I am on 8% body fat but still look fat?

I have been doing some intense cardio and weight training for the last 2 months, with a goal in mind to get a lean body.

From what I understood, if I have body fat around 7-8%, that means ripped mid section and overall lean body.

I just bought a fat calliper (basic plastic one) to measure my current body fat. I have 8mm thickness around my mid section and according to their chart (for a 23 year old) my body fat is around 7-8%.

My question is: why can I still see a layer of fat, on my body, when sitting on a chair?

Weight (2 months ago): 176lbs

Weight (currently): 165lbs

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is the 8mm from one measure, or did you practice using the caliper multiple times before getting that measure? in order to get an accurate reading with body fat calipers you have to ensure that you are being consistant. –  DForck42 Aug 23 '12 at 14:00
also, nerd fitness has an interesting article on body fat percentage nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/07/02/body-fat-percentage –  DForck42 Aug 23 '12 at 14:16
Thanks for the link @DForck42 ! I also agree that there's very likely an error in reading the device, or the device itself is just not accurate enough. –  Dave Liepmann Aug 23 '12 at 14:32
Are you sure the 11lbs you lost is fat loss, and not muscle loss? –  Robin Ashe Aug 23 '12 at 15:02
As I suggest in my answer below, take multiple tests to ensure you are actually at or near 8%. If you are, and this isn't some calculation error, then our answers will have to change. –  Moses Aug 23 '12 at 20:40

First thing to understand about most BF% measurement devices is... they are approximations! Unless you go into a hydrostatic displacement tub, you will only be seeing rough approximations that may or may not work for you based off of your body type. The best way to combat this is twofold:

1. Use multiple methods to measure your BF%.
2. Be consistent and with your measurements.

By using multiple methods of calculating body fat, you are far less likely to have your results skewed by a single inaccurate measurement or outlier. Maybe you measured in a wrong location, or maybe you pinched the wrong fold of skin, resulting in a slightly higher/lower reading? The larger your sample size of measurements, the less you will have to worry about these questions.

By being consistent with your measurements I mean two things. You want to measure in the exact same place you did last time, at the same time of day, with the same amount of food/water in your stomach, etc.. This is most easily accomplished by taking your measurements first thing in the morning before you shower. The more variability you can eliminate, the more accurate your readings will be.

Personally, I recommend using the navy body fat calculator, the mirror test, the caliper test (both 4- and 8-point). You can read more about different measurements in this question.

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Body fat calculators for home use are not accurate. Not even close. They can only be used to track progression (loosing or gaining BF). You might be sitting at 15% BF.

Other thing which might give you "fat look" is not fat itself, but water. Reduce your carb and sodium intake and make sure you are taking much more potassium then sodium. Just don't do it overnight. Give yourself several days and do it gradually (both sodium and potassium are vital for your heart, if you make too great disbalance, your health, even life, is in danger).

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You say that you see it when sitting on a chair. Most probably, what you are seeing is skin. And maybe several layers of subcutaneous fat. That is normal, even for skinny people. Everyone has excess skin on the stomach. That allows the body freedom of movement so you can extend your spine. If you were to have less, your skin would stretch and not allow you to extend backwards.

Those recordings that you do on yourself are not entirely reliable, especially if you perform only one measurement. However, assuming you do have 8% BF, then what you are seeing when flexed at the hip is actually mostly skin.

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