All You Must Know About Body Composition
Are you actively trying to eat healthy, stay fit, and live a healthy lifestyle? If you’ve spent some time in the gym or around fitness professionals, you may have heard them talk about body composition. If you want to reach your health and fitness goals, understanding and analysing your body composition is key.
It will help you make changes to your diet and fitness routine, give you a whole body assessment and indicate areas where you can improve.
What Is Body Composition?
Your body is made up of two main types of body mass: body fat and non-fat mass. While some fat is essential to keeping your organs protected and mind sharp, having too much excess body fat can be dangerously unhealthy. Non-fat body mass includes your muscles, bones, organs, tissues, and water weight you hold in your body. Your body composition is the measurement of body fat versus non-fat mass in your body.
What Affects Body Composition?
Your body composition is sometimes affected by factors you can’t control, such as:
- Your age: As you age, you lose muscle mass naturally. This can result in weight loss due to muscle mass loss, which affects your overall body composition.
- Your genes: Genetics play a role in how your body naturally stores and loses fat.
- Your hormones: Hormones can alter how much water weight your body holds at one time, affecting your body composition.
- Your sex: Whether you are male or female has an affect on your body composition, which is why the range of a healthy BFP is different for men and women.
How to Measure Body Composition?
When you measure your body composition, you are measuring what percentage of your overall body weight is fat versus non-fat. This is considered your body fat percentage (BFP). You cannot measure your body composition by simply weighing yourself on a scale because your scale will not break down your total body weight into fat and non-fat categories.
So, how do you figure out your body composition and body fat percentage? Read on to learn the four main ways to measure it. Keep in mind that some you can do on your own, while others are best performed by a fitness instructor, a doctor or your Metabolic Coach.
Skinfold Calipers Measurements
Using skinfold calipers to measure your body fat is a common method used at gyms − and you can do this at home with the right tools, though you may need some assistance from a friend or family member. Calipers pinch your external body fat to measure specific areas of your body. Once you measure the fat in those areas − such as your arm, abdomen, and thigh − you take your measurements and calculate your overall body fat.
While this does not give you a full picture of your body composition, it can tell you how much of your body is made up of excess fat, which is more than your scale can do. But know that these test results can vary depending on where you take the measurements and who is conducting the test. This is a manual process, which means there is room for error.
The method of hydrostatic weighing is an effective way to measure your body composition.
It requires sitting on a scale while being fully submerged in water in order to capture your body fat measurement. Your out-of-water weight and underwater weight are compared to determine your body fat percentage. While this weighing method is considered to be one of the most accurate options, it does not tell you where fat is located in your body, making it difficult to know what types of fitness routines are best for you.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
BIA measurements send a low-level electrical signal through your body − you cannot feel it − while standing on a BIA scale or holding a BIA measuring tool in your hands. This signal can identify when it is passing fat, water, or lean tissue. The information is then used to calculate your body fat percentage and give you a picture of your body composition.
This is a measurement option you can do at home by purchasing a BIA scale. Or, you can often find these tools available for you to try at gyms and nutrition stores.
Ultrasound Body Fat Scans
An ultrasound body fat scan is a proven and trusted ultrasound technology that can accurately measure tissue structure and body composition. It gives you the ultimate picture of your body composition, helping you track fat and muscle thickness to monitor your fitness efforts.
If you measure your body composition and find your body fat percentage is above or below the healthy range, don’t worry! There are things you can do to ensure you are in the healthy zone, and you can find everything there is to know to help you right here.