Body Composition 

weight loss

What are the scales actually telling you? 

Do you understand your body weight?

WEIGHT is usually on of the first topics that come up in social discussion when people find out what my occupation is.  The number you are seeing when you step on the scale is not telling you the whole story about your personal health.

For most of us weight loss is about loosing the fat mass and hopefully gaining a higher lean muscle mass, but how do you know your losing or gaining the right type of body mass? Yes you could be losing or gaining weight according to the scales however what type of weight is the question.

If you really want to understand what your weight really means in relation to your personal health then we need to look at other metrics besides the number on a scale for success.

BMI and Body Composition:

Body Mass Index (BMI) is based on averages; it only provided us with an estimation of body fat that can be calculated using a person's height and weight.

A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 means your weight is normal, or "acceptable”

A BMI between 25 and 29.9 means you are overweight, and those with a BMI over 30 are considered obese.

REMEMBER this is only an estimation and is not reliable for everyone as it does not distinguish what percentage of total weight is lean tissue mass or fat mass. Your desired weight may also vary depending on your personal [and] health goals. Yes it is also possible to have a BMI status of normal weight but still have an unhealthy amount of fat compared to lean muscle.


Body Composition: refers to the proportion of fat tissue you have, relative to lean tissue (muscles, organs, etc.)

We know that if you can improve your body composition you can improve your quality of life and overall wellness. A higher lean muscles mass can also help naturally boost your metabolism, which is essential to weight maintenance.  Weighing yourself on a regular bathroom scale does not tell you your water, fat or lean mass percentage is. If you have a good body composition, your body fat percent is in a normal ‘healthy’ range.

Body Fat Ranges

 Source: Tanita Australia 


Body Composition Measures:

  • Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan: DEXA scans calculate body fat and bone density. Used for medical research and in medical centers.  
  • Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA): One of the most accessible ways to measure your body fat percentage. Most commonly used through many health clubs, gyms and through home BIA scales.  These devices send a tiny electrical current through your body. This current can estimate your total body water, which can then be used to estimate both lean mass and body fat percentage.
    • The measurements you get with a BIA device can fluctuate dramatically depending on how much water is in your body leaving a large gap for measurement error.
    • While the actual measurement of body fat from one of these scales is usually wrong, if this is the method that you will use consistently and you are using the same scale then it still works to measure success. You will still be able to see any changes to your body fat ratio and lean mass.
    • You should use the device under the same conditions every time you want to measure your body fat (e.g. in the morning, after having one glass of water but nothing to eat, straight after urinating).
  • Skinfold calipers: Measuring body fat involves using a handheld instrument known as a caliper to measure the thickness of folds of skin on different parts of the body. These measurements can then be plugged into a variety of equations to calculate body fat. 
    • Skinfold calipers may provide more accurate body fat readings at home, but you'll need training on how to use them.


Take Home Messages:

  • Body Weight is just one measure and certainly does not provide the whole picture for success. Yes muscle is denser than fat therefore weighs more.  
  • So what are your scales telling you?

If you’re interested to learn more about the impacts of body composition on metabolism then click here to read my blog on metabolism.