October 5, 2021

Body Composition: What It Is and What You Need to Know

Body composition is the best indicator for your health, whereas scale’s number aren’t. The scale cannot tell you whether you are building muscle or losing fat. The number on the scale isn’t always an accurate reflection of your overall health. By looking at the scale, you can’t tell if you’re gaining muscle or losing fat.


  • Chad Walding, a doctor in physical therapy, is the co-founder of NativePath.
  • Danyele Wilson works as a trainer with Tone & Sculpt.

If you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle, knowing your body composition will give you a better understanding of your body. It can also help you determine if your weight is healthy and appropriate.

What Is Body Composition?

It is the ratio of fat and nonfat mass in your body to lean tissue like muscles, bones, water, and other organs.

Measurement of Body Composition?

The measurement of body composition is more difficult than that of body weight. Chad Walding, a physical therapist, and Danyele Wilson, a trainer, have outlined a few methods to determine body composition.

  • Bioelectrical impedance is a small electrical current that passes through your body. Handheld scales or BIA body weight scales are simple step on scaled. They determine the weight. It can be measure using scales like Fitbit Aria 2 which can also sync with your fitness tracker to show the effect on your weight.
  • Skinfold Measurements; trainers use this method for weight loss plans. Calipers measure different areas of your body like your abdomen, thighs, lower back, arms and calculate the body fat percentage.
  • DEXA scan: Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Determining your best body composition is often a scan that is performed in a medical setting.
  • Measuring your body on water and land is hydrostatic weighing. The difference determines your body’s density. The more you weigh underwater, the more body fat you have.

Body Composition vs. Weight

Your body composition is not assessed by weighing yourself on a bathroom scale. A regular scale can’t tell how much of your weight is water, fat or muscle. This is what body composition will tell. Walding says it is a better indicator for health and fitness.

Scale weight is not a singular unit of measurement.It is only one piece of information that makes up a larger puzzle. Wilson explains that “skinny” does not necessarily mean “healthy.” A low body fat does not always indicate “healthy” and vice versa.

Some people have a body weight that is within the healthy limits for their height but very little muscle and a high body fat percentage. A heavier person could have a lower percentage of body fat and more lean muscle.

“Body fat percent is a measure of body composition. It reveals how much fat your body carries. Walding explains that there are normal levels of body fat. These ranges can vary for women and men.

Normal body fat percentages are between 17.6% and 25.3% for males, and 28.8% to 35.7% for women.


You can measure your body composition to determine the uniqueness of your body and identify areas that need to be improved.

Two people with the same height, sex and weight could look totally different and have completely different health problems because of their different composition. Wilson says that assessing the composition of a person to determine their fitness goals or assess their overall health should be the preferred method.

The Body Mass Index is not a good indicator of your health, but body composition is better than the traditional Body Mass Index. Because body composition analysis can show changes in fat, muscle mass and body fat percentage, it is a better indicator of your fitness than the traditional BMI. Walding says that healthy body composition is characterized by a lower body fat percentage and a higher proportion of non-fat mass (including muscle and bones).

However, this measurement tool has its limitations. It’s just one of many areas to be considered when assessing your overall health and well-being. Walding says that it is important to include blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol numbers as well as waist size, fasting sugar and triglycerides when presenting a larger picture of one’s overall health.

Factors That Influence Body Composition

You cannot control other factors that can affect your body composition such as gender, race, and age. Other factors can also influence your body composition and can be altered.

Your nutrition is important. Focusing on whole foods and lean proteins will help you stay healthy. Walding suggests that physical activity is also important. Walding recommends that you aim for at least 30 minutes per day.

The Takeaway

There are many factors that you need to take into consideration when trying to see a complete picture of your health. There is more to health than one type of measurement.

Wilson advises that Tone & Sculpt athletes should stop focusing on the numbers and instead look at the larger picture. Wilson suggests that you consider your unique composition, lifestyle, nutrition, sleep, mental health, and a host of other factors that can impact your physical progress and overall health.