Body composition is an essential part of nutritional assessment. It allows healthy goals to be set and progress to be monitored objectively. Weight is only one of the criteria to consider if you want to lose or gain weight. Find out about the different components of your body, such as body fat and lean body mass and how to calculate them.
The body composition includes a portion of fat mass more or less important depending on the individual. Fat is wrongly demonized by many people, but in reality, it plays an essential role in the proper functioning of the human body. If you are learning how to take good care of your body, then it is important to know the beneficial effects of fat on the body
First of all, fat mass is where vitamins and energy are stored. It is this energy that allows you to perform daily tasks without getting tired quickly, or to lift heavy weights at the gym. It can also be like a cushion that protects each of your internal organs and your joints. Finally, like the skin, it helps regulate body temperature by acting as an insulator.
Because of its vital functions, a fat mass below 4% will prove to be dangerous to health in the long term. The healthy level for a man with a conventional lifestyle is around 18%, while for a woman it is around 25%. On the other hand, above 25% of fat mass in men and 32% in women, we can talk about obesity. In this case, it is necessary to reduce this rate little by little. You can melt the non-essential fat mass by following a balanced nutritional plan combined with regular exercise.
Lean body mass
It’s simple: everything that isn’t fat is the other component of the body, and that’s the lean mass. Bones, muscles, skin, other organs, water and blood are all part of lean body mass. Being a diverse and complex set of elements, it can account for up to 90% of an individual’s total weight.
Water, which is present everywhere in the body (in the blood, in the organs, inside and outside the cells, and even in fat tissue), transports oxygen and nutrients and carries away waste products. At the same time, it keeps the temperature constant while participating in the various chemical reactions the body undergoes. Bones, on the other hand, support the body structure and allow movement in collaboration with the muscles.
For aesthetic reasons, to be able to increase your strength or to accelerate your metabolism, it is possible to gain muscle mass. Although it is less voluminous than the fat mass, it is nevertheless heavier. This is something to keep in mind if you are looking to lose weight through sport. You can become discouraged if you think you’re not on the right track when your muscle mass has simply increased. This phenomenon even has the advantage of allowing you to burn more fat.
Therefore, the ideal way to objectively monitor your progress is to use a tape measure in addition to a scale. You can also measure your body composition with a dedicated device.
Body composition: how to know it?
The inside of the body remains a mystery, of course, but today you can find out approximately what your body is made up of with the help of several instruments.
- First of all, you can use the skin fold forceps, which can be manual or electronic. It is used by sportsmen, nutritionists but also by individuals who want to know their fat mass. Thanks to the average of 4 different measurements, you can easily calculate your fat content. This fairly realistic tool will be particularly useful if your main objective is to lose fat.
- If you are looking for a less technical and more complete device, you can opt for an impedance meter balance. Set up with your data (age, height, sex), it measures your weight and evaluates your water content. From this information, it deduces your body and muscle fat levels.
The water mass is constantly changing as a function of hydration. Therefore, the results of the impedance meter balance are not accurate. However, they do give a fairly reliable idea of weight distribution.
Read also: Water, an essential element of our body