Body Composition Analysis: A Window Into Your Health.

Anybody who has been to Rainier Medical is all-too-familiar with the InBody analysis! Stepping on the machine every week or month is a rite of passage and is consistently reported as an integral part of the accountability which makes the program so successful. Why is it so much better than just the scale? Well, let’s see what information we can get from the InBody that we can not get from a simple scale and how that information potentially translates into important health prognosis. Is it a window into your future health?

Pull out your latest InBody sheet and let’s go through the components, what they mean, and how I use them in a prescriptive fashion for a program. This is how I interpret a scan for a patient:

Reference ranges: The report contains three categories for most variables measured. The “normal” range is represented by the hyphen (-), the range above normal has the arrow pointing up and the range below normal has the arrow pointing down. They also show both absolute numbers in pounds and percentiles for many readings. The percentile is shown as a percentage and is the percent of normal. For example, a trunk fat result showing 40 pounds and 300% means there is 40 pounds of fat in the trunk and that is 300% of normal. Take these ranges with the caveat that they are not adjusted for age or genetics, and it is expected that these may affect a person’s result. So, use them for reference but not absolute cutoffs, and focus more on brining your levels closer to the reference ranges, but it is not expected that they will necessarily go to the “normal” range. Most health benefits come from improvement.

Body Weight: This is the number you get on a scale. As you can see, it is a very small part of the InBody report. That is part of the reason that your body weight is just a number, and when you step on the scale in the morning, you need to remember there is so much more that goes into that number that is not shown on the scale! You are stepping on your home simple scale only for an estimate of what is going on and just to get a trend or one piece of data on a scatterplot. For the simple body weight to be meaningful, you need many data points over time.

Total Body Water: this is a large percentage of the total body weight, so you can see why your weight on the scale may fluctuate 3-5 pounds overnight in situations like dietary indiscretion, alcohol intake, hormone changes (menstrual cycle), airplane flights, or swelling due to increased exercise, or changes related to diuretic medication changes. The total body water tends to decrease about 3 pounds when a person transitions from a typical American diet to a diet that is low in processed foods and even more when on the Rainier Medical program. A reduction in excess water may be a marker of a “healthier” diet and may be associated in a reduction in systemic blood pressure and may reduce the workload on the cardiovascular system. After all, what has been the most common medication used to treat chronic hypertension which has shown reduced cardiovascular mortality: a diuretic, which reduces intravascular volume. So, which would you rather do: take a diuretic which can cause gout, osteoporosis, increased blood sugar, electrolyte abnormalities, or leg cramps, or change your diet? I know your answer to that question or you would not be reading this blog! This is part of the reason many people reduce or eliminate their need for blood pressure medication.

Total Body Fat Mass: This it the total pounds of fat in the body. Remember, it is normal, and imperative, to have body fat. This is the number to look at to see how many pounds of fat you are losing with a program, since it does not include changes in body water of muscle mass. But, not all fat is created equally, which is why we look further.