“Body Composition Testing: Why You Should Do It” by Cathy Cruz, MS Nutrition & Integrative Health, ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist

As a fitness-focused family at CrossFit Baltimore, we hear a lot about making ourselves better as athletes on the daily, right? We train hard, we do extra workouts and focus on our weakness, but sometimes we forget about the other pieces at play in this equation. We talk about nutrition to fuel our workouts and in the past, we’ve taken that a step further by using nutrition to target fat loss and body composition. This is important for a number of very uncomplicated reasons including, but certainly not limited to improving how we move through space. 

I’ve done several body composition tests over the last few years, even administering some during my time as a nutrition student. I’ve had scans done on a Tanita scale, through DEXA, and most recently through InBody at CFB. These different tools provide much of the same data, but one might be missing something that another method includes. The Tanita scale is one that I used during my clinical nutrition rotations. The Tanita uses bioelectrical impedance analysis, as does the DEXA, and InBody. I was able to see readings for my Body Weight, Body Fat percentage, as well as the measurement of Visceral Body Fat (fat around vital organs in the abdominal region), and my Total Body Water percentage. 

My recent InBody scan showed some interesting data that I was able to compare with a DEXA scan I’d done just a month ago. Something to note is that the two scans were done at different times of the day, so when reviewing the data, I made sure to keep this in mind. However, I was primarily impressed with the reading for my Total Body Water Percentage. Within the last 2 weeks, I’ve significantly improved my daily hydration, aiming for 60-70 ounces of water each day. Prior to this, if you were to ask how much water I’d had, my answer would’ve been “Whatever was used to make my coffee”. As I noticed the rising temps and how much I was sweating during my training, I knew that this needed to change ASAP!

I’ve felt so much better just including more water each day. The InBody scan showed me that I had a Total Body Water Percentage of about 58% based on my body weight. The recommended percentage for women is between 45% and 60%. Healthy body water percentage can tell you that you are hydrating properly, but also correlates to the amount of lean muscle you have. My Lean Body Mass was higher in my InBody scan than it was in my DEXA from April, so this data makes a lot of sense to me. Another thing to note is that poor hydration can directly affect the accuracy of any body composition scan. So, if you’re taking the time and paying the money for a scan, make sure the data is on point by taking hydration seriously. 

Even without knowing too much about nutrition or body composition, you should see by now that these various factors play a role in the whole body health picture. For everything to run smoothly and to see the results that we say we want, we need to consider that consistent good nutrition, hydration, recovery, and quality sleep must all be present. Notice Recovery and Sleep are two DIFFERENT things. Recovery means making sure that you obtain adequate recovery from your training. Quality sleep means at least 8 hours of sleep each night. All of this is possible if you want it to be. Make the effort to learn about yourself and use that data to be the best you that you can possibly be! No Excuses.

***As mentioned, InBody Scans are now available at CrossFit Baltimore.