Everybody wants to be healthy but to achieve this, some folks regularly go to the gym and follow a strict diet. On the other hand, others follow a strict regime to maintain their weight.
Your weight is not the only one that needs monitoring; you also need to look after your body composition. Measuring body composition is one way of checking your health and fitness level. As such, we will talk about how to measure body composition and what it is all about.
What Is Body Composition?
Body composition is the percentage of fat and fat-free mass found in our body. To be considered healthy, your fat percentage should be low while the fat-free mass should have a higher rate.
Bone, muscle, tissues, water, and organs comprise the fat-free mass in our body. On the contrary, you can find body fat under the skin, muscle tissues, and around organs. There are two types of fat in our body: essential and non-essential.
Essential fats are the ones that are good for our body because they help protect our internal organs. They also regulate body hormones and store the fuel for energy.
Factors Affecting Body Composition
There are a lot of factors which can affect our body composition such as age, gender, genes, diet, and activity levels. Social and environmental factors can also affect a person’s overall body composition. There are factors that we cannot control, but most can be controlled with a disciplined attitude.
For better understanding, let’s take a closer look at these different factors:
- Age: As we get older, our metabolism rate decreases, and unfortunately, so does the lean muscle mass found in our body. When that happens, it would be harder to maintain ideal body composition. Eating healthy foods and exercising will help in sustaining our weight.
- Gender: Gender also plays a significant role when it comes to body composition. Women tend to have more body fat than men. This excess body fat is due to women giving birth and nursing the baby after.
- Genes: Genes are also an essential factor in a person’s body composition. Some are blessed with lean bodies while others have a hard time burning the fat coming into their bodies. Our body’s ability to retain water also affects our body composition due to hormonal imbalance.
- Environmental Factors: Environmental factors like smoking and alcohol drinking affect a person’s food intake, which leads to weight gain. Some medications also cause weight gain to individuals taking it. The abundance of food in the market, mostly fast food, is a significant factor in attaining non-essential fats in the body.
How to Measure Body Composition
Body composition analysis is a method which allows us to have an overview of our health. It gives us detailed information about the percentages of fat, muscles, bones, and water inside our body. In this part of the article, we will be discussing the different ways on how to measure body composition.
1. Bioelectrical Impedance
Bioelectrical Impedance or BIA is the method wherein we use portable devices such as smart weighing scales to measure body composition. Some of these scales come with a mobile app where you can track your body composition after syncing your smartphone to your digital scale.
You can also find more advanced and sophisticated scales in a professional setting like a gym or a clinic. The downside to this kind of method is its accuracy. You may get inconsistent readings due to several factors that may affect the result.
2. DEXA Scan
This method is also called Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. It is usually found in a medical environment and can also be used to check your bone density.
A person lies on an x-ray table while the machine passes through your body. This method also provides accurate data like the hydrostatic weighing technique without the hassle of being submerged underwater. It is expensive and not easily available.
3. Skinfold Measurements
This method uses a caliper to measure specific parts of your body. They will assess three, four, or up to seven parts of the body. Fitness trainers usually use them for weight loss programs.
Alternatively, you can also have your caliper at home since this item is inexpensive and accessible. However, it takes practice for you to get an accurate measurement of your body parts using this tool.
4. Hydrostatic Weighing
With this method, the person should be underwater. If you are not scared of being put underwater, then this method is for you.
This method works by comparing the person’s bodyweight while out of the water and your weight when wholly immersed plus the water’s density. They calculate these numbers and then provide the estimate for the person’s body composition.
This method is one of the most accurate among the techniques available in measuring body composition. The problem with this is its scarcity. There are only a few labs which offer this technique and at a high price.
What Makes Up a Healthy Body?
A healthy body should have an ideal body weight. Controlling calorie intake is one way of avoiding fat. You should have a well-balanced diet, which means that aside from eating the right foods, you should also eat the correct proportions of each meal.
Protein is vital in your diet, especially lean proteins. You can get this nutrient from lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, tofu, nuts, and beans. Including protein in your diet helps manage your appetite, cholesterol level, lipid level, and your weight.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables can significantly increase your intake of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. These nutrients help in maintaining low blood pressure and low blood sugar levels, avoiding the risk of having heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even blindness.
Knowing your body composition is a better option in monitoring your health level to avoid health risks like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. With all the different techniques we have mentioned, you can choose the one that you prefer the most.
Whether you aim to have a sexy body or you want to live longer by being healthy, let’s make it a habit to keep track of our body composition.