Body Composition – BIA

BIA Measurements (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis)

So we are on our last body composition phase now and this time we have something a little more techy  compared to the last 3 body composition measurements. My gym had a handheld version of this technology but now we no longer use it, and use something a little more savvy called “Evolt” — which I will talk about in another post (because I have only used it once & it is a new form of technology for me) 

For those of you who are new to BIA, it measures body composition (typically body fat and body mass) using a weak electric current that flows through the body & the voltage is measured in order to calculate impedance/resistance of the body. The current is effected by the amount of water in the body (including blood, etc)

I personally found that I enjoyed using this method of measurement for my clients for a while because it was non invasive and gave them a sense of where their body fat lies compared to only managing weight — which as a personal trainer, I truly believe that body fat is much more important to look at than to look at only weight. 

However, there are pros and cons of using this mechanism that one should keep in mind when utilizing it. 

a

PROS:

  • Non invasive form of body composition
  • pending the type you buy, it can range in price from cheap to more expensive
  • handheld device available
  • clients are able to be fully clothed —  which for many people makes them happy
  • some gyms carry this device 
  • easy to use 
  • user friendly
  • more perspective about the body (body fat) not just weight
  • quick method
CONS:
  • Body geometry is different in an obese persons & that means water distribution could differ too 
  • It can under predict body fat or over predict 
  • some studies have shown that BIA has high amounts of errors 
  • It is recommended you use BIA over an extended about of time — so basically every 3-6 months instead of short term evaluations for better results. 

If all else fails, use multiple methods or have a professional in the field take your body composition with something more up to date and accurate – with science and technology constantly changing and developing; there are always better methods being invented. 

Body Composition Measurements: Skinfolds

Skinfold measurements

It has been awhile since my last blogging post – sorry about the long pause, I was trying to get a new structure going for my clients at the gym / working on my own scheduling so I wouldn’t be driving back and forth so often/ and working on getting to know the new clients I have taken on, not to mention, my gym had a grand opening and I wanted to be present so I could sell myself to possible new members. With all this being said, I took a break from blogging & haven’t been as present on Instagram either BUT this will all change, I am going to start back at blogging and getting on instagram more often again so I can rebuild myself as a personal trainer and have recent post for my clients at the gym to read. On that note, I am going to continue where I left off talking about body composition measurements. 

Skinfolds, have any of you heard of this before? In college was my first time being introduced to it and learning how to properly measure someones body using calipers. Since then I haven’t used this method in a really long time, and my gym doesn’t use this method — we have something new called “evolt” (high tech machine) and seems like it will be the future for body composition measurements. Anyways, for those of you who don’t know what I mean when I say “skinfold measurements” — it is another way of saying pinching the skin using calipers & basically there are multiple ways of doing this:

1) The 7 site skinfold 

2) The 3 site skinfold 

Men and women have different areas of the body that needed measured during the skinfold measurement. If we are doing the 7 site skinfold — both men and women will need to use the calipers to measure: chest, abdomen, thigh, triceps, axilla, subscapula, suprailliac 

For women the 3 site skinfold sites: Triceps, thigh, suprailliam

For men the 3 site skinfold sites: Chest, thigh, abdomen

Steps to take proper skinfold measurements:

  1. Identify which part of the body you will be taking the measurement. Take ALL measurements on the RIGHT side of the body. 
  2. Grasp the skinfold firmly with the thumb and index finger of the left hand
  3. Hold the calipers perpendicular to the site, place the pads of the calipers approximately 1-4 inches from the thumb and forefinger
  4. Approximately after 1-2 seconds after the trigger has been released, read the dial to the nearest 0.5mm
  5. A minimum of two measurements should be taken at each site with at least 15 seconds between the measurements to allow the fat to return to its normal thickness.
  6. Continue to take measurements until two measurements vary by less than 1 mm
Once finished you will want to do the calculations for fat weight and lean weight. 
Pros/cons?
Of course there are some pros and cons using this method, but for the most part personal trainers learn this method early on because it can be a decently accurate method if done correctly and efficiently. 
I’d say the con that seems to bother people the most is the fact they have to show their body in the first place — especially if they feel self conscious about their physique and/or weight, Most clients will not be a fan of this if they are self conscious / low self esteem/ modest/ or don’t like the feeling of the calipers pinching their skin. While the positive I have seen is, the fact clients then know where the majority of their fat stores inside their body. 
I think the important thing to take away from using this instrument is taking your time and being as precise as possible and being empathetic towards clients whom may not feel comfortable having their fat seen or pinched. Otherwise, I would say it is a great tool due to it being relatively inexpensive, and small enough it can be taken anywhere. 
Leave me comments if you are someone who has used skinfold measurements for yourself or others? 

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. 
 
 
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