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Body Composition

By Deena Hamza

Hello Everyone! I hope all of my G.O.Ps had a wonderful Thanksgiving and each and every one of you took the time to reflect on the things and people you are thankful for.

Body composition is a measurement that can provide a ratio of body fat to lean muscle mass and can give an indication of how healthy a person is. Here’s a list of the top ways to measure body composition:

CALIPER OR SKINFOLD TEST:

  • Accurately measures the subcutaneous fat (surface level) on the body
  • Calipers are used to grab adipose fat in up to nine sites in the body
  • Sum of skin-folds is calculated and applied to equations to determine fat percentage
  • This measurement does not measure visceral adipose tissue

WAIST – TO HIP RATION:

  • Accurate and simple test
  • Waist and girth are determined with a measuring tape
  • Waist girth is divided by hip girth to provide a ratio
  • Values below 0.85 for men and 0.80 for women are acceptable
  • Strong relationship found between waist and hip relativity and heart disease

HYDRODENSITOMETRY OR UNDERWATER WEIGHING:

  • Very accurate test measuring the density of the body under water
  • This measurement follows the premise that muscle weighs more than fat and will provide a denser measure in healthy individuals

BIOELECTRICAL IMPEDENCE (BIA):

  • Very popular
  • Top of the line Tanita scales cost $80 – $300
  • Accurate test measuring the conductance of an electrical current through the body
  • Fat free conductivity and fat mass conductivity provide percentages

DUAL X-RAY ABSORPTIOMETRY (DEXA):

  • Most accurate test
  • Two x-rays measure body’s mineral mass, fat mass, and fat free mass
  • Amount of s-ray photon absorbed by the type of mass indicates the amount of tissue (i.e. fat, muscle, mineral)

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI):

  • Very accurate but expensive measuring technique
  • Magnetic field is used to excite water and fat molecules
  • Reading provides how fat is distributed throughout the body

AIR DISPLACEMENT PLETHYSMOGRAPHY (BOD POD):

  • Accurate but expensive test
  • Very similar to underwater weighing
  • Air displacement is used as the technique to determine the density of the body

BODY MASS INDEX (BMI):

  • Common but inaccurate measurement
  • Height and weight is used to determine body mass
  • Does not account for muscle mass weighing more than fat mass
  • A lean bodybuilder could have a greater (unhealthier) BMI than an obese individual

COMPUTED TOPOGRAPHY:

  • Accurate but expensive test
  • Cross-sectional scans of the body are used
  • Best used to provide images of intra-abdominal fat versus subcutaneous distributions

I have a Tanita bioelectrical impedance scale and have used mine for over 5 years for personal and commercial use and it’s very enlightening and useful. Which one would you use?

In health, Deena

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Comments

  1. Great article! I was looking for a photo for my article I just wrote on lean muscle mass and the one posted here is amazing! Is it up for re-use with accreditation?

  2. Even worse, because it can be difficult and unnecessary.
    Once you know those foods that are lower in calories but I am trying mine smaller.
    I also have a brain tumor that I was officially diagnosed with in April 2009.

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