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Why Your Body Composition Means More Than Your Weight

You’ve been hitting it hard at the gym. You’ve been much better with your diet.

So when you step on the scale, and the number staring you back in the face hasn’t budged – or, worse, is somehow higher than before – you’re understandably disheartened.

How could that be?

You’ve been doing everything right…and that's  including eating enough…  (Do you know  your Basal Metabolic Rate? You can't say you're doing everything right until you know if you're eating enough!!!! If you havent yet had one of our body composition scans.. Arrange a time and date with Lyn ASAP.)

You honestly feel and look better than ever – and other people have been telling you as much.

So what the heck is going on? 

Well, the problem is you are placing too much emphasis on your scale weight, and not enough on your overall body composition.

It’s easy to see the scale as the biggest indicator of your progress with your workouts and diet

But it’s not…

What’s MUCH more important than your weight, in pretty much all cases, is your overall body composition.

In this blog, I’m going to cover what body composition is, why it’s important, how to measure it, and what you can do to improve your own body composition.

What Is Body Composition?

In short, your body composition is just what your body is composed of.

For all of us, this means a combination of fat, muscle, organs, water, blood, and bone.

So, then, your body composition can be thought of as the specific percentages of each of these components – each of which factors into the weight you see on the scale.

That is to say…

How much fat you’re carrying.

How much muscle you have.

How much water you’re holding.

And the density and weight of your bones.

This is a more nuanced way to look at who we are – physically, at least – and far more revealing than a single number on a scale.

Let’s dive a little more into it.

Why Body Composition Is More Important Than Scale Weight? 

We’ve already touched on how there are a variety of factors that go into your body composition, but to help illustrate this let’s look at a common barometer of general health: Body Mass Index (BMI).

If your BMI is too high (over 25), then you are considered overweight; if it is too low (under 18.5), then you are considered underweight.

However, the overly simplistic BMI calculation is only based on 2 factors – your height and your weight.

This means that, like your scale weight, it doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story.

For instance, imagine 2 ladies who both have exactly the same BMI (which means that they are the same height and weight). One lady is muscular and the other lady more rounded and carrying excess weight. Both body compositions radically different and one of the 2 ladies is most certainly at a greater health risk. 

BUT by BMI standards, they are exactly the same, clearly showing how using this measure alone can be extremely misleading.

All measures with the ability to measure fat mass work on estimations. But because of the nature of what we need to measure and what's most important in terms of your health indicators. I've chosen to adopt a more detailed measurement method. Which is considerably more useful than BMI. 

How To Measure Body Composition

Now as far as body composition goes, there are certain things that you can control, and others that you can’t.

There isn’t much you can do about your organ weight, your Skeletal mass or the amount of blood that’s running through your veins.

And while you can manipulate your water retention levels to some extent, it isn’t worth worrying about too much.

So let’s focus on the two things that you can control – the amount of muscle you have and your body fat percentage.

Therefore, in order to measure your body composition, you need to be able to measure both the amount of muscle and fat that you have.

Having a 3D body scan that measures body fat & muscle mass will messure all these elements for you in a much more  accurate  other than an MRI and other less accessible options.

Interpretating your body composition results. 

So… if you are gaining weight on the scale, your body fat percentage is staying the same, and your strength is consistently improving, then you can be pretty confident that you are gaining mostly muscle, not fat.

Likewise, if you are losing weight on the scale, your body fat percentage is steadily decreasing, and your strength is staying largely the same, then you know that the majority of your weight loss is coming from fat, not muscle.

In either of these cases, you are making progress – so pat yourself on the back and be happy!

On the other hand, if you are gaining weight, your body fat percentage is increasing, but your strength isn’t improving, then you are probably gaining fat, not muscle.

And by the same token, if you’re losing weight, your body fat percentage is staying the same, but your strength is decreasing, then you are likely losing muscle, not fat.

In either of these 2 cases, things aren’t going to plan, so you should take a step back and evaluate what’s going wrong.

You see what I’m getting at?

Although ALL systems use estimations, the fact remains that these factors, considered together, can paint a much clearer picture about what that scale number actually means, and whether you’re going in the right direction on not.

I’ve had clients that hit a plateau with their scale weight, but their strength continues to improve while their body fat percentage decreases.

In these cases, while they may weigh the same, they are stronger, leaner, and typically look a whole lot better.

And even though their scale weight doesn’t indicate much, the reality is that they’ve made a ton of progress.

How To Improve Your Body Composition

As I mentioned before, the only components of your body composition that you can meaningfully change are the amount of muscle and fat that you have.

So, in order to improve your body composition, the focus should be on building muscle and losing body fat.

However, as I’ve discussed before, it is extremely difficult to do both of these effectively at the same time (unless you’re newer to working out).

The better approach is to focus on either building muscle (while limiting fat gains), or losing fat (while limiting muscle losses).

Waist-to-hip ratio

Another element we measure with our scanner is your Hip to waist ratio and I wanted to explain why this is important. 

The Waist-to-hip ratio measurement (WHR) is one of several measurements used  to access your health risk. 

Unlike your body mass index (BMI), which calculates the ratio of your weight to your height, WHR measures the ratio of your waist circumference to your hip circumference. It determines how much fat is stored on your waist, hips, and buttocks.

Not all excess weight is the same when it comes to your health risks.

One 2021 study showed that people who carry more of their weight around their midsection (an apple-shaped body) may be at a higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes  than people who carry more of their weight in their hips and thighs (a pear-shaped body).

  • A 2021 study found that Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR) is an accurate tool for predicting hypertension.

  • A 2015 study showed that increased WHR is a better indicator than BMI for predicting complications in trauma patients.

  • A 2016 studyTrusted Source found that a high WHR was associated with hypertension and diabetes.

Researchers have also found decreasing WHR is associated with greater health benefits. A 2020 study found that decreasing WHR by 5 percent significantly lowered risks of developing chronic kidney disease in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Waist-to-hip ratio chart

As you can see our scanner is  about measuring more than you think and offers measurements much more important that just a scale can offer. 

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