measuring body composition

The weight on the scales is by no means the only measure of health. In fact, weight measurement alone is a poor predictor of health. What is more important is the composition of your weight as well as any health problems you may have as a result of carrying extra weight (eg. diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain). 

For example, at the peak of his weight lifting career, Arnold Schwarzeneggerhad a BMI in the obese category, but this was owing to the large amount of muscle mass he had (muscle weighs more than fat).  You can also have someone who has a high body fat and but who still fits into the normal BMI range.  

Our total body weight is actually a combination of bone mass, fat and muscle mass as well as water. It is important when undertaking a weight loss program to ensure that you are losing fat mass instead of muscle mass as this slows your metabolism down, making weight loss harder to maintain.  This is why a body composition analysis can provide a complete and accurate picture of your health and makeup.

What is a Body Composition Analysis?

Body composition analysis is the process of breaking down your actual weight and showing the contributing components of fat, muscle, and water. Getting to know your body fat scale is important to evaluate your health. This process can also be done in a procedures, like DEXA (xray)  scanning, use of body fat callipers or through the use of unique high-tech scales. However the analysis is done, the goal should be the same for any procedure: to accurately estimate how much fat, muscle and water make up the person’s weight and where those components are located on their physical frame.

At Alevia, we always conduct body composition testing before the start of your weight loss journey. But before that, let’s discuss first the basics of body composition.

Body Composition Basics

Body composition refers to a person’s fat, muscle, and water content. Two people of the same weight may have very different body composition and body fat % which can lead to different health issues for each one. This is why knowing your composition is critical when losing weight to determine how we can address your concerns.

The goal at Alevia is to help you decrease your body fat % whilst maintaining a healthy muscle mass, so that you can achieve the best health benefits and which supports you to keep your weight off long term. 

Determining Body Compositions

Skin callipers

A health professional will use skinfold callipers to measure the thickness of your skinfold. Typically, they measure areas of the body where fat is commonly present. Skin callipers can be taken quickly and are very affordable. However, the accuracy of the result can depend on the skill of the person using the callipers and may vary each time the measurements are taken. 

Water or Air Displacement 

These method estimates your body composition through your density. The technique here is to weigh you while submerged in water after exhaling as much air as possible from your lungs, or by measuring air displacement while you are in a body chamber (BodPod).  . Hydrostatic weighing or BodPod assessment is highly accurate but needs to be done in a hospital centre with specialised equipment. 

DEXA scanning 

Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)

With BIA devices you stand on a scale and hold hand grips whilst a small electrical current is passed through your body.  The speed at which it travels will be different as it passes through water, fat and muscle and this helps to determine your body composition.  There is nothing to worry about because you will not feel a thing whilst doing the body composition, however it is not recommended for individuals who have a pacemaker or other electrical devices. 

At Alevia, we offer in-house body composition analysis with the use of our highly specialised BIA device. You will have to stand on a platform and hold the grip for 20-30 seconds, and it will give you a full report of your body composition, including your:

  • Total skeletal muscle mass
  • Total body fat in kgs and as a percentage
  • Visceral fat (fat around organs)
  • Total body water
  • Segmental muscle and fat analysis
  • Bone mass
  • Basal metabolic rate 
  • Metabolic age

We do your body composition first to understand how we can assist you in your weight loss journey effectively. If you’re ready, we are right here to help and support you. Talk to an Alevia doctor now to start your sustainable weight loss and weight management. Book now to get started.