Most people rely on their body weight as the primary indicator of health. However, our weight doesn’t always paint the full picture of how healthy we really are.
In recent years, there has been a rise in obesity among young children and adults. This problem comes with various health issues, which propelled the necessity to understand our bodies better. But it’s not enough to focus only on weight. Instead, we also need to analyze our body composition.
Now, if your next question is – “What is body composition? How to calculate mine?” you’re in the right place. This article will explain it thoroughly.
What Is Your Body Composition?
Although measuring the weight or a body mass index (BMI) is a widespread method, this can’t really tell you if you’re healthy or not. When you want to improve your condition, you’ll want to reduce fat and probably gain some muscle, but weight and BMI don’t make any difference between the two.
How can two people of the same height, age, and even sex have the same weight but very different body shapes and health levels? The answer is that their body composition is different. Assume that one individual is all muscles, while the other has a belly sticking out. Their weight might even out, but one is far healthier than the other.
Body composition is a thorough analysis of what your body is made of. It is the only method that can make a distinction between the fat, muscle, proteins, minerals, and other components of your body and give you a crystal clear picture of your health.
What Is Included In Body Composition
Four major things form body composition – muscle, fat, bone, and water. Besides these, there are a few other factors that you can include. Let’s look at them in detail:
- Weight: Your overall body mass which consists of all your body parts – bones, organs, water, fat, and muscles. Some factors influence your weight more, such as hormonal functionality, genetics, exercise, lifestyle, etc. You can measure your weight fairly easily using a scale.
- BMI: Your Body Mass Index divides your weight and your height. Although it’s not a good overall display of health, it can indicate a higher body fat and specific health conditions.
- Body water: The amount of body water impacts your health in several ways. You measure the amount of water in bones, blood, cells, tissues, and other body parts. You need to maintain the proper amount of water in your body, as it maintains the balance of fluids and keeps the circulation in check. On average, a human being consists 70% out of water.
- Body fat: Even if many people want to remove the body fat, it’s an essential part of the body and it has its own purpose to serve. The amount of required body fat is different for men and women. Men need around 5% of body fat, while women require from 10% to 13%.
- Lean mass: The lean mass is your body weight without the fat. World-famous bodybuilders and fitness gurus often keep the focus solely on improving their lean mass and reducing body fat.
- Muscle mass: This is the weight of your muscles and it’s one of the most important parts of body composition. Muscles are responsible for burning fat and energy, so the higher the muscle mass, the more weight you’ll lose.
- Bone mass: The bone mass indicates the overall density of the bones in your body. This value is also an important indicator of your health, as low bone density can lead to osteoporosis – ‘fragile bone disease.’
- Daily intake of calories: If you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories. The calories are measured by the food that you consume every day. If you want an accurate body composition analysis, you should keep track of every calorie you take in, even if this can be a consuming task.
- Visceral fat rating: This is the most essential value of fat as it’s the body fat that wraps most of the major organs. It provides them with adequate protection and makes space between them. But too much visceral fat can cause high blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks.
How to Measure Body Composition?
Measuring body composition consists of various analyses.
- Skinfold test: This is used to measure the percentage of body fat. The measurer pinches the subcutaneous fat tissue with fingers and measures the thickness with a caliper.
- Air Displacement Plethysmography: This method measures the volume of the human body. First, you are placed in a pressure chamber. Then the measurer calculates your density, percentage of body fat, and fat-free ratio by looking at the changes in the volume of the air.
- Hydrostatic Weighing (Archimedes’s method): Another method to calculate the volume, only this time a person is submerged in water.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Using an MRI is a way to measure skeletal muscle mass and adipose tissue. Measurers can use the adipose tissue value to further calculate visceral fat and subcutaneous depots.
- Bioelectric Impendence Analysis: The electrodes are placed on a person’s hands and/or feet, and low-level electricity is released through the whole body. The current’s flow is affected by the amount of water in the body. So, it’s the best way to calculate the percentage of water.
- Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA): This is one of the most accurate methods of calculating body composition. Your body is exposed to two different x-rays and it measures bone density, body fat, and muscle mass for various body parts.
Get a Clear Picture of Your Body
If you have the opportunity, you should seriously consider getting a full body composition analysis. This way, you’ll get a clear picture of your health and a glimpse of your future.
When you know these values, and with proper consultation, you can make some changes in your diet or lifestyle that will positively impact your life and health.
Hopefully, the next time someone asks you “What is body composition? How to measure mine?” –you’ll be able to explain to them the importance of the matter.