Body Composition: What Am I Made Of?
The Body Composition - Definition refers to how the various elements (bones, muscles, organs, water, and fat) that make up your body weight or Total Body Mass are comprised - usually this is expressed in percentages.
Muscles 45% (and they weigh about 75% more than fat)
...but can sometimes be expressed in lbs or another unit of measure.
Body fluids such as blood, water, and lymph can weigh as much as 100 pounds in an average adult male.
When we talk about losing weight we are usually talking about losing body fat and/or gaining muscle. Let's talk about body fat ...
Percentage Body Fat
Percent body fat can be calculated several different ways, each one presenting its own pluses and minuses:
At Essential Health Solutions we use Bioelectrical Impedance - This is the measurement of your body's resistance to the free flow of a very small electrical current passed through it. When this measurement is taken, the current is at a low enough level that you do not even feel it. Rather than a standalone determinant, this measurement is evaluated in combination with other factors - such as overall body weight - to determine a person's total body-fat percentage. This measurement can be affected by eating or exercising directly before testing. Therefore, the most accurate results from a bioelectrical impedance test occur when the person has fasted and refrained from strenuous activity immediately preceding the test.
According to The American Council on Exercise, the healthy ranges of percent body fat for women and men are as follows:
- Necessary Essential Fat: 10-12% for women, 2-4% for men
- Athletes: 14-20% for women, 6-13% for men
- Fit Individuals: 21-24% for women, 14-17% for men
- Acceptable Levels: 25-31% for women, 18-25% for men
Anything less than 10% body fat for women and 2% body fat for men they consider too little, and anything above 31% for women and 25% for men they consider too much.
The Waist-To-Hip Ratio is a simple calculation we do in our office during your exam and also one that you can do yourself at home. You simply take a tape measure and determine the circumferences of both your waist and your hip. Then you divide your waist circumference by our hip circumference. The resulting number is your waist-to-hip ratio. In addition to helping determine healthy weight goals for you, at Essential Health Solutions this calculation is often made to assist in identifying a person's risk for contracting various illnesses, including heart disease, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome. This is because many of the body's most vital organs are situation in the area of the belly. Too much body fat accumulated here puts a person at greater risk of these conditions than someone who carries a greater portion of their weight around their hips and thighs.
A higher risk of cardiovascular difficulties is indicated in women with a waist-to-hip ratio above 0.85 and in men with a waist -to-hip ratio above 0.90. The greater the ratio, the greater the risk.
Incidentally, the size of a person's waist (as distinct, that is, from their waist-to-hip ratio) indicates a greater risk of health problems associated with obesity, such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. At Essential Health Solutions we regularly screen and diagnosis these conditions when indicated - often in their early stages, thus providing you the information you need to make healthy choices - not just ones that will help you loose a pound or two. Women with a waist circumference of 35" or more and men with a waist circumference of 40" or more fall into that high-risk category.
Body Mass Index
At Essential Health Solutions we also look at your Body Mass Index (or BMI, for short). Your Body Mass Index evaluates one's amount of body fat in proportion to their height and weight, and as such is a much more accurate indication than merely weighing oneself on a standard scale of whether their body is underweight, of "normal" or health weight, overweight, or obese. Allowing for a true apples-to-apples comparison, BMI examines where a person's body falls in relation to the optimal healthy weight for someone of their size.
Though many BMI calculators exist online, you can just as easily figure out your own BMI by following this simple formula:
- Determine your height (in inches) and your weight (in pounds)
- Divide your weight by your height
- multiply the resulting number by 705
The final result is your BMI. Next compare this number against the following chart to determine how close you are to your healthy weight:
- Less than 18.5= underweight
- 18.5-24.9 = "normal" or healthy weight
- 25-29.9 = overweight and at greater risk of weight-related health concerns
- 30 or higher = obese and at the greatest risk of weight related health concerns
- 40 or higher = morbidly obese and in serious danger of weight -related health concerns
One key point of note, by the way, is that the BMI calculation is only considered accurate for people age 20 and older.
So .... Do I Need To Lose Weight?
With this new, and healthier perspective in mind then, it is worth reexamining whether you really need to lose weight, and if so, how much? At Essential Health Solutions, we are experts at guiding you through these considerations.
In general, your weight can be considered a problem if it affects one or more of the following:
- Your Activity Level
- Your Health
- Your Mental / Emotional state and outlook on life
Once we help you determine your optimal healthy weight range, as indicated by a combination of the three factors described above- we will then help you set a goal for yourself, a target weight within that ideal range, based on your own personal objectives, such as your desired energy level, appearance, mental/emotional sense of well-being and your lifestyle choices. You can schedule your evaluation on-line today or call us at 773.878.7330.