So the question is this: if you plan to change your eating habits to lose weight or just for health reasons, what is the baseline against which you will measure your progress and, ultimately, success?
How to know about your weight comprises
Whilst you may know your weight, do you know what your weight comprises? Is it fat? Lean tissue? Cell mass? Water? And how healthy are you? Do your cells function properly? Are nutrients readily absorbed into your body? Are toxic waste products efficiently removed from your cells? Does the amount of water in your body constitute healthy hydration or water retention? Does your chronological age match your biological age?
BMI is a flawed measure
A common measure associated with diet, weight loss, and health is Body Mass Index (BMI). This has been used for a long time as an indicator of whether or not we are a “healthy” weight for our height. It still governs so much of the thinking not only within the healthcare services but also the diet industry. However, it is acknowledged to be a flawed measure. Flawed because it takes no account whatsoever of your “bodily make-up”. You can have a fabulously muscular body yet be declared “obese” according to the BMI measure. Conversely, you can be light, but predominantly composed of fatty tissue, yet be considered to be an appropriate weight and therefore by association thought to be healthy. We know, of course, that the muscular person is the one much more likely to enjoy good health, great quality of life, and longevity!
Other measures can’t tell you more
Other measures such as caliper tests, hip:waist ratios, etc. will readily tell you about the state of the outside of your body, but they will tell you very little, at best, about what is going on beneath your skin. Fundamentally these tests tell you little more than what you can readily judge by looking in the mirror or from the fit of your clothes – are you enjoying your ideal body image?
And what about your health?
It’s time to introduce you to your BODY COMPOSITION
“Body Composition” is essentially the technical term used to describe the balance of the different components that make up our bodies. At the most simplistic level, some people in the diet and fitness industry consider it to be a measure of the relative ratios of fat mass to fat-free mass. If you investigate this further you will find that others expand on that to include muscle, bone, organs, and other bodily tissues. A medical dictionary definition breaks this down further into the relative proportions of protein, fat, water, and mineral components in the body.
Let’s consider a more sophisticated view of body composition: we’ll define it as the balance of your “bio-chemical make-up”, in terms of:
Fat, which is made up of:
Essential fats / lipids
Fat-free mass – which comprises:
It’s also essential for us to recognise that muscle, bone, organs and other tissues are all made up of specialised cells, and that they are in turn made up of proteins/amino acids, fats/lipids, minerals/trace elements and water.
Why is it important to think of body composition to this level of detail?
Well, our bodies require nutritional support for all these things – and if we don’t properly understand these building blocks, then we won’t properly understand how to nourish ourselves properly, or to provide all the tools our bodies need to develop, maintain, repair themselves.
Because most weight loss or healthy eating regimes fail to take into account body composition – either to protect it or even to improve it – they have a great potential to cause harm. Ensuring you know your own body composition at the outset empowers you to plan your diet accordingly to ensure you consume all the nutrients that your own unique body requires. There is no one-size-fits-all diet where body composition is concerned. Body composition is totally unique to each of us, and therefore our diets need to be individually tailored.