September 18, 2017
Body Composition Analysis: Learn What Your Scale Isn’t Telling You
Stepping on the scale at the gym, in your home or at the doctor’s office tells you an important piece of information about your health: your weight. But that number alone has some limits. Two people of the same weight could be in two very different stages of health, after all. We are not just made of up body fat and bone, but also of muscle and water too. Those individual numbers play some key roles in fitness. This is where the process of Body Composition Analysis can help to provide a more complete, and more accurate, image of your health and makeup.
What is Body Composition Analysis?
Body Composition Analysis is the process of breaking down the number on the scale into its contributing components of fat, muscle, and water. This can be done in a clinical setting with X-Rays, in a Personal Training office with calipers, in water or air chambers through displacement, or through the use of special high-tech scales. However the analysis is done, the goal is the same: to accurately estimate how much fat, muscle and water makes up the mass of an individual, and even where those components are located on their physical frame.
How does it work?
Perhaps the most practical method of Body Composition Analysis today is through the use of a Tetrapolar Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) Scale, such as InBody. These scales utilize four points of contact with the body, or poles. Through them they administer small, undetectable (by you) electrical currents. With the measured rate of resistance to those currents, the scale estimates the amount of water, fat and muscle mass present – as well as where it is present. Users simply step onto the scale base, grab onto a pair of hand electrode pads, and stand still for a few minutes while the scale administers the current. This data is then combined with height, age, sex and overall weight measurements for a result.
What does it tell you?
In general, Tetrapolar BIA scales offer measurements in three categories:
- Water/Fat/Muscle percentages – This measurement tells the user what percentage of their body is composed of fat, how hydrated they are, and how much muscle mass they have.
- Fat and muscle locations – This measurement tells the user where their body fat is concentrated, IE in their trunk region, arms, legs, etc. Similarly, it shows where their muscle mass is concentrated.
- Basal Metabolic Rate – This measurement is an estimate of a user’s daily calorie requirement, at rest. A good body composition analysis increases the accuracy of this number.
How is it useful?
At its core, Body Composition Analysis is a more complete picture of an individual’s general state of health and fitness. However, its real advantage is what can be done with that picture:
- For personal trainers, knowing their client’s muscle mass, and the location of it, can help them to better target workouts. Over time, continued analysis can help track the effectiveness of exercise routines.
- Nutrition coaches and Registered Dieticians benefit from knowing a client’s visceral fat level, basal metabolic rate, and water retention score. This information can help them to create personalized target weights, tailored nutrition plans, offer more effective coaching and advice.
You don’t need to be a fitness or health professional to benefit from Body Composition Analysis however. Anyone, from beginners to seasoned athletes, can use the information. Use it to set nutrition goals, realistic target body weights, strength training goals, hydration levels, etc. It can even help you decide if programs, like personal training or nutrition counseling, are right for you. When it comes to your own health, knowledge is both powerful and important.
Are you ready to see beyond the single number on the scale? Do you want a more complete picture of your fitness? Right before starting a new fitness or nutrition program is a great time. A body composition analysis can serve as a benchmark for how you progress. Check out our fitness assessment options to get started!BACK TO ALL