InBody Assessments, Part 2: What InBody Tells Us & How to Get the Most Accurate Results
By: Rob Coates, Personal Training Director, Toronto Athletic Club
In Part 1 of this series on InBody Assessments, we talked about Dinosaurs and, more importantly, Body Fat Testing. I outlined why calipers are no longer the industry standard and the reasons why we’ve shifted to using an InBody Unit as our primary tool for measuring body composition here at the Club.
This time, I’ll talk a little less about my classmate BamBam Flintstone and how we used to race Stegosauruses, instead focusing more on all of the great data we can glean from a couple of minutes on the InBody, in addition to the steps we need to take to ensure the most accurate test.
What the InBody Tells Us:
- Skeletal Muscle Mass:
- What’s the most metabolically active tissue in our body? What tissue, when increased, helps improve our bloodwork most? What’s the hardest tissue to build, especially as we age? What tissue is the best indicator of Physical and Metabolic Health? Skeletal Muscle. We tend to get a little too focused on percentage of body mass that’s fat. But, like many things in the Health and Wellness space, as we get better observational, statistical, and practical data – we shift our focus. If you had to choose just one thing to focus on for your health, building muscle needs to be in the running for #1 on the list.
- Fat Mass and Body Fat %:
- Why did I mention Muscle first and Body Fat second? Because, if you increase your muscle mass, that’s the healthiest way to improve your % Body Fat. Second, by increasing your muscle mass, you increase your resting metabolism and over a long enough period of time will see a decrease in body fat mass, all things staying equal.
- Percentage Body Fat & BMI:
- Body Fat % is a ratio of muscle to fat and we’re all in agreement that muscle mass is more important to improve than fat mass. The issue with this number in a vacuum is there are so many different body types, levels of leanness, and natural propensity to build muscle that I’d encourage everyone to focus less on this metric.
- Body Mass Index:
- BMI is becoming a more and more arcane measurement. As we know, it’s a measurement of Body Weight vs. Height. BMI says most people with physiques you admire are overweight or even obese because it doesn’t differentiate between good weight (muscle) and bad weight (fat). As an example, if you increased your muscle mass by 5lbs (a difficult thing to do, but indicative of an improvement in your health) your BMI would go up. We pay the least attention to this metric.
- Segmental Lean Analysis:
- One of the flaws with other measurement systems was the body got measured as a single cylinder – we’re not 1 cylinder, we’re 5. With the foot contacts and arm handles, the InBody can tell us how much muscle you have in each of your limbs independently. This is important when assessing use vs overuse in the muscles that correlate to each of your joints. We often experience pain in areas of overuse so when we look at a Member’s InBody results, we find they have more muscle where their overuse pain occurs because, well… they overuse that limb. Human’s naturally compensate with whatever’s strongest. Increasing the muscle and strength of the smaller/underused limb can spread our resources more evenly and diminish overuse of a dominant limb and the resulting pain.
- Extra-Cellular Water vs. Total Body Water:
- There are textbooks with charts demonstrating how our total body water decreases as we age. Every single process in our body relies on water. I’ve had clients who think all manner of things were wrong with them and simply making a concerted effort to drink more water resolved their issue. As an aside, adding electrolytes can be helpful. But only reach for the sugar-free Gatorade, unless you’re doing VERY intense exercise. Large variances in this number often signal the need for a follow-up with your doctor as well.
- Visceral Fat
- This is the fat that we store around our internal organs and is generally the best indicator of metabolic health. This is a proxy for waist-to-hip ratio which has replaced BMI as an indicator of risk for disease. If you eat too much processed food, consume too much sugar or wheat or consume too much alcohol, you’ll likely see that manifest as a high level of visceral fat. Removing the dietary causes is part of the equation. Supplements like Fish Oil and even certain Probiotics can help your body mobilize and burn this stubborn type of fat. But you can’t exercise (or supplement) your way out of a bad diet. Diet and Lifestyle changes will help your gained muscle burn this stored fat.
If you’re interested in having these metrics measured, we’d be happy to help.
If you'd like to book an InBody Assessment at the Club, please contact:
Lauren Neal, Adelaide Club
Rob Coates, Toronto Athletic Club
Sean O'Neil, Cambridge Club