What Is Body Composition?
Our bodies are composed of two types of mass – fat and non-fat.
Body fat can be found in muscle tissue, under the skin (subcutaneous fat), and around your organs (visceral fat). Some fat is essential for overall health and protects your organs, regulates hormones, and stores fuel for energy. Excess storage of fat and non-essential body fat are signs that you may need to assess your overall health. Having extremely low body fat can also present health issues such as decreased bone mass and an increased risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis.
Non-fat mass includes muscle, organs, bone, tissues, and water – sometimes referred to as lean tissue. Non-fat mass is metabolically active, which means it actively burns calories for energy – unlike body fat.
Body composition is the proportion of fat to non-fat tissue in your body. A healthy body composition will have a lower percentage of body fat and a higher percentage of non-fat tissue. Knowing your body composition is a great start to measuring your overall health.
What is a Healthy Body Composition?
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE) the following ranges of body fat are considered the “normal” range.
|ACE Body Fat Percent Norms for Men and Women|
|Essential Fat||10% to 13%||2% to 5%|
|Athletes||14% to 20%||6% to 13%|
|Fitness||21% to 24%||14% to 17%|
|Acceptable||25% to 31%||18% to 24%|
|Obese||Over 32%||Over 25%|
Body Composition vs. BMI (Body Mass Index)
There is a big difference between body composition and body mass index (BMI). BMI only measures the amount of weight you carry compared to your height. If you are trying to lose weight, the BMI calculation cannot tell you how much of your weight is fat or muscle. Sometimes, when people are on an extreme diet, they could also be losing vital muscle or non-fat tissue. If you’re trying to get healthier, you are more likely to focus on losing fat and gaining muscle. A bathroom scale or BMI calculation can’t give you an overall picture of your health like your body composition can.
How do you Measure Body Composition?
There are several different ways to measure body composition. The most common way is with skinfold calipers – where subcutaneous fat layers are measured with a caliper. This method is simple and inexpensive, but not very accurate. The results can vary greatly depending on the person being measured and the skills of the measurer.
At Edge Weight Loss and Fatigue, we use a method called Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA), which uses a low-level electrical current to measure body composition. The Inbody 570 provides exact measurements and data analysis of an individual’s body composition including muscle mass, water, fat protein, bone mineral, and much, much more.
It also retains a data history of your previous 8 results, which is a critical feature to not just identify your body’s current status, but also progression and changes over time. This allows you to easily track your progress and measure the effectiveness of your diet and exercise program.
Focus on Fat Loss, Not Just Weight Loss
Most of the time, when people are dieting, they just focus on how much weight they want to lose. Two people with the exact same height and weight can look completely different because of the differences in body composition. When you know your baseline body composition, you can focus on where you need to lose and what you need to maintain! Knowing your body fat percentages, and what areas of your body they are the highest, allows you to focus on fat loss, not just weight loss. You can also maximize your fitness routine to maximize your goals, monitor your progress, and stay motivated!
People with optimal body composition are typically healthier, move more easily and efficiently, and in general, feel better than those with less-than-ideal body composition. Achieving a better body composition goes a long way toward improving your quality of life and overall wellness. If you are interested in finding out more about your body composition and how to improve it, give us a call at 832-789-4989 and schedule your no-obligation consultation.