How to understand your body composition

I’ve never been a fan of traditional scales. Why? Because they tell you so little about your body composition. In fact, that single digit on a scale means nothing. What if you’re retaining more water than usual or have been working hard in the gym to gain muscle (which weighs more than fat, by the way).

Then, you weigh yourself – and the number goes up, so you feel demotivated, when in fact you should be proud of your muscle gains or easy on yourself if you’re retaining water for whatever reason. 

ALSO SEE: My Best Weight-Loss Tips

Weighing in on body composition and more…

When I sit down with my clients for a consultation – we look at the body from a holistic point of view and focus on the mind as much as the body because in order to live a healthy, happy life, your mind and body need to be on board and on the same page. When they’re in sync, your weight naturally stabilises. So, we set goals together, create vision boards and look at things like sleep, gut health, stress and lifestyle factors – such as working hours etc.

Then, I work with my Tanita body composition scale to really understand the body from the inside out. I’ve worked with the Tanita body composition scale for years because it really gives me an accurate picture of my client’s overall health (as well as my own!).

The Tanita Body Composition scale assesses the following key areas: 

  • Weight (100g accuracy)
  • Physique rating
  • Body fat %
  • Body water %
  • Muscle mass
  • Muscle quality score
  • Bone mass
  • Metabolic age up to 99
  • Basal metabolic rate
  • Visceral fat rating

WATCH: These two short videos on how I use the Tanita scale to assess my clients

The 3 numbers I look at the most

While muscle mass, bone mass and body water percentages are important, there are 3 numbers I look at to assess my client’s overall health. These numbers also steer us in the direction of which goals to set first.

Body fat reading

The first number/measurement I look at on the Tanita body composition scale is body fat (highlighted above). Why? Because the way a person looks says very little about their body fat percentage or what’s going on inside their body. For instance, I have very slim-looking clients – but their body fat is quite high, and I have stronger/chubbier clients whose body fat percentage is acceptable and not damaging to their health.

Knowing your body fat is important because, according to the US Department of Health, excess body fat has been linked to a host of health problems and chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. It’s also been linked to metabolic syndrome – which is a cluster of health problems including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high sugar levels, which all have detrimental effects on the body. Yikes!


Metabolic age

The fitter and healthier you are, the lower your metabolic age will be, which is a good indicator of how well you’ll actually age! Your metabolic age is also based on your metabolic rate, ie. how many calories you burn a day to keep your body functioning optimally. My clients’ metabolic age tells me a lot about their overall health because if the metabolic age reading is lower than my client’s actual age, then I know they’re in good health. And if not, the goal is to bring this number down! I love that the Tanita body composition scale gives me this insight.

Visceral fat rating

Your visceral fat reading is very important because it reveals how much fat is sitting in your abdominal cavity and covering your organs. You can’t necessarily see this fat which is why it’s called visceral fat and not subcutaneous fat – but this fat is important to watch and manage because it influences how your hormones function, and it’s also been linked to numerous health problems such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional features

Besides taking these key measurements, the Tanita Body Composition Monitor BC 1000, has additional Health Centre Software with features to capture both progress shots and measurements, so it’s an all-in-one tool that does everything for you and stores it in one convenient place. Bonus!

If you’d like to see me for a body composition assessment- where I help you reach your diet and fitness goals, please;

Email me at lisa@lisaraleigh.co.za or Call 078 802 6660

And, if you want to learn more about the Tanita body composition scales, see their Facebook page here.