Pete Griggs


Body Composition How the Scales Deceive You

Personal Fitness

Your body is made up of four basic materials, muscle, fat, bone and water. The proportions of these materials determine the shape of your body. I often explain this to clients I personal train to clear up any misunderstandings.

Muscle: Attaches to your bones and by pulling on your bones allows you to move around.

Fat: Excess calories are stored in your body as fat. This is an adaptation that has carried over from Stone Age times, the excess fat was used by your body to get through periods of starvation. Body fat also protects some of your body’s vital organs from impact.

Bone: The bones in your body give it its structure and general shape, allow you to move around and protect your internal organs.

Water: water makes up to 70% of your body, there is water inside all the cells of your body and helps give them their size. It also plays a role in many of the chemical reactions that take place in your body.

Your weight tells you the total amount of all these materials all added together e.g. when you jump on the scales and it says 60kg you know that the sum total of all your muscle, fat, bone and water is 60kg. What you weight does not tell you when you get on the scales are the individual amounts of the four different materials. The proportions of mainly fat and muscle determine the shape of your body around your bone structure for example:

Muscly person: a person who is defined and has noticeable muscles will have a high percentage of muscle making up their body weight. They will also have low body fat, the percentage of fat that makes up their body weight will be small.

Fat Person: Most of a fat person’s weight will be made up of excess fat and possibly water. The fat creates a layer over the person’s muscles, covering them up and don’t giving the person any definition. The percentage of their weight made up of fat will be large.

So you see that the scales deceive you by not telling you the proportions of muscle/bone/fat/water in you body and just gives you the sum total of them all.

There are various ways that I use when personal training to measure the percentage of a client’s weight that is made of fat

Skin folds can be measured to assess the thickness of the skin and fat at various locations round the body. Callipers are used to measure skin folds.

Electrical Impedance measures body fat by running a small electrical current through the body, leaner people are more conductive than fat people.

The easiest way to measure fat which I get my personal training clients to do is to measure the waste line and use the mirror. Periodically measuring your waste will tell you if you are gaining or losing fat as this is where people tend to store it. If you find your clothes getting looser or tighter this is another sign you are either loosing or gaining fat. Looking in the mirror is also a reality check too, if you notice your muscles are more defined, especially your abs, then that is a good sign you have lost some fat.

I often get my personal training clients to put of a bit of muscle, one of the main benefits of this is that with more muscle you metabolism increases making it easier for you to lose and burn off fat.

To book a session or for comments and questions call or e-mail me:

E-mail: Phone: 07947 049889

Please Read Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above articles are those of the authors and theirs alone. Information in the articles is not to be taken as medical advice, please consult you doctor before undertaking any type of exercise programme especially if you have any medical conditions.

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