While measuring one’s body composition is as popular as compared to BMI (Body Mass Index), it is a very useful one. It actually tells you what your body is made of, which can help you determine how healthy and fit you are. Just as how people are unaware of body composition, they are also unaware of how to measure body composition.
In this article, we aim to share with you everything you need to know about measuring body composition. However, before we get on with that, allow us to define it for you first.
What is Body Composition?
Your body is made of several components including bones, skeletal muscles, fat, organs, blood, water, and more. The actual amount or weight of these components varies from person to person.
In most cases, the skeletal muscle makes up 30% to 50% of your weight. Bones are usually 15% of this weight. Fat can vary but is usually under 10% for most healthy individuals. Blood makes up about 7%, and then there are your skin, hair, and nails, etc. that do not weigh that much.
When it comes to measuring body composition, all these components are broadly divided into two components:
- Fat mass
- Fat-free mass
Fat mass is obviously all the fat in your body, whereas fat-free mass constitutes everything else. This simplification basically makes body composition a more reliable and accurate measure of your health and fitness.
This is particularly relevant for those trying to lose weight or gain muscle mass. If you are trying to lose weight, then your fat mass can tell you if you have lost weight. Similarly, you can see if you have gained muscle if your fat-free mass increases.
Why is Body Composition better than BMI?
BMI may be used for a population but not for individuals, as our compositions vary greatly. It is based on your height and weight and is measured by dividing the body weight in kilogram by height in meter square.
There is a particular scale of this index that indicates whether you fall under underweight, normal, or overweight population. There are instances where someone who falls into the underweight category is quite healthy. Similarly, someone who is muscular may be obese according to their BMI.
BMI takes into account your whole body weight. According to BMI, someone weighing 180 pounds because of obesity is the same as someone weighing 180 pounds because they lift weights. Evidently, that is misleading and not accurate at all when you want to measure your workout progress.
Because BMI is not a proper measure, most people interested in accurate measure use body composition instead. When you are hitting the gym, you are mainly concerned with two components of your body: fat and muscle. That is also what is affected by your lifting and cardio.
Simply put, body composition clearly divides weight into two separate categories, making it easier to find out the amount of fat you lost. Equally, when gaining muscle mass, it should be easy to calculate your progress from your non-fat mass measurements.
There are many ways that can help you have a lean body, without any fat, like workouts and healthy diet.
If you are trying to lose weight and want to achieve a tight belly, you can also use Lean Belly Breakthrough. The package is designed specifically to reduce fat mass in your body, specifically your belly fat. While you can get rid of fat by adopting a healthier diet, packages like these always help you achieve quicker results.
How to Measure Body Composition
There are several ways to get an idea of your body composition, but some may not be accurate. Some popular methods are as follows:
Body Composition Scales
The most common way to find body composition is to use Body Composition Scales. These are just like your regular scales; however, they also use bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).
When you step on a body composition scale, it sends a very small electrical current through your body. The composition is determined by the resistance the current experiences. Components like muscle and bones have higher amounts of water and offer less resistance. On the other hand, fat, which has less amount of water, offers more resistance.
These scales are not quite reliable because the technology is very limited. The electric current may not even pass through your entire body. Imagine it passing through your lower body only, and most of the fat is usually located in our upper body. As a result, you would get a highly inaccurate measure of your body fat.
The current automatically takes the least resistant part, which means it may avoid a whole area of fat deposit altogether, especially in obese individuals. These devices are based on equations that are determined by testing a big group of people. This data basically calibrate the device, resulting in incorrect results in some cases.
Another way to measure fat and non-fat composition is by using calipers. These calipers are used on several areas of your skin to measure its thickness. The results from these are then put in an equation, which then determines the body composition. This is a rather reliable method only if you do it right. Users can make errors when using calipers by either pressing it too hard or too lightly on their skin.
Besides these handheld devices, there are some high-tech solutions for measuring body composition too. The DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) is a device that can scan the entire body and calculate the percentage of each component in your body. Even for these machines, the results differ based on the algorithms used.
There is another device called the Bod Pod that uses air to weigh your body and its composition. This is probably going too far for determining body composition, but they do work, at least for measuring certain components.
For instance, the DEXA machine can even tell you your bone weight. Come to think of it, all of these can be combined to find the most accurate body composition.
Whatever method of body composition measurement you use, the results would be much more insightful and accurate as compared with BMI. Many people still rely on BMI, which, apparently, is not that accurate and relevant. It is only applicable for those who have an average physique corresponding to their age and height.
With the devices we have shared with you here, we hope you now have enough information about how to measure body composition. You can also determine body composition by comparing your body with pictures of individuals and their fat percentage. Again, it will not be truly accurate, but it will give you some idea of where you stand and how much you may need to work out.