“Body Composition Testing” is a phrase that is being overused and grossly misunderstood across the health and fitness industry. Even when you choose a gold standard test, the different methods of application can still yield differing results. DEXA Body Composition scanning, Bioelectrical Impedance (BIA), BodPod, Skin Folds – you name it, we’ve tried it. That is why we can talk about body composition testing with such confidence (AND have the scientific research to back us up!).
If you’re serious about understanding your body composition, here are the key points you need to consider:
- Am I standing up for the test?
- What method is the equipment using to actually measure my body composition? How accurate is this method? Is it actually measuring, or is it making predictions?
- Is it using low dose x-ray technology?
- Can the test be replicated with the highest level of accuracy?
- How much will the test results vary based on my hydration status, time of day and how much I’ve had to eat? Does the test have protocols that need to be followed to minimise such confounding factors?
- Is it being done by somebody who is accountable to the results and trained in interpreting the results (i.e. Exercise Physiologist / Dietitian)?
Are you wanting to use your body composition analysis to track the results of your training and nutrition program? The accuracy of the test as well as the ability to replicate results makes DEXA Body Composition Analysis the Gold Standard performer in this area. The low dose x-ray technology of DEXA (less than half a day’s background radiation), accurately measures your fat, muscle and bone right down to a tenth of a gram. You heard us alright…a TENTH OF A GRAM! But wait…there’s more. Because it takes an x-ray picture of your whole body, it can also show you the regional breakdowns of these markers (e.g. right leg, left leg, right arm, left arm, trunk, head etc). HOW? Because it ACTUALLY MEASURES it.
BIA scales (the cute little machines where you stand up, plus or minus holding on and have electricity flow through your fat tissue and lean body mass), is the most common test we see clients have used in the past. Just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s accurate. These scales don’t actually measure your body composition, they’re PREDICTING IT. In fact, research shows that skin folds, when performed by someone who is ISAK accredited, are actually more accurate and have a higher level of repeatability than BIA scales – yep, good old fashioned skinfolds! Skinfolds however cannot help identify in depth information on muscle and can tell us nothing about our bones. This is where DEXA comes out on top – it identifies how much muscle you have, where it is situated and whether or not you have any imbalances. It also highlights issues around bone health because it measures your bone mineral density – something completely unique to DEXA. With 1 bone broken every 3.6 minutes in Australia, the ability to identify poor bone health early and manage it proactively is becoming increasingly important.
Which Body Composition Analysis does the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) recommend? DEXA! (with skinfolds coming in at second best). However, even the AIS recognises that not all companies offering DEXA Body Composition are alike. Factors such as the time of day you test, how you prepare for testing, and who takes you through the results are all important. Work with people who understand the data and how you can use it. I.e. a qualified Dietitian or Exercise Physiologist with a minimum 4 years university training and further qualifications in DEXA application and interpretation.
As mentioned above, one of the main tests our clients have had in the past is the BIA testing. During training at the AIS the BodyPlan Sports Dietitian did three bioelectrical impedance tests over the course of a day. The results showed a body fat % variation of 15%. FIFTEEN PERCENT?! We’re being dead serious. With variations like this, it raises the question, why even bother having one?! After experiencing the DEXA Body Composition scans, our clients say they would never go back to other forms of body composition testing and we wouldn’t either. You can’t expect to build and adjust a plan based on inaccurate results and achieve great outcomes. At BodyPlan we’re serious about YOU, which means we don’t cut corners – (and…we’re also science geeks).
Try DEXA Body Composition Analysis with BodyPlan who understands the technology and wants to help you understand what your results mean for you. Did we mention the scan only takes 7 minutes too? 7 minutes of lying down whilst watching the TV on our ceiling – accurate, fun and relaxing.
Click here to find out more about our DEXA scans.
Hope to see you soon!