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I've seen various techniques for this, I have hear everything from pinching yourself, to simply comparing yourself to photos of other people with varying degrees of body fat.

Does anyone have any techniques that have been useful to them?

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Given your BMI is about as accurate as a bio-electrical impedance measurement, I'd just go with that ;-) Adjust the percentage down based on how muscular you are –  Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '11 at 13:42
    
I'm looking for a percentage value, if you have any ideas how to calculate that from BMI please reply :) –  Moz Mar 30 '11 at 14:15
    
This article supposedly has a conversion. But if nobody else does, I'll post an answer later on. –  Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '11 at 14:40
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Is this question different in some way from fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/262/… ? –  Greg Mar 30 '11 at 15:52
    
@Greg, I guess I answered that question from a slightly different angle. Simply what measures are there to measure your body fat percentage. This one is about estimating it, probably without using any tools. –  Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '11 at 17:27
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

This website covers all the methods for accurate body fat measurement that I know of (well, besides autopsy, but I doubt you want to do that). The most accurate ones require expensive sophisticated equipment, so they're not really practical for the average person. The methods that I'd say are the most accessible are:

  • Calipers used to pinch the fat. Basically, you take a number of skinfold measurements, and use an equation that combines them to measure your body fat. They equipment is relatively inexpensive and it can still be accurate within 4% (depending on which equation you use). Check out Fitness Advisor for more info.
  • Bioelectrical Impedance. Scales that claim to measure body fat use this method (my scale gives you an estimate of muscle mass too). It's accuracy can be pretty bad, depending on the equipment you use, but if you use the same method every time, as least you can see if your body fat is increasing or decreasing. It's also quick and painless compared to using fat calipers.

If you want to estimate your body fat in order to assess health risk, it's also important to assess your fat distribution. For example, a high waist-to-hip ratio is related to increased health risk.

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Impedance measurement is very sensitive to how well hydrated you are, I've seen recommendations to drink up to a quart of water 30 mins before doing the measurement. –  BlackICE Jun 24 '11 at 12:00
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