How Can You Check Your Body Composition

There are many methods to measure your body composition. Some are quick and easy, but provide basic information only.  Some are lengthy and expensive, and require the assistance of a trained technician to administer a test.  Here are a few methods that are used to determine body composition:

SKINFOLD CALIPERS

This is a method that many people have encountered in their local gym.  Calipers are widely used because they are portable, easy to use, and can be administered by almost anyone as long as they have had proper training and sufficient experience.

Calipers work by pinching external body fat in several places around your body and measuring how much skin can be grasped by the caliper’s arms.  These results are taken and used in mathematical calculations, which determine the fat content in your entire body.

If this sounds a little simplistic, that’s because it is.  Calipers are an example of 2C body composition analysis. Calipers will tell you how much fat you have, but that’s about it.

The other thing to be aware of when you are using calipers to test your  body composition is that the accuracy of your results may vary across tests, and the reproducibility (having consistent test results when back-to-back testing) won't be as high as tests performed on medical-grade machines, which are designed to reduce variance across tests and increase accuracy.

HYDROSTATIC WEIGHING

Hydrostatic weighing involves submersing yourself in a pool and being weighed on a special scale.  Once in the pool, you exhale all your air, completely submerge yourself in the water, and let the scale record your weight.  Your underwater weight is compared with what you weigh on land, and these numbers, together with the value of the density of the water in the pool, are put through a series of calculations.  These calculations produce your body fat percentage.

When done properly, hydrostatic weighing is a very precise method for measuring your body fat percentage, and it is often regarded as "Gold Standard" for body composition analysis.  However, just like calipers, hydrostatic weighing cannot report anything beyond body fat, like skeletal muscle mass, body water, and dry lean mass.  

To get a hydrostatic weighing test performed, you will need to make an appointment at a facility such as university or high-end sports complex that has built a hydrostatic weighing pool and has trained staff to perform the test.

DUAL ENERGY X-RAY ABSORPTIOMETRY (DEXA)

DEXA is a medical test that involves lying on a table while a machine sends X-rays through your body and measures the difference in the amount of energy initially sent through the body and the amount detected after it exits the body.  Although DEXA was originally designed to measure bone density, it is now also used to measure body fat and body composition, and it can give results such as body fat percentage and soft lean mass.

DEXA scans are also regarded as a "Gold Standard" for measuring body composition analysis.  Unlike calipers and underwater weighing, DEXA scans are able to measure the body segmentally, scanning each arm and the trunk separately in order to accurately measure body fat percentage, soft lean mass, and other body composition elements.

In order to get a DEXA scan performed, you will typically need to make an appointment with a hospital or clinic that has a DEXA device.  You may need to do some research; not all hospitals and clinics will have DEXA devices.

BIOELECTRIC IMPEDANCE ANALYSIS (BIA)

Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA) works by sending a small electrical current into a person and measuring the opposition of that current (impedance) as it travels throughout the body’s water. Once impedance is measured, body composition is ascertained.  Unlike other methods, a technician does not always need to be present at a BIA test, and you can use BIA devices with just by following the directions on the device.

BIA devices range widely in quality and accuracy, and you should be aware that not all BIA devices test the entire body.  Some devices, such as home bathroom scales, use BIA to directly measure leg impedance only and use estimations to determine results for the upper body.  Others are handheld devices that only directly measure arm impedance and estimate results for the lower half.

By contrast, modern, medical-grade BIA devices are able to measure the entire body directly, and can be extremely accurate - even as accurate as the "Gold Standard" procedures - without the complications that those procedures sometimes entail.  The most advanced BIA devices are even able to perform segmental analysis.

Because BIA measures works by measuring body water, a lot of useful information can be reported.  Although nearly all BIA devices will tell you your body fat percentage, some devices can go much further and report the body water weight, skeletal muscle mass, lean body mass, and much more.

Getting Started with Body Composition Analysis

Call 480-839-4131 to schedule your body composition anaysis consultation with one of our licensed physicians. During the consultation, the physician will go over the details of how the analysis works and what to expect. Results are provided to the patient immediately, there is also the option to have it emailed. We are here to help each patient improve or maintain their body composition and provide a variety of programs and therapies designed to help each person achieve their goals!

Transformyou is constantly providing specials. Call 480-839-4131 for details about current pricing and specials. We offer single readings as well as packages of 3 and 5 readings.