Biomarkers

Body Composition Analysis: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

By
Matthew Mace
On
January 05, 2023

What is body composition analysis, and why is it important? Find out how regular scans and tracking can protect your health and well-being.

Have you ever stood on a set of scales or calculated your BMI, only to be left more confused and perhaps even slightly defeated?

Traditional weight measurement tools, such as a set of scales and even body mass index (BMI) calculators, are outdated. Yep, we said it. Both of these methods do not account for muscle mass, bone density, and your overall body composition.

You could calculate the weight and BMI of a bodybuilder, for example, only to find that they are categorized as severely overweight. In reality, they have a lot more muscle mass than the average person.

That’s where body composition comes in. Body composition analyzes your body fat percentage, fat mass, lean mass, and bone density to give you a more accurate picture of your health. 

Body composition is associated with various chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis [4]. Better understanding body composition provides us with a greater understanding of our health—you can see changes in lean mass, and you can even measure fat distribution for various insights into your cardiac and metabolic health.

So, that’s why we developed the Spren body composition app—a reliable body composition analysis tool available on your smartphone, using the smartphone camera and validated machine learning algorithms to go beyond the scale. 

Join the waitlist and be the first to know when the Spren body composition app is released.

What is body composition analysis?

Body composition analysis provides a more accurate picture of your overall health. These valuable insights allow you to monitor your health better and even track fitness goals such as losing weight, increasing muscle mass, or even a mix of both. 

As previously discussed, more traditional weight and health measurements, such as weight and BMI, do not accurately represent your health. Furthermore, muscle is more dense than fat—you could weigh the same as someone considered ‘overweight’ but actually have a higher percentage of muscle mass.

That’s why body composition is important—you need a more detailed look into your health and well-being. 

Why is body fat composition analysis important?

Body composition analysis allows you measure and track the following biomarkers:

  1. Body fat (%)
  2. Fat mass
  3. Lean mass
  4. Android fat
  5. Gynoid fat
  6. Resting metabolic rate

We’ll now break down each biomarker in more detail, explaining why these are important to measure, and what effect this has on your overall health.

Body fat (%)

Out of all of the measurements, you’re perhaps most familiar with body fat percentage. Many home scales now measure total body fat %, but research shows that although smart scales are accurate for total body weight, they should not be used routinely to assess body composition—especially for people with severe obesity [2]. 

Body fat percentage is a useful insight, but it’s even more useful when you can see exactly what your body is made of for a more accurate and broader picture of your health.

Fat mass

Fat mass is the total weight of fat in your body, including visceral fat (hidden fat found in the belly and wrapped around the organs). This is a measurement that can accurately assess obesity (ref). Furthermore, excess fat mass is associated with increased mortality risk (ref). 

Monitoring fat mass as part of body composition analysis provides important insights into your overall health. Equally, regularly analyzing your body composition allows you to track and monitor your progress to improve your health, and even slow down your biological age.

Lean mass

If you’re a keen gym-goer or you’re starting a fitness journey, it can often be unmotivating to see little to no physical results. Often, as you see yourself daily—and because the changes start small—it can be difficult to see/measure your progress. 

But when you calculate lean mass, you can see the total weight of your body from your muscles, organs, body water, and even connective tissue. Most notably, that means you can track muscle growth—you know you’re on the right track, and it’s much easier to keep up motivation towards your fitness goals.

Android fat

People hold more body fat than others in certain areas of their bodies.

One of these types of fat is known as android fat—this can be found in the trunk and upper body, particularly in areas such as the abdomen, chest, and the back of your neck.

An increase in android fat is associated with several health concerns. For instance, those with excessive android fat and a higher waist circumference are at greater risk of severe acute pancreatitis [5]. In addition, another study found an increase in android fat in elderly people to be at an increased risk of metabolic syndrome—this includes diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity [3]. 

Gynoid fat 

Unlike android fat, gynoid fat is found around the hips, breasts, and thighs—it’s commonly called ‘reproductive fat.’ 

Gynoid fat mass is positively associated with impaired glucose tolerance, hypertriglyceridemia (too many fat cells in your blood), and hypertension (high blood pressure) in men. However, in women, the ratio of gynoid to total fat mass showed a negative association with the above health risks [9]. 

Resting metabolic rate 

And finally, we have resting metabolic rate—this is the caloric requirement needed by your body to sustain basic human functions. 

By knowing your metabolic rate, you can adjust your calorie intake to suit your goals, whether that’s gaining lean muscle mass, losing fat mass, or maintaining your current weight.

What is a healthy body composition? 

Technically speaking, a healthy body composition is made up of less fat mass and more lean mass. And that doesn’t mean you need to turn into a bodybuilder—but carrying enough muscle mass is vital in protecting you against certain chronic diseases. 

If you don’t know your body composition, then you’re at risk of various health concerns. For example, your BMI may state you’re a healthy weight—but in reality, you could have a large amount of gynoid fat.

It’s essential to gain a full-picture understanding of what makes up your body composition—this provides unrivaled insights into your health and how you can adapt your lifestyle to improve your health and well-being.

How does body by Spren compare to other methods?

Now that you know how useful body composition measurement is, you might wonder how to actually measure it. 

The most accurate body composition method is a DEXA scan, commonly labeled as ‘the gold standard’ approach [8]. Although these scans are very effective and reliable, they are expensive and not exactly accessible to most people.

The same applies to hydrostatic weighing—it’s a very accurate measurement of body fat, but it’s uncomfortable, expensive, and not very accessible. 

Suppose you’re looking to track and measure your health and weight goals accurately. In that case, you need to regularly measure your body composition—using the same method each time to increase validity and reliability. 

That means regular DEXA scans, hydrostatic weighing, MRIs, or other methods. As you can see, this is not accessible, it can very quickly become expensive, and it’s not realistic—how likely are you to stick to it?

Instead, the Spren body composition analysis app allows you to reliably measure your progress at home for a fraction of the cost. The camera in your smartphone uses validated machine learning algorithms and computer vision to provide accurate and reliable body composition results from home, whenever you want.

Body composition analysis provides a complete picture of your health 

Body fat percentage correlates with increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome in men and women [1]. In fact, body fat percentage can be a useful predictor of risk.

And while body fat percentage is important—it’s only half of the picture. A full body composition analysis shows insights to increase health awareness and allows you to monitor and work towards your goals accurately. 

Join the Body by Spren waitlist and secure your sport for early access to the Spren app.

FAQs

How do we measure body composition?

Body composition is measured in numerous ways, from DEXA scans to hydrostatic weighing. But Body by Spren allows you to measure your body composition at home with your smartphone.

How to get body composition analysis?

We recommend using the Body by Spren app—it uses machine learning algorithms to provide accurate and reliable body composition results.

Is body composition important?

Yes! Body composition directly correlates with your risk of certain chronic conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, and even cancer.

What is fat mass in body composition? 

Fat mass is the total weight of fat in your body. Reducing your overall fat mass is a great way to improve your health.

References: 

  1. Chuang, H.H., Li, W.C., Sheu, B.F., Liao, S.C., Chen, J.Y., Chang, K.C. and Tsai, Y.W., 2012. Correlation between body composition and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Biofactors, 38(4), pp.284-291.

  1. Frija-Masson, J., Mullaert, J., Vidal-Petiot, E., Pons-Kerjean, N., Flamant, M. and d'Ortho, M.P., 2021. Accuracy of smart scales on weight and body composition: observational study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 9(4), p.e22487.

  1. Kang, S.M., Yoon, J.W., Ahn, H.Y., Kim, S.Y., Lee, K.H., Shin, H., Choi, S.H., Park, K.S., Jang, H.C. and Lim, S., 2011. Android fat depot is more closely associated with metabolic syndrome than abdominal visceral fat in elderly people. PloS one, 6(11), p.e27694.

  1. Kuriyan, R., 2018. Body composition techniques. The Indian journal of medical research, 148(5), p.648.

  1. Mery, C.M., Rubio, V., Duarte-Rojo, A., Suazo-Barahona, J., Peláez-Luna, M., Milke, P. and Robles-Díaz, G., 2002. Android fat distribution as predictor of severity in acute pancreatitis. Pancreatology, 2(6), pp.543-549.

  1. Peltz, G., Aguirre, M.T., Sanderson, M. and Fadden, M.K., 2010. The role of fat mass index in determining obesity. American Journal of Human Biology, 22(5), pp.639-647.

  1. Sedlmeier, A.M., Baumeister, S.E., Weber, A., Fischer, B., Thorand, B., Ittermann, T., Dörr, M., Felix, S.B., Völzke, H., Peters, A. and Leitzmann, M.F., 2021. Relation of body fat mass and fat-free mass to total mortality: results from 7 prospective cohort studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 113(3), pp.639-646.

  1. Shepherd, J.A., Ng, B.K., Sommer, M.J. and Heymsfield, S.B., 2017. Body composition by DXA. Bone, 104, pp.101-105.Wiklund, P., Toss, F., Weinehall, L., Hallmans, G., Franks, P.W., Nordstrom, A. and Nordstrom, P., 2008. Abdominal and gynoid fat mass are associated with cardiovascular risk factors in men and women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 93(11), pp.4360-4366.

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