If you haven’t already heard, Performance Health & Fitness is now offering year-round body composition analysis scans using our InBody 270.
The number on a traditional scale does not indicate a person’s overall health. The InBody gives you an accurate and comprehensive breakdown of your weight in terms of muscle vs fat vs water.
The association of excessive body fat with co-morbidities are well known: hypertension, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, obstructive sleep apnea, etc.
Even more so, the consequences of inadequate body fat are also well known: compromised physiological function of cardiovascular, endocrine, reproductive, skeletal, gastrointestinal, renal, and nervous systems.
Having body fat within the normal range can help to reduce your risk of co-morbidities.
The two-compartment model is the most common body composition estimation strategy. The two compartments are fat and fat-free (lean) mass.
Essential body fat is present in bone marrow, major organ systems, and cellular membranes. Stored fat, which is different from essential body fat, is from consumption of excess energy. Both essential and stored fat are vital for good health.
Essential body fat is:
- 2% to 5% for males
- 10% to 13% for females.
Normal body fat is characterized as:
- 12% to 24% for males
- 25% to 31% for females
Excessive body fat is characterized as:
- > 25% body fat in males
- >32% in females
Women require higher levels of both types of fat to maintain reproductive function. When total body fat falls below the minimum recommended levels of essential body fat, the body can’t effectively deliver essential nutrients to organs, resulting in deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI was first described in 1832 by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian statistician who applied mathematical science to his studies related to human physicality. Quetelet’s observation resulted in the BMI equation:
BMI = weight (kg) / height (m)2
BMI | Weight Status
Below 18.5 | Underweight
18.5-24.9 | Healthy
25.0-29.9 | Overweight
30.0 + | Obese
Although BMI is used as a screening tool for overweight/obesity in clinical settings, it has many limitations and may not the best tool to measure and monitor body composition changes. There is increasing evidence that BMI classifications are outdated. This is because it does not account for the variations in populations that differ according to gender, age, and race/ethnicity.
Also, BMI does not distinguish the components of total weight – fat and fat-free (lean) mass. If you compare an athlete vs a sedentary adult that are the same age and gender. They may both have the same BMI, even though the athlete has greater muscle mass and a smaller percentage of body fat, and the athlete may be incorrectly classified as obese. Body fat percentage is a better indicator of overall health.
The InBody provides a comprehensive analysis that is an accurate way to monitor changes in body fat and lean mass. Not only do you get your body composition analysis, but it provides your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, the minimum calories required at rest.
What is BMR?
BMR is NOT the amount of calories that you should be consuming, but rather the number of calories your body needs just to stay alive – enabling you to breathe, pumping blood to your heart, etc. It varies by age, gender, genetics, hormones and muscle mass.
Consuming below your BMR can have adverse health results.
In addition to BMR is the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), which is the number of calories used to digest food, and Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which is the calories used in non-sport activities – house chores, grocery shopping, walking to your car, etc. Both of these increase your calorie needs above your BMR. Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is the calories you use during physical activity, which increases your calorie needs even more. There are many factors that impact your calorie needs, and no person has the same energy needs as another. Working with a registered dietitian is a great way understand what your individual needs are.
How does nutrition play a part in body composition?
If your goal is to increase muscle mass along with resistance training, consumption of adequate calories and macro-nutrients are required.
Your body must be in a surplus in order to build. Timing of protein and carbohydrates is important when aiming to build lean muscle mass. A pre-workout snack that includes carbohydrates switch your body from muscle breakdown mode to muscle building mode. Aim for 20 grams of protein post-workout to help optimize muscle growth and repair. As muscle mass increases, so will your BMR, thus increasing your energy need.
If your goal is to decrease body fat physical activity, consumption of adequate calories and macro-nutrients are also necessary for body fat reduction.
Significant calorie reduction is not a sustainable way to eat, and can actually lead to fat accumulation, muscle loss and lowered metabolism.
This is because when you severely restrict calories, your brain perceives it as a famine, and your body conserves energy to maintain weight. Your heart rate slows down, your stomach and GI tract slows, your hormonal systems revert to pre-adolescence – women produce less estrogen and men produce less testosterone.
Eating a balanced diet that provides adequate calories, includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains is the most sustainable way to eat.
Want to learn about Nutrition Coaching? Schedule a free 30-minute Nutrition Coaching Strategy Session to speak with our Registered Dietitian about your health goals and see if nutrition coaching would be a good fit for you.