What Are You Made Of: A Dietitian’s Take on Why Body Composition Is More Important Than Weight
By Alyssa Kessel, RDN, LD, Expert Dietitian
There’s one thing nearly everyone is guilty of: scale obsession. Despite our habits to watch the numbers fluctuate on the scale, we should be weary of watching it too closely, because that number isn’t everything when it comes to your health.
In fact, your ideal weight and health goals shouldn’t solely be focused on your weight or BMI, because no two people are alike even though they may have the same height and weight. Why? Let’s take a deeper dive into a little something called body composition.
What are you made of?
Have you ever thought about what exactly makes up your body weight? When most people consider their weight, they think of the number on the scale. But this number is simply the combined weight of all the body’s tissues, and it can fluctuate throughout the day depending on the time, hydration status, or even what someone is wearing.
So, without knowing what you’re actually made of, how can we know where your weight gain or loss is coming from?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, in regard to overall health, weight is not nearly as important as the composition of that weight. With a good understanding of your body composition, you can see a more complete picture of your general state of health and how to approach your weight.
What is body composition?
Body composition is the ratio of body fat to lean body tissue, including muscle, bone, water, and connective tissue. This is a more accurate way to track weight than BMI (Body Mass Index), because BMI only evaluates your body size and not the composition.
Research has shown that a body composition within the recommended range suggests you have less risk of developing obesity-related diseases such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Elevated cholesterol
By reducing your overall amount of body fat, you can improve your body composition and overall quality of life. The key to overcoming a high body fat % is a balanced diet and frequent physical activity. If you are trying to lose weight, it’s important to focus on decreasing fat mass and maintaining or improving fat free mass.
How do you find out your body composition?
At Your Wellness Center, we use a specialized scale that breaks down your body composition based on gender, body type, age, and height. To the right is an example from one of our weight loss patients. Based on his height and weight alone, his BMI of 27.8 classifies him as overweight. But if you take a closer look, his body fat % is 19.1%, which puts him at an ideal range for his age.
How do I use this data?
We offer a medically-supervised weight loss program that is designed to help you reach your individualized goals. At each appointment, we measure your body composition using the latest advanced bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) technology. By tracking your body composition data, we will be able to see the decreases in fat mass and improvements or maintenance of fat free mass as results of your meal plan and exercise routine.
The results will then be used to develop personalized meal plans, target weights, realistic goals, and more effective one-on-one coaching. If you are interested in understanding your weight and improving your health give us a call to schedule your appointment or get started now by filling out our online form.
- BMI: Body Mass Index is the ratio of height to weight and is calculated by a formula: Weight (kg)/ Height (m2)
- BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate represents the number of calories used by the body to maintain normal functions when at rest.
- Impedance: Impedance reflects the body’s inherent resistance to an electric current. Muscle acts as a conductor of the electrical current, adipose tissues acts as a resistor.
- Fat%: The % of total body weight that is fat.
- Fat Mass: Total weight of the fat mass in the body. This is compared to the desirable range designed for your gender and age.
- Fat Free Mass: FFM is everything in the body that is not fat; muscle, bone, tissue and water.
- Total Body Water: TBW is the amount of water retained in the body.