Atlantic Coast Chiropractic

Body Composition and How to Know What Your Body Is Made Of

The term “Body composition” is used to describe the different components that make up a persons total body weight. Total body weight is composed of lean mass (muscle, bone, and organs), fat mass, and water. Weight scales determine only the total body mass. They do not tell you whether that mass is fat, lean mass, or water. Body composition is more important than your weight in determining fitness and health.

BMI or Body Mass Index, is a method of estimating body fat percentage based upon weight and height measurements. BMI is a calculation and not a direct measurement.  This calculation will only tell you if you are overweight, normal or underweight for your height. It does not tell you what your body is made of. For example, most athletes and body builders usually have a much higher BMI that puts them in the overweight category even though they are healthy and strong. But we all know a 5 foot 10 inch 189 pound high school lacrosse player with a lot of muscle is much healthier than the same statistical high school person that is a “couch potato” and is made up of mostly fat.
This is why it is so important for everyone to know what their body composition is to know how healthy they are! Numerous studies have also showed that a persons composition is a better indicator than their weight alone to detect risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer.

In general, an average person should have a BMI of 18-24. A male’s percentage of body fat should be between 10-20%. A female’s percentage should be 18-28%. There should be a 3:2 ratio between water absorbed inside the cells to that of water outside of the cells.

Now that we know how important it is to have our body composition measured, let’s look at different ways this can be done.
 

One method for measuring body composition, the Hydrostatic Method (underwater weighing method), has been considered the gold standard for body composition assessment.  However, because of expense and convenience, newer technology may make underwater methods more of a hassle than it is worth. There are a few places in town that do this and they usually charge around $50 per session. For the price it is much more precise than the new technologies, but still not as convenient.

DEXA stands for dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. DEXA is most often used to measure bone density and lean mass, but it can also deliver fat mass readings.  DEXA takes bone mineral content into consideration when determining body fat and muscle, therefore it is considered to be more accurate and precise than underwater weighing.  There is some x-ray exposure during the procedure and is costly.  It can cost up to $300 for a screening but is most definitely the best way to know your exact composition.

Because of the expense and inconvenience of underwater weighing and DEXA scans, many facilities use a simple skin fold measurements to determine body fat percent. Because the degree of error is potentially high, this method of fat measurement is useless if not in the hands of an expert. In addition, keep in mind; skin fold measurement is only testing subcutaneous fat (the fat just under your skin).  Subcutaneous fat is less of a threat when it comes to diseases.  Skin fold measurements are not an ideal measurement method for those who are obese and/or very lean.  You need to search out for methods that directly measure your visceral fat (the fat around your internal organs) and total body water. 

BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) is another method used to measure body fat and is what we use here at Atlantic Coast Chiropractic.  It’s a technique that measures the body impedance (resistance) to a low, safe electrical current through the body.  The current only passes through the water fluids inside the body.  Based on the impedance values, the body water volume is measured.  As water fluids are usually inside muscle tissues, by using the water volume, the fat free mass (FFM) is calculated.  The popularity of the BIA method has grown significantly over the last few years because it is painless, quick, and easy to administer the test.  However, although easy to use, conventional BIA is accurate in its results, but not as precise as a DEXA or hydrostatic measurement.

If using a BIA to analyze your body composition, make sure that you have not had anything to eat or drink for 2 to 3 hours before the test. Also do no exercise within 12 hours of taking the test. Wear minimal clothing and women should not be tested during their menstrual cycle as the body retains more water during that time and will skew results.

I hope this information inspires all of you to get your body composition checked. Do not guess about your health! If interested in learning more call the office and schedule a consultation.

Sign up now for a free consultation!

Monday

8:00 am - 12:00 pm

2:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Tuesday

8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Wednesday

8:00 am - 12:00 pm

2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Thursday

10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Friday

8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Saturday

Closed

Sunday

Closed

Monday
8:00 am - 12:00 pm 2:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Tuesday
8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Wednesday
8:00 am - 12:00 pm 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Thursday
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Friday
8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Saturday
Closed
Sunday
Closed

Location

Find us on the map