Have you ever wondered if you are losing fat in your journey of weight loss? Is it just water? Or, can it be muscle? How do we find out?
Put your thinking caps on!
If you thought that Body Mass Index (BMI) is the sole indicator of health status, you’re wrong!. Body Mass Index simply gives you a picture of the ideal weight for your height. But, what is your body weight composed of? How much portion does muscle mass and body fat percentage form in your body weight? Read further to find out the importance and benefit of measuring body composition.
What is Body Composition?
The human body is composed of different kinds of tissues like muscles, body fat, bones, and organs like the heart, lungs, etc. To simplify, let us divide the body into fat, and all the tissues except fat, which is called ‘fat-free mass’ or ‘lean body mass’. This is called the two-compartment model of body composition. Also, the body composition ratio varies widely across age, sex, origin, and medical condition (if any). In short, the body composition analysis helps us determine the proportion of different tissues in the body.
How to measure it?
Now that we know what body composition is, let’s look at how it can be measured.
The gold standard measurement of body composition is the Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. However, due to high costs and exposure to ionizing radiation, it is not useful for consecutive measurements. Furthermore, other methods such as Hydrodensitometry, BOD POD method, Skinfold measurements, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) are also used to measure body composition. The first two methods, although very accurate require expensive apparatus. The skinfold measurements need qualified personnel but have a high percentage of error.
The BIA method is the simplest and most extensively used. It works on the principle that fat has a higher resistance to the passage of electrical current than the other tissues.
The commercially available body composition analyzers look precisely like a weighing scale. However, they contain metal sensors that not only measure your weight but also pass a minute amount of electrical current through your body. The advanced versions come with a handle with sensors that can be held by the hand for segmental analysis.
The current is passed at different frequencies and the resistance is measured in various body segments. When compared against the normative data, the amount of body fat percentage, muscle mass, water, and visceral fat (fat accumulated in the organs like the heart, liver, etc) can be determined.
Why is it important?
As you have understood by now, body composition analysis helps determine the proportion of weight that is composed of fat and other tissues. By serially measuring body composition, you can ensure that you lose only fat and not muscle or only water during the process of weight loss.
Have you checked your body composition? If not, do it now!