5 ways to Test Your Body Composition


Even if your weighing scale shows your weight within a normal range, you can still have an altered or unhealthy body composition. So, what is unhealthy body composition? It usually refers to the excess body fat in comparison to your lean muscle mass; in short, it is the unwanted fat content in your body.

Here’s what you need to know about body composition that will help determine the unwanted fat percentage in your body.

1. Skin fold Calipers

Quick, easy to use and reasonably accurate, skin fold calipers are subject to high variability and display inaccurate body fat if the individual has localized body fat. In this method, calipers are used to measure the thickness of two layers of skin. It takes the subcutaneous into account at various places including triceps, abdomen, love handle area, shoulder blade, and calf. These measurements are calculated to get the sum of skin folds which equates skin fold total to the percent body fat.

2. DEXA Scan

DEXA Scan is an effective way of testing your body composition. It works on the principle of x-ray scan. The person lies on the table and x-ray radiation passes through it that distinguishes fat from the muscles and bones. It also measures the intramuscular fat due to which DEXA’s body fat reading is usually 3 to 8 percent higher as compared to other measures.

3. Whole Body Plethysmography (Bod Pod)

This egg-shaped pod measures body fat quite accurately. When the subject enters into this bod pod, it measures the volume of air displaced. This also measures the overall density of subject. The density of human comprises of fat, muscle, bone and water. Thus, body fat is calculated from the overall body density.

4. Underwater/Hydrostatic Weighing

This underwater/hydrostatic fat measuring device is very accurate. But, it is difficult to find and the subject gets wet during the test. In this method, the person stays on a scale for at least 10 seconds underwater inside a water tank while exhaling the air from lungs until the scale stabilizes. Also, the density of muscle, fat, bone and water is calculated from the overall body density.

5. Bio Impedance

The biggest drawback of this method is that its readings are affected by skin temperature and hydration status. In this method, the individual either stands on a scale-like-device or holds a device in hand and pushes a button which sends a trivial amount of electric current through specific part of the body. This implies, the larger drop in the electric current, the greater is body fat percentage.