7 Facts About Body Composition
7 reasons why your body composition metrics matter more as a measure of fitness than your weight
The importance of body composition as a true measure of fitness and health has exploded in recent years. The amount of muscle and body fat that we each carry has become increasingly important in identifying peak fitness. In fact, the NFL now sets up 6 BOD PODs at the NFL Combine every year. They test the athletes to determine muscle mass and body fat.
BODPODs are manufactured by Cosmed USA. BOD POD is considered the gold standard in body composition measurement. It provides a highly accurate measurement of body composition using a proprietary technology called Air Displacement Plethysmography. It was invented with a grant from the National Institute of Health and it’s used by hospitals and elite athletic programs worldwide.
Why body composition matters so much
1). Without a body composition test, you can’t know the true nature of body composition/weight change. There are countless cases of men and women who looked fairly average prior to a commitment to diet change and increased exercise. Once they reached their fitness transition goal, they actually weighed more than before they started their program. This happens when we greatly reduce fat and add substantial amounts of muscle. We look and feel fantastic. And, many often actually wear a smaller dress or pants size (especially waste circumference). Plus, we are infinitely healthier because we carry far less body fat.
2). Many choose to diet and lose weight without strength training. Most don’t understand that without weight bearing exercise, they are losing muscle and fat. Since we all lose fat and muscle at different rates, it’s possible to lose weight yet increase body fat percentage.
3). Coaches have come to understand that there is a substantial difference between a 250 athlete with 20% body fat and one with 10%. The 10% athlete carries 25 pounds more muscle! Weight alone is misleading.
4). Beyond its use to measure muscle mass, some NFL teams take the importance of body composition data even further. They include body composition as part of a formula that is used to predict the likelihood of player injury. Athletes who are more fit are less likely to be injured.
5). For high school and college athletes who participate in summer weightlifting, base line body composition testing and follow-up testing at the end of state mandated lifting programs can be invaluable when used to measure muscle mass change. Teen athletes go through huge growth spurts at unpredictable times. Big gains in weight can often be misleading. A simple pair of BOD POD tests will verify the quality of weight gain. Plus, body composition data can be even more valuable for athletes attempting to attract scholarship offers.
6). Muscle does weigh more than fat. A person who makes dramatic changes in diet and adds weight lifting to lose weight will likely increase muscle mass while decreasing body fat. They may become frustrated if they focus on weight only. Ironically, most are far healthier than they suspect because body fat percentage declines dramatically.
7). Body image validation. Mothers of teenage daughters have indicated that they love having their daughters tested for body composition. Many of these girls are accomplished athletes. They are super fit and have very low body fat. However, their muscle structure makes them feel fat. Female soccer players who develop rock solid quad muscles often struggle with this. A simple body comp test can often help redirect their focus to fitness and health, rather than a perceived weight problem.