Body fat measurements in Cape Town

Finding an reasonably accurate body fat measurement around Cape Town seems hard. Using three different techniques I ended up with readings between 14% and 20%, in the same week. So I phoned the Sports Science Institute and then ended up talking to some people at UCT.

These are the options, in order of accuracy:

  1. Dexa, around R900 per scan, UCT has a machine, but it’s only used for research.
  2. Hydrostatic weighing, could not find one.
  3. Bodpod, could not find one.
  4. BIA, some Virgin Actives (Stellenbosch) have this and the Discovery Shop in Sea Point has one.
  5. Skinfold, done in many places, comes down to a lot of averages in equations.
  6. Infra Red, the older Virgin Active machines, you can get two very different readings with tests done right after each other (2% range in readings between three tests).

I think the BIA machine is the best option. You just have to be very consistent. I generally use it at 11:00 after not eating in the morning. Try and do the same things, same hydration levels etc before you use the BIA machine.

UPDATE 2015-09-17: Since getting to around 16% body fat I’ve regularly been collecting data with IR and BIA machines and the trend data is actually useful. I now think that the original 20% reading with BIA was probably not too far off – the trouble was that the Discovery Skinfold test of 14% was probably pretty out / under – I went to go talk to them and the equations / tables they use seem to always give readings under the real value.