Testing for body composition is easily available in Atlanta. Next Age Fitness has the only Fit3D Proscanner inside the 285 perimeter that not only gives body fat information, but also tracks major body measurements and provides a visual avatar that serves well for motivation. Though tracking with a gold standard method, it is currently gathering more data before releasing it from beta. I personally find it a good way to keep in line.
As long as you understand that ALL body composition results (from all methods) are based on a calculation and the only accurate result is done at the cadaver stage; then you will understand that it is not the number to focus on but the direction of the number. So in my opinion, multiple tests over time would be helpful to determine if your food and exercise routine is working as you had planned.
So, for me, I’m fine with a calculation; it’s better than nothing and who wants to wait until that cadaver stage anyway! So let’s talk Gold Standards and my experience/research of them. There are two gold standards: Hydrostatic and DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry):
Hydrostatic: I’ve done hydrostatic several times. Though I like the data (lean mass & fat mass), it is a test I have difficulty even thinking about doing more than once a quarter. The tests I’ve taken required swimming pool attire, getting into a tub of warm water and going down upon my knees. Facing down to the water, I am asked to put a weight on my back and emerge myself into the water while forcefully expelling all the air I could out of my lungs. Sounds simple. I just wasn’t that good at it. Therefore, I had to repeat it two more times. To me, it wasn’t easy. I loved the data it gave me, but felt it was a bit like drowning so not something I could reasonably expect to do every month. I had a hard time convincing myself to do it even quarterly. So the feedback loop became too long to make changes the would help my fitness goals.
DEXA scan: I have not yet done a DEXA scan, but I plan on doing it someday. DEXA scans measure a body’s absorbance of x-rays at two different energies. Fat, bone mineral and fat free soft tissue have different absorption properties, so the scan can estimate the body composition. It has the advantage of being able to provide bone density estimates and regional estimates of body composition. Sounds like great data to me. I personally shy away from any unnecessary radiation so I haven’t yet done the test. Because of my concerns, it would be unlikely that I could do it often enough to help me change my behavior.
Data is intriguing to me. Since human biology is not as simple as calories in and calories out, having information available to determine progress is valuable to me. If you want data without the drowning (or feeling like it) and without radiation, check out Next Age Fitness. The 3d body scan uses infrared and depth camera imagery to gather data and deliver body measurements, health trends and body fat calculations. Schedule a scan today!
More information on Body composition:
Importance of Body composition