What is Body Composition?
Body Composition is a breakdown of the components that are present and their levels in an individual’s body. It is essentially the ratio of fats, proteins, water, and minerals present in the body and helps one to compare their body composition to an ideal composition to get an idea of their health levels. It can be calculated using body composition testing, which includes a number of analytical tests.
What Factors Affect The Body Composition?
Age Of The Individual
As an individual age, there is an increase in the percentage of their body fat along with their body weight due to a number of factors, one of which is the decreased level of exercise. This is also accompanied by a reduction in the total body protein levels due to the loss of muscle mass. Hence, the body composition scanning will show changes in the levels of fats and protein in an individual as they age.
Females are generally found to have a greater level of fats in their bodies as compared to males. The difference in the fat levels in females and males, which is often shown by body composition analysis machines, is mainly due to the difference of hormones in both genders – as estrogen in females makes it hard to burn fat as efficiently as males.
Even though there have been mixed opinions and results regarding the differences in body composition in various ethnic groups and individuals from different backgrounds, however comparisons using Body Composition Analyser in a majority of studies have shown individuals from an African American background to have a greater level of mineral in their bones as compared to the other ethnic groups.
What Are The Benefits of Finding Out Body Composition?
A major advantage of finding out body composition is to evaluate all the deficiency of excesses of various components in the body – after which corresponding changes may be made by the individual.
The benefits corresponding to this include:
- It allows individuals to know whether they are required to gain or lose weight according to their baseline.
- Finding out the ratio of separate components allows the individual to focus on the abnormal component instead of making changes to all components. For example, if the percentage of fat is high only, the individual is directed towards fat loss instead of complete bodyweight loss.
- An analysis of the body composition of the body allows the individual to find out their unique fitness goals and plan their workout routine accordingly to allow maximum benefit.
Finding out the calorie needs through body composition analysis also allows the individual to refer to a nutritionist and plan their diet accordingly, and have personalized nutrition goals.
How Do You Track Your Progress With Body Composition Outputs?
Tracking of body composition using different methods allows an individual to get an insight into how their body is changing and what interventions they may need to make to help their body reach health composition goals. A number of body composition analysis methods are available – some might be more appropriate for certain individuals than others. Different assessments have different validity and reliability, and while some may display the composition of the entire body together, the other may do this in segments – as seen in the segmental body composition analyzer.
Moreover, experts believe that it is beneficial for the majority to schedule body composition assessments at least 3 to 4 times a year, to be well aware of how the body is changing in real-time. However, this time may vary from person to person according to their goals.
What Are The Methods of Body Composition Analysis
Skin Calipers help measure the thickness of the skin and are amongst the most used tools to calculate body composition in clinical settings. These may be used to measure the thickness of the skin over different body parts and may act as an effective tool to compare these measurements.
The calculated thickness of skin may then be used to calculate the body density of the individual. This body density may then be used to calculate the percentage of fat inside the individual’s body. The two types of skin calipers which are most commonly used for this purpose include the Lange and Harpenden Skin Calipers.
Hydrostatic Weighing is also known as underwater weighing, is an effective assessment for the measurement of body composition. The density of the body is calculated by comparing the weight of the individual in air and in water. The difference between the two can then be used to calculate the percentage of fat present inside the body. While it may give an estimation of the level of components inside the body, it may not be used to assess the distribution of these.
Air Displacement Plethysmography
Air Displacement Plethysmography is a replacement for those individuals who may not find it convenient to be submerged in water in the Hydrostatic Weighing method. This type of body composition analysis is based on the air that is displaced by the individual, which may then be used to calculate the body density and percentage of fat.
Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry
Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry, which is also commonly known as DXA, is often used to measure the mineral mass of the bones in the body. This is facilitated by the difference in the absorption of x-rays belonging to different energies. A major advantage of this body composition analysis over the other is that it is very quick and may also be used for infants and children who may be up to the age of 4 years. This is because even though this method utilizes ionizing radiations, which are commonly not recommended for children, the level of this radiation is very low.
Magnetic Imaging Resonance, which is also referred to as MRI in short, is used to estimate the volume of the adipose tissue present in the body. The way in which this works is that the electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by the MRI machine helps form images based on the level of energy that is absorbed and emitted by the body structures. This may be preferred over other methods of body composition analysis due to its regional estimation of body composition and high accuracy for the estimation of adipose tissue in the abdomen.
Bioelectric Impedance Analysis
As the name suggests, the bioelectric impedance analysis is a type of body composition analysis, which calculates the impedance of various body structures to electric current. It involves the placement of electrodes over the wrist and ankle of the individual, which allows them to act as a single cylinder.
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