5 Things to Know About Body Composition Testing

PLN explains the benefit of body composition testing and how it can give you an edge in your fitness journey

Published December 29, 2022

5 minute read

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5 Things to Know about Body Composition Testing


Technology has made it easier and more accurate than ever to find ways to measure body composition. But there are still people who insist on using "proven methods" like body weight and BMI to figure out how healthy they are. If you only care about short-term goals, like losing 5–10 pounds, then a scale may be enough. But if you are serious about improving your health and getting long-term results, using an accurate way to measure your body composition can increase your chances of success.


By testing your body composition, you can get an idea of what your current body weight is made of. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the number on the scale says or how your weight compares to your age or height. It's more important to figure out how much of your body weight comes from fat, water, bones, and muscle.

 You lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. 


Because it can tell the difference between lean body mass and fat mass, measuring your body composition values is a much better way to tell if your weight is healthy or not than the BMI.

This is important for understanding your cardiometabolic risk. Cardiometabolic risk is the risk that you will get diabetes, heart disease, or a stroke.


Also, it turns out that percent body fat is a better screening tool for predicting cardiovascular disease, which is a group of problems with the heart and blood vessels that make you more likely to get heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. 

Measuring your body composition can help you figure out how likely you are to get serious conditions like cardiometabolic diseases, so you can take care of yourself before the symptoms start to affect your quality of life.

What That Means For You

Even if your weight is within the normal ranges recommended by the WHO, your body fat percentage is probably a better indicator of whether you will develop cardiometabolic conditions later in life.

As far as the people in the study knew, everything was fine. Their body weights suggested that they were in a healthy weight range, and there was no reason to think that they were at risk for putting on too much fat mass. This is why it's important to keep an eye on your body composition as soon as you can. It shows you these silent risks and helps you avoid or lower the chances of them happening. You can't know about these risks or problems until you take a closer look at your body.

The normal body fat percentage levels:


  • For men: 10-20%
  • For women:  18-28%

2. You lower your chances of having health problems caused by high cholesterol. 


Cholesterol is fat that is found in your blood. Cholesterol is a necessary part of healthy cells, but when it builds up in your veins, it increases your risk of cardiometabolic diseases like stroke and heart disease.  

In a study published by the Mayo Clinic last year, the recommended body fat percentage range was linked to higher levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL). By increasing HDL, the levels of harmful cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) go down by a lot.

What This Means for You

The link between cholesterol and body fat percentage means that most people don't need to worry as much about cholesterol in their bloodstream if their body fat percentage is within the normal range.

As we wrote in last year's analysis of the Mayo Clinic study, if your body fat percentage is less than 20% for men and 28% for women, you have a much lower chance of having problems related to high cholesterol.

3. You'll be able to recognize the signs of prediabetes early. 


If you want to lower your risk of getting diabetes, it helps to know how much fat, muscle, water, and bones you have. The key, as with many diseases, is to find it early. The problem is that the symptoms of this long-term disease can be so mild that most people don't notice problems until they've been happening for years.   


What This Means For You

You can't use BMI alone to figure out if you're likely to get diabetes, just like you can't use body fat percentage alone to figure out if you'll get heart disease or high cholesterol.

In their conclusion, the researchers said that measuring body fat percentage is a better way to diagnose impaired glucose tolerance (or prediabetes) than combining BMI and waist circumference measurements. 

But don't forget the value of muscle. For every 10% increase in muscle mass, the risk of prediabetes goes down by 12%.

4. You lower your chances of dying early.


A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that, regardless of BMI, a higher body fat percentage is linked to a higher all-cause mortality rate.

Another study found that both fat mass and lean body mass, not just body fat percentage, were independent predictors of all-cause mortality for both men and women, even after adjusting for health factors like age and smoking history.

What This Means For You

The numbers on the scale and your BMI don't say much about your overall health. You need a more accurate way to measure your body composition, including both your fat mass and your lean body mass so that you can keep an eye on your health risk and increase your chances of living a long life.

5. You'll get more physically fit and be more likely to change how your body looks. 


Instead of focusing on your weight or BMI, the American College of Sports Medicine says you should track your body composition. This will help you get better at sports and heal faster. 


It has been shown that keeping track of your body composition on a regular basis and aiming for a healthy balance of muscle and fat can help you get more out of your workouts and recover from them faster.


What This Means For You

Whether you want to swim farther or use a heavier kettlebell in your next workout, reducing your fat mass and increasing your lean body mass will increase your stamina and make your recovery time shorter.




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