Over the years, two key indicators have measured a person’s health risk due to weight: pounds (or kilograms) and body mass index (BMI). While that still holds true today, research has determined that these factors alone do not tell the whole story. In order to accurately assess your true health risk, you need to know your body’s composition. That is, a reading of fat, muscle and water percentage will give you critical information for creating an effective strategy for safe, long-lasting weight loss.
The ultimate goal in losing weight is to know that the right type of weight is coming off, which means reducing fat and increasing or maintaining muscle mass.
So what is used to measure a body’s composition? Up until the 1990’s, the closest we could get to determine body fat percentage was through the use of calipers. Calipers work by pinching a fold of skin on various parts of the body. They may be effective in reading the fat percentage of specific body sections, but they do not provide the most accurate total body fat percentage.
Then through medical technological advancements, the DEXA scan was introduced, which is known as the gold standard of body composition measurement. The DEXA machine works by having a patient lie down motionless on a table while the scanner moves over each part of the body. After five to ten minutes, results are generated showing the detailed percentages of fat, muscle and water in the entire body as well as compartments of the body (e.g., left arm, right arm, torso). The procedure is a breakthrough in body composition analysis (BCA), but it remains generally inaccessible due to its high costs, ranging from $100 to $300 per session.
Luckily today, there is a much lower cost analysis option with measurement capabilities that are close to those of the DEXA. It comes in the form of a scale that is just like the one you see in our office, but with features that make the critical difference in measuring your health risk profile.
The BCA scale utilizes bioelectrical impedance to determine a person’s water weight, fat mass, and predicted muscle mass for the body and each major body component This non-invasive method sends a low-level electric current through the body,. Body composition is calculated from the resistance to the flow of the electrical current. Don’t let this scare you! It’s safe and you don’t feel a thing.
Body composition analysis is fast and simple. The BCA scale reads results within seconds. Regular BCA scale readings make it easy for medical providers to fine-tune your weight loss program based on how you are progressing. For instance, if you’re exercising and the traditional scale shows that you’ve gained pounds, you may feel discouraged. However, the BCA scale may show that you’ve lost body fat, an indicator that the added weight may be muscle produced from your fitness activities. This is exactly the direction you want to go! Higher muscle percentage beats higher fat percentage any day of the week.
If you haven’t measured your body composition and feel that your weight may be the source of your health issues, go ahead and make an appointment with our office. The earlier you know your body’s breakdown, the sooner you can take steps to improve your health and well-being.