What kind of fat are you?

“Anything worth doing is worth measuring.”
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I don't care who you are, everybody likes to see the numbers. Even mathphobes (read: me) are assured or reassured (and sometimes terrified) by seeing the cold, hard facts. It doesn't in any way mean we have to like them. But having numbers to compare - on anything of value - is money in the bank (see what I did there).

I’m talking specifically about body weight and body composition. You know (because we told you) that the number on the scale is essentially meaningless without context. What kind of weight matters a lot. And we all know the easy stuff: muscle weighs more than fat, weak and fluffy is no match for lean and strong, you can weigh more and look thinner, more muscle + less fat = sexier.

Don’t think so? Check out this blog post. You can’t argue with results.

But, you ask, what numbers do you have, numbers guy? 

Fair enough. Jess’s size 4 fits the same (better, actually) and we have stronger, faster numbers in her journal. But I take your point. What else do we have for simple, straight-up mathematical surety?

Which brings us to the question, How, exactly, do we measure body composition? Turns out there are several ways. The gold standard for years has been hydrostatic or the “dunk tank”. Works great but inconvenient. They have to come to you (better have a group or it’s really expensive) or you have to go to them. Wherever that is. The Bod Pod (an Air Displacement Plethysmograph) is also accurate but usually confined to university athletic training centers. Again, not so practical. Then there are those cheap, readily available bio-impedance thingies. They can be built into your scale or hand held in there simplest forms. They measure electrical signals as they pass through the body. Wildly inaccurate and hard to reproduce consistent measurements. 

There are also CT scans, MRI’s, Total Body Electrical Conductivity, Near Infrared Interactance and Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (x-rays, what could possibly go wrong?), not to mention good old calipers. All of these have their positives and issues, advocates and detractors.

Where does this leave us? Besides confused? 

Ultrasound. Turns out the technique safe and accurate enough to look at unborn babes (and dudes) and available to nearly anybody works great for measuring body composition. 

What’s that mean to you? Current members keep an eye on your Inbox while non-members stay tuned right here for more info.

Don’t you love a mystery…?