Have you been working on trimming down for the upcoming swimsuit season and find that your jeans are loser, and you’re seeing muscles in new places, but your scale tells you that you haven’t lost any weight? In fact your body mass index, or BMI, suddenly places you in the overweight category. You’re working hard and you can’t lose that weight.
You may think the measure of weight loss success and good health begins and ends with the numbers you see on the scale. So many people simply change their eating habits and increase their cardio, thinking all they need to do is diet, burn fat, and watch their weight fall. After all, by simply cutting back on calories and fat, it’s only a matter of time before you will drop pounds on your bathroom scale.
The unfortunate truth is that a strong, healthy body is not simply a matter of losing pounds on the scale and looking trim. Often individuals can be “skinny fat,” appearing to be healthy based on weight and height alone, but possessing pockets of fat in targeted areas that puts them at higher risk for certain health conditions.
As an example, abdominal fat is increasingly linked to metabolic syndrome and heart disease; women whose waists are 35 inches or more have a higher risk of health problems than those with smaller waists, no matter how much they weigh. According to the American Heart Association, waist size predicts heart attacks better than BMI, especially in women. And a Danish study in Circulation found that extra body fat in women’s hips can increase the risk of venous thromboembolism, or dangerous blood clots in the veins.
So if you need a way to gauge your fit progress by seeing a change in numbers, there’s a better measurement than the one you’ll find on the scale. And that is your body composition.
What is body composition?
Body composition is the measurement of the ratio of fat mass in your body versus the measurement of fat-free mass (or lean tissue). Lean tissue includes muscle, bone, ligaments, tendons, and certain organs. The higher your overall body fat to lean-issue-ratio, the higher at risk you are for developing a variety of common diseases and conditions, some of which include diabetes, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues.
The case for body fat
Technically referred to as adipose tissue, body fat is a spongy tissue stored in the bones, organs, central nervous system, and muscles. Although it is the component of the body that we are most anxious to get rid of, body fat is vital to our overall health.
The extra fat in the body is referred to as “nonessential fat.” This is where excess energy is stored. Women seeking optimal fitness levels should aim for about 16 to 25 percent body fat; men should aim for 6 to 16 percent to maintain optimal health and lower their risk of preventable diseases.
How do I measure my body composition?
There are different ways to estimate or measure body fat, but one of the most effective calculations is to measure body fat by percentage. The Dexa scan technology provides the most accurate measurement of body fat and body composition by measuring bone marrow densities, scanning the whole body. Once the Dexa provides all of the measurements through its scanning method, we offer our patients the opportunity to come into our office to discuss the results with Dr. Axline and to plan an appropriate plan of exercise, hormonal treatment, and vitamin and diet regimen for optimal weight loss and body composition.
It’s not just a matter of doing more cardio. Achieving an optimal body composition will bring the lean and healthy body you are looking for long into your senior years. Contact our office today at (972) 538-2100 to set up an initial counsel with Dr. Axline and bring your health and weight into line.