each food group; as well as keep your fat intake at or below 30%.

Reducing the amount of calories in the foods you choose doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods. It means choosing low calorie foods more often, without sacrificing the nutrients you need. Once you’ve reached your body fat goals, all that is needed to maintain them is to stabilize the number of calories you eat to the level that’s right for you. In other words, after you lose the unwanted body fat, you’ll also have the necessary guidelines to control your body fat in the future. If you find you’re gaining body fat, simply cut back on your calories by eliminating some of the foods you don’t need to provide the fundamental outline for a healthy diet. That’s the beauty of approaching your diet the right way. The basic, healthy outline never changes, all you’ll ever need to do is adjust the components to fit your goals.

How much should I reduce my daily calories to lose body fat?
Experimenting a little is the only way to determine how many calories are right for you when trying to lose body fat. One thing you can be sure of is not to reduce your total daily calories to less than 1200 per day, as diets which are less than this amount do not provide adequate nutrition. Such diets also cause you body to go into a starvation mode whereby body fat becomes much hard to lose and any loses which do occur are muscle weight.

The key to losing weight permanently is to lose body fat without sacrificing muscle. The Accu-Measure Personal Body Fat Tester is used to determine if you’re losing fat or muscle. This will allow you to evaluate your progress and help you determine if you need to increase or decrease your calories accordingly. Exercise also plays a major role in losing body fat and preventing muscle loss.

Try to spread the number of calories you do eat over five to six small meals a day. This will help increase metabolism which is vital to losing body fat. Frequent meals also maintain your blood sugar level which sustains your energy level and curbs your appetite.

Why is it that the foods which are highest in fat always seem to taste the best?
The truth is that fat helps make foods taste good. A porterhouse steak and a round steak come form the same animal. The porterhouse costs more for one reason – It tastes better. It has more fat. Most people would agree that a baked potato or dinner roll taste better with high-fat butter than without.

The key is keeping the fat you do eat under control and choosing lower fat substitutes that taste just as good more often. Simple changes can make a big difference. For example, a bologna and cheese sandwich made with 2 slices of bologna, 2 slices of cheese, and 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise is about 80% fat. However, a similar sandwich made with lean beef, lettuce, tomato, and low fat mayonnaise and served with a cup of nonfat milk, instead of cheese, is only about 15% fat. One plain baked potato has 120 calories with almost 0% fat. One pate of 100% fat butter makes it 33% fat, two pates of butter make it a whopping 52% fat.

Incidentally, the fact that fat makes foods taste good is a major reason why manufacturers of food products with claims such as “2% fat” or “95% fat free” don’t reduce the amount of fat to the actual level they claim and have to try and deceive you. They like to leave fat in these products so they will taste better – the better a food tastes, the more of it people will buy, especially if they’re being told it’s low in fat.