Measuring your body composition is always a bit of a challenge since the accuracy on most tools/methods are pretty questionable. The really accurate tools require you to go pay money and see a specialist which isn’t practical for most people. So what is the best way to measure your body composition?
Personally, I’ve come to the decision that for the most part there isn’t a really compelling reason to need to know your actual body fat percentage in the first place. Instead, when you are trying to change your body composition, focus your typical areas of fat storage and measure and record those from time to time. This will make it easy to see if you are making progress or not.
How to do it
Everyone’s body is slightly different, so the area you measure may be different from mine. But the idea is that you will use the areas where you typically find fat stored in your body. For me, that is my lower abs and love handles. For you it may be your thighs, hips, or arms. All you need to do is take a tape measure and every week, at around the same time of day (once you wake up and use the bathroom is a good time), measure that area of your body and record it.
Since you are measuring an area where you tend to store fat, if you are losing weight you should be losing size in that area. If you are trying to gain lean mass you should also watch this number since you don’t want to be gaining more fat than you have to.
Multiple points of measurement
While it will take slightly longer, a better way to gauge the true fat loss/gain is to measure a few areas on your body where your fat tends to store. If you don’t do this, you may get disheartened when despite weight loss you aren’t losing any inches on your gut. It may turn out that you are losing lots of fat on your thighs but if you aren’t measuring that as well you may not notice and think you’re failing on your fat loss.
Sometimes simpler is better. When you look at your real motivation, I imagine for most people it isn’t to achieve an exact body fat percentage, it is to lose some fat and look/feel better. To achieve this end, you don’t need advanced metrics from a dexa scan, instead a few simple measurements to track progress should be sufficient.