Instead of obsessing over your weight or BMI for enhanced sports performance and better recovery, the American College of Sports Medicine advocates for tracking body composition.
In contrast to stepping on the scale every morning or calculating your BMI, obtaining body composition values is far better for accurately distinguishing between a healthy and unhealthy weight because of its greater ability to differentiate between lean mass and fat mass.
Plus, it turns out that percent body fat is a better screening tool in the prediction of cardiovascular disease —a collective term for disorders of the heart and blood vessels that increase your likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes— than BMI.
While BMI takes your total body weight and height into account, body fat percentage focuses on the fat portion of your total body weight. Relying on body fat percentage instead of BMI addresses a common issue wherein folks who have low muscle mass may have a higher percentage body fat even with a normal-weight BMI.
To calculate for body fat percentage, you divide your body fat mass by your total weight.
Put simply, knowing your exact body composition values offers you a glimpse of what your existing body weight is made up of. After all, it’s not about how much you weigh or your weight’s relationship to your age or height. It’s more important to learn how much of your weight is made up of fat, water, bones, and muscle.
Big Gain #1: You reduce your cardiometabolic risk.
Besides helping you jumpstart your body recomposition goals, acquiring knowledge of your current body composition values can potentially help reduce your cardiometabolic risk.
How? By figuring out if your body fat percentage levels are within recommended ranges or not.
Big Gain #2: You reduce your chances of suffering from issues associated with high cholesterol.
In a research study published by the Mayo Clinic last year, the recommended body fat percentage range is associated with increased good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL). By increasing HDL, the harmful cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) levels are significantly reduced.
It is worth noting that the researchers set the “healthy” body fat percentage at 5% – 20% for men while 8% – 30% for women.
Big Gain #3: You’ll be able to recognize symptoms of prediabetes early.
Besides reduced risk of cardiovascular conditions, recognizing what you’re made of in terms of fat, muscle, water, and bones is beneficial if you want to reduce your chances of developing diabetes.
Big Gain #4: You reduce your chances of premature death.
Substantial findings from a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that a higher body fat percentage is associated with higher all-cause mortality (death), regardless of BMI.
Big Gain #5: You’ll increase your physical fitness and be more likely to improve your body composition.
Tracking your body composition regularly and aiming for a healthy balance of muscle and fat has been shown to help boost endurance and shorten recovery periods from exercise.
No matter which of the benefits outlined above looks the most attractive to you right now, tracking your body composition is where it all begins. Afterwards, you can redesign your lifestyle and make adjustments to accomplish your specific body composition goals.