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Body Composition Assessment Is Critical on a Diet or Exercise Program


On February 14th and 15th, I’m offering free body composition assessments!  Be sure to check for the locations, times, and proper protocol for testing – properly hydrated, but no food, alcohol, or exercise within 5 hours before testing.

Whether you embark on an exercise program or make dietary changes, it’s important to establish a base line body composition assessment – with regular re-assessments – to prevent the loss of lean, metabolically active muscle tissue that burns ninety percent of the calories consumed.

While muscle carries you through life, body fat is something you carry around. Excessive visceral abdominal fat that surrounds vital organs may expose the overfat individual to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Over my 40 years of working with professional and college athletes, as well as, the non-athletic and recreational public, I’ve used multiple forms of body composition assessment – such as underwater immersion, skin calipers, UV-absorption, bio-electrical impedance, (BIA) and dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) – the gold standard today. provides a gender and activity-based body composition status:


Essential Fat: 10-13 %
Athletes: 14-20%
Fitness: 21-24%
Acceptable: 25-31%
Obese: 32% or more


Essential Fat: 2-5%
Athletes: 6-13%
Fitness: 14-17%
Acceptable: 18-24%
Obese: 25% or more

Body mass index (BMI) – your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared –  is also used as an accepted assessment of underweight, normal, overweight, and obese status – with the exception that the formula can be skewed by an athletic population, who typically carry more muscle mass than a non-athlete. BMI may falsely label the larger, lean athlete as overweight or obese.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an adult, who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 as overweight. An adult, who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese – while a BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight. Between 18.5 to 24.9 is considered to be a healthy weight.

In conjunction with the DXA scan, a three-compartment assessment – muscle, fat, and bone, which provides a breakdown of an individual’s body composition — arms, legs, and trunk regions, then categorizes fat patterns – male android and female gynoid fat patterns –  I also use a much simpler, transportable, and accurate body composition measurement (within 5% of DXA) – BIA – to assess body mass changes, while on a calorie restricted eating plan and/or exercise program.

BIA technology, which has been around since 1944, is used in both sports and clinical settings to estimate percent body fat, lean, fat, and bone mass, along with body mass index (BMI) – with the added benefit to estimate resting energy expenditure – representing 65% of the calories an individual utilizes in a day.

BIA uses a very low, safe, electrical signal from four metal electrodes that is sent through your feet to your legs and abdomen. In segmental models, the electrodes will provide extra readings for each leg, arm, and abdominal area.  

The signal passes quickly through water that is present in hydrated muscle tissue. When the signal encounters fat tissue, it meets resistance. This resistance, known as impedance, is measured and input into scientifically validated equations to calculate body composition measurements. Body composition measurements are typically provided under 20 seconds. 

Individuals with electronic medical implants – like pacemakers – should avoid measurement.

BIA also assesses the phase angle, “a proxy marker of muscle quality,” which can change as a result of muscle damage, loss, or age – sarcopenia – the age-associated loss of muscle and strength – dynapenia.

Recently, I secured two BIA units – Tanita TBF-400 – one located on the North Shore at my Covington GNC franchise at Highway 21 and Brewster Road, and the South Shore at 8847 Veterans Memorial Blvd in the Westgate Shopping Center – to offer access to accurate body composition assessment for our customers.

Mackie and April share exerises every Wednesday on WWL-TV

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