Q: I have used tape measurement to estimate my body fat percentage, and it gave me 15 which is apparently normal (BMI-20.5, East Asian). But I do get two rolls of fat if I bend or hunch and “fat lines” appear after a while. (I do not get roll if my back is straight however, lines still there). Am I really at 15%? I’m trying to plan amount of cardio. – Jon
A: There are many ways to calculate your body fat percentage. This test from Health Central is a good place to start: enter your stats and a few measurements and it will calculate your body fat percentage with a very narrow margin of error.
Health Central says 18% body fat is in the healthy normal range for Asian men, 15% for Caucasian men, and 12% for African-American men. And for the ladies: 25% is healthy for Asian women, 22% for Caucasian women, and 19% for African-American women. According to this site, Asians tend to have a slightly higher percent body fat than African-Americans and Caucasians, because their bones are less dense. So, Jon, if this test gives you 15%, you’re definitely in the healthy range.
If you’re worried about the rolls, keep in mind that a little bit of extra flesh is normal when you bend forward or sit down. There’s gotta be a little give!
Furthermore, if your abdomen is flat when standing, then the folds and lingering lines could have more to do with the elasticity of your skin than with fat. When your skin loses elasticity, it doesn’t contract as much when you sit or bend, and it doesn’t bounce right back when you stand back up—the fold lines stick around for a while. This happens with age, certain skin types, and dehydration. Drinking plenty of water and using moisturizer can improve skin elasticity.
And, of course, keep working on that taut stomach with nutrition and exercise. A few recommendations:
For starters, go easy on starchy carbs, carbonated beverages, and sodium. Instead, drink lots of water and look into the fat-blasting benefits of green tea, which you can easily get in supplement form.
To lose a few extra pounds, Core Performance’s Joe Kita swears by incorporating fiber into your diet. “Fiber’s bulk naturally fills you up, so you eat less,” he explains. Another great way to scale back the munchies—while shedding excess fat and increasing abdominal muscle—is a weight loss protein shake. IdealShape has a great one; be sure to read up on its nutritious ingredients.
You can also check out MSN Health’s flat ab food fixes. And finally, remember that your eating habits are just as important as what you eat. This post will tell you when and how much to eat to keep your stomach slim.
EXERCISE FOR A TONED TUMMY
If you’re trying to lose excess fat, you should absolutely be doing interval cardio and metabolic circuit training. Find out why they’re better than steady state cardio for whittling down stubborn fat.
Next, check out these solid tips for driving away that last bit of belly fat, and putting a six pack in its place.
And finally, don’t forget to track your results!