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Body Comp - When You Use the Scale, You Plan to Fail!

Body Comp – What is Really Going on Inside

Underlying media messages in our society have made the number on the scale the be all and end all in how we identify with ourselves. We feel good about ourselves if the number goes down and bad if the number goes up. However, have we ever really stopped to consider what the number means? Does the number on the scale really mean anything? Does the number on the scale give us a true view of our health, our body comp or what is really going on inside of us?

Fat-to-Muscle

body fat scaleThe scale tells you little other than what your body weight is on a particular day.  It does not differentiate between the quantity of fat or bone or muscle tissue you have.  How much fat-to-muscle you have is more important a factor than your body weight.  It should be noted that as you gain muscle and lose fat,  you may see little to no change on the scale. However, with exercise and proper diet, you will always see differences in how your clothes fit, your waist measurement and how much stronger you have become.

Body  Composition Analysis

Body composition analysis explores or discloses the ratios of fat-to-lean mass. Truly accurate results for any particular analysis should indicate lean mass, fat mass, bone tissue and hydration levels. Here are three methods that Infofit personal trainers use to gain insight regarding their clients’ health risks and body composition.

Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis

Method 1

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is a great way to monitor body fat; it is easy to use and relatively affordable. The machine can be purchased at most fitness equipment stores. Results will fluctuate depending on the quality of the device. Generally, it is considered normal to see an error of plus or minus 3%(5) if all protocol is followed.

Pre-assessment protocol for these machines are as follows (5):

  • Abstain from eating and drinking within 4 hours of the test
  • Avoid exercising within 12 hours of the test
  • Void (urinate) completely prior to testing
  • Do not drink alcohol within 48 hours of the test
  • Avoid taking diuretics prior to testing unless instructed by your physician

Commercial Body Fat Analyzers May Not Provide All the Information

Depending on your motivation or goals, commercial body fat analyzers may not provide you with all of the information you require. Alternate methods provide you with more accurate results without any prior preparation. These alternative methods vary in cost and availability depending on where you are located. Also depending on what information your health professional requires, she/he may have a preference for the method used.

Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)

Method 2

Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is a specialized X-ray exam that offers thorough information regarding body comp including the ratio between fat, muscle and bone in each area of your body. The detailed report includes data on the axial body and each separate appendage. Health care professionals and personal trainers use this information to assess their patients’ bone density and other medical conditions such as abdominal obesity.  DEXA is particularly helpful for athletes and body builders where symmetry is imperative for competitive wins and reduced risk of injury. The x-ray machine emits of very low level of radiation which would be comparable to a dental x-ray. General consensus is this is the gold standard of the body composition methods.

Waist Circumference

Method 3

Waist circumference offers an understanding of one’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and level of obesity. It is a simple method to perform that provides Infofit personal trainers with valuable insight regarding our clients’ health.  Waist circumference should be at or below 40 inches (102 cm) for men and 35 inches (89 cm) for women.

Don’t Use the Scale!

Infofit’s personal trainers use bioelectrical impedance, DEXA, and waist girth measurements to better understand their clients’ body composition and health risks.  They don’t use the scale and neither should you.

So, if the Scale is Causing You Stress, Get Rid of It and Instead, Use One of These Three Methods Instead!

  • https://www.acsm.org/public-information/articles/2012/01/12/measuring-and-evaluating-body-composition
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2543039/
  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/body-fat-analyzers/faq-20057944
  • http://www.tanita.com/en/howbiaworks/
  • http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwfit/bodycomp.html
  • http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/75/3/453.full – http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/75/3/453/T3.expansion.html
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