Measuring Body Composition – Circumference

Circumference Measurement 

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

It has been a few days, but in the last post I discussed BMI — in today’s post we will go over another form of body composition measuring; called circumference. 

When using this term, it means to measure the body’s “girth” using a tape measure. There are many sites that can be measured on the body using a tape measure, but typically you will see the thighs, waist, arms, chest and possibly the hips as well. pending what is important to you at the time, you may decide to measure all of the above or one particular part of the body. 

Measuring girth / circumference can have its advantages and disadvantages; personally I find that it is easy to use and inexpensive and now a days, you can purchase measuring tape specifically for body fat measuring on Amazon, and they aren’t much more than the original. 

Some disadvantages you will run into with using a a tape measure is, pending the type of clothing you are wearing, what you have recently digested, how tightly you hold the tape around you, and the placement of the tape around the specific body part will determine how accurate your number will be & it is highly recommended you have someone else measure you to make sure you get the best results. Keep in mind that knowing your circumference doesn’t mean you will know your body fat % necessarily but it can tell you if you have gained or lost inches, or perhaps it can be used when wanting to fit into something specific — such as knee sleeves ( I would know because I need knee sleeves for a competition in powerlifting and all of the websites recommended I measure my thighs in order to have the best fit). 

Utilizing this type of body composition tool can be helpful for starters but eventually you will want something more accurate depending on how serious you want to be about reaching your goals and how serious you are about wanting to know where your body fat and weight is compared to where it was. Learn this type of body measuring to use as a reference in the future, but again don’t rely on it heavily because it definitely has its disadvantages. 

BMI – Body Mass Index

Measuring Body Composition

Part one 

So, I am almost sure most of you have heard of the word “BMI” or body mass index. Most doctors of medicine today still use this as a prescribed way of letting their patients know if they are within a healthy weight class (hints why when you go for appointments, they check your height and weight). 

As a personal trainer, I have my own reservations when it comes to utilizing BMI with my clients due to the fact it leaves out A LOT of information but at a Dr’s office, they only need to know the basics unless for some reason your health brings up some concern — otherwise don’t expect them to look much further than the BMI system. 

When would I use it?

  • with the general population 
  • if my gym didn’t offer other forms of body composition measurement options
  • if my client was to ask me
  • if their doctor was to tell me that they need to work towards a certain weight range for their height (specifically)
  • or if I need a general idea of where my client’s healthy weight range should be (although this can easily be argued pending circumstances)
When would I NOT use it?
  • with athletes
  • if I have better body composition measurement options available to me
  • If my client doesn’t care to know their BMI information
  • if my client isn’t trying to lose, gain or maintain weight (they have more specific needs: muscle mass, rehabilitation exercises, etc) 
  • With clients with  an obsession with checking their weight — obviously initially I would have them weigh in; but for some people they need a strict planning for when to check weight because many times when people are obsessed with the numbers on a scale and don’t see the results they want, it brings them down – causes anger, frustration, depression and I want to avoid those feelings with my client when possible. Not to mention, I don’t want having their BMI checked daily to start becoming a thing so, I would introduce the idea if need be but restrict it for certain days and times if possible and work with them more on how they feel and look vs a number. Make them comfortable with themselves and build their self confidence.
  • As a means to tell someone their overall health 
BMI is important, yes, but not important for everyone — BMI doesn’t take into account our body fat % or how much lean muscle mass we have — so it leaves out details, and categorizes people by their height and weight which can give false readings. For example, for the general population this would be a beneficial form of measurement because most of these clients are everyday people looking to become healthy and currently live sedentary lifestyles or very low activity lifestyles. Whereas, someone who is bodybuilder or basketball player have a very active lifestyle and probably have more specific needs. 
The issue is, someone who is a bodybuilder who weighs 190lbs at 5’8 is considered overweight — which is the same for someone who is inactive at 5’8 and weights 190 lbs is considered overweight as well (regardless of male or female). obviously the bodybuilder isn’t overweight – BUT if we base it off only BMI then technically by those terms he or she is (which is unfair and gives people a false perception of themselves)
As a personal trainer, whenever I measure someone’s BMI, I always explain what it means and how it contributes to the person’s well-being — but for all of my clients, especially athletes there are much better measurement methods to determine a precise read on someone’s overall weight/health/and body fat content (which I will speak upon in part two of body composition). 
The one thing to take away from this, BMI is very vague and doesn’t take into account other details besides height and weight — so with this being said, there are better, more precise methods to take into account before you decide to rely on just this form of body measurement. 

Glutamine Supplementation

Glutamine 

Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

Glutamine comes in both powder and pill form. It is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body, and considered essential for intestinal function, immune response, and amino acid homeostatis during times of severe stress.

Main purpose: Serves as a building block for protein. 

Also considered as a “conditionally essential amino acid”; must be obtained from diet under certain conditions (injury or illness)

Keep an eye out for these foods (they have a good source of glutamine)

  • Eggs
  • beef
  • skim milk
  • tofu 
  • white rice
  • corn
(meat and other animal products are the simplest way to get high doses of it — virtually any food with protein will have some form of glutamine within it)
Fun fact: Studies have shown a real need for glutamine high diets, and foods after major injuries  — leading to shorter hospital stays after surgery & improved health
Intestinal health 
 
Glutamine is an important energy source for the intestines 
  • Serves as a barrier between the inside of your intestines and rest of your body — protecting against leaking gut 
Muscle gains & Exercise Performance
 
  • Decrease muscle soreness & improve recovery after intense exercise
  • no difference in strength & mass when taking glutamine supplements 
Overall, this is a supplement you may be getting the most from your foods, and it isn’t needed as an aid, but for those of us who don’t eat high protein diets or animal products, it may be wise to start taking this supplement or looking into it after surgery in order to help with recovery. 
Personally, I have taken glutamine supplementation — still do, daily and it has helped with recovery and then some in my opinion but doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same way. 
 
 

Susan G Komen Breast Cancer 5k

Saturday I partook in my first 5k run — and I did it to raise money for breast cancer. I met some new people and took some selfies with my team afterwards. If you want to check out more photos from the race, follow my Instagram page — ShayFitnessWonderWoman

It was a wonderful time and I was happy I could partake in an event with a great community & to have had a team with my gym I work at. I definitely found the run a challenge considering I am not a long distance runner by any means, but I finished and that is truly awesome in my book! The last picture is of a gentlemen who stopped me after the race to applaud me and made mention of how he runs for a living; he was from out of town and we both shared stories of having members of our family either battle or die from cancer. I found out later he won 3rd place in his age group and funny story, because I ended up keeping up with him the whole time and I feel honored to have done so, because he did amazing!

If you haven’t had a chance to do a 5k , please give it a go, just for the experience. I think it feels good when you finish a race — especially when you have no plans on winning or beating a certain time, you just do it for the community involvement and the cause and for the pure enjoyment of knowing you did something new and worthwhile for yourself.

If you are a 5k runner or have done one in the past, share your experiences in the comment section, get more people running and staying active 😀

BCAAs — Supplements

Take What You Need

“Branch-Chained Amino Acids”

Never taken BCAAs during.before or after your workout? You probably aren’t missing out on anything if you eat a variety of foods & keep your health maintained with ample water intake, but even with a perfect nutritional base — some people still decide to take BCAAs, and you probably want to know why. 

For starters, you probably didn’t realize what these BCAAs are: they are your “essential amino acids consisting of leucine, isoleucine, and valine — basically to sum it up these 3 words comprise close to 35% of your body’s muscle protein. I’ll assume you understand protein & muscle — if not, I’ll explain in a future post. Why are these essential? because your body doesn’t make them on its own! YOU GUESSED IT: if we have to get these from food or supplement sources — easy enough? 

This post is for informational purposes only, so opinions are welcome. but I am not here to lecture you in either direction — I have always been an advocate of getting the most from your food groups then if that becomes an issue, to extend your horizons and choose healthy alternatives –– so if you take them, GREAT! if you don’t, GREAT! 

The purpose of BCAAs?

  • help with enhancing muscle recovery after your workout
  • GNC referenced “leucine is the star player in higher quality BCAAs”  more of it and less of the other two make it worth your dollar. 
  • Helps to limit fatigue
  • Can benefit those during their weightloss journey when paired with good nutrition, good workout regimen, and when paired with glutamine (i’ll go over this supplement in a future post) which will help normalize visceral fat
  • BCAAs can reduce your D.O.M.S – delayed onset muscle soreness 
The best BCAA supplements are up in the air, but when it comes to food try eating more chicken, eggs, tuna, salmon, cottage cheese, etc (aka do your research)  & the fun fact: BCAAs can be taken during, before and after your workout– no harm done! 
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