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What Does Body Composition Mean?

Reshma Jirage Mar 1, 2020
The percentages of fat, bone, water, and muscles present in our bodies is what defines body composition. By analyzing it, we can determine how much fat and lean body mass an individual has in order to find his/her best weight.
Have you ever noticed or wondered why two people with the same height and body weight look different from one another? Why do you think that is? It's because both individuals have a different body composition. Here, we will be discussing the topic in detail where we understand what exactly is body composition.

Understanding the Concept

When a person is trying to lose weight, he/she will most likely search for weight loss tips, exercises, and diet plans.
So, let's say you got on the scale at the beginning of your weight loss regime and recorded your current weight. After about a few weeks of intense workouts and strict diet, you get on the scale again. Here, you see that the scale shows that you have gone down a few pounds or kilos.
However, it could mean a lot of things―losing water weight, skeletal muscle, and body fat, or even having a large bowel movement. Instead of the weight going down or up, you need to know what type of tissue, such as muscle, fat, and water, you have gained or lost. And this is where your body composition concept will come in.

What Are We Concentrating On

Basically, it is understanding the difference between overfat and overweight, and realizing which to focus on. Losing weight is a good thing, but when you focus on particular part(s) of your body, you will only see results in that area. Yes, your muscles will get toned underneath, but will not make much of a difference on your entire body's structure.
Hence, you need to focus on losing body fat uniformly and throughout your body. That way, you can retain your basic shape more or less, but it'll make you appear smaller. If you are curvy, ideally, they will remain intact but with a slimmer version.

Getting the Measurements Right

In an individual, there are two types of body fat―essential and storage fat. Essential fat is required for normal physiological functioning. Storage fat constitutes the fat reserves of the body.
Body composition is expressed as percent of body fat mass (lipids and other fatty tissues) and percent of lean body mass (tissues, muscles, bones, water, connective tissues, and internal organs). In order to get the exact measurement, there are different techniques used.
One of the most common methods is to use a set of measurement calipers to determine the thickness of subcutaneous fat in multiple places on the body. It includes the abdominal area, buttocks, thighs, arms, and subscapular region. With these measurements, total body fat is estimated with a margin of error of about 4% points.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) is another method which uses the resistance of electrical flow through the body in order to estimate body fat. Some other methods are hydrostatic weighing, Air Displacement Plethysmography (ADP), Dual X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Computed Tomography (CT).
Normal body composition recommended for a healthy adult male is between 13 and 17 percent and between 20 and 25 percent for a healthy adult female.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is another method to measure one's fitness level. 
Both body composition and BMI factors are helpful for healthy weight loss, leading to healthy living.
Disclaimer: The information given does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.