How to Perform Body Composition Analysis

Body Composition Analysis tells you how much fat you have compared to everything else. Analyze your body to understand the proportions of different components that contribute to your overall weight.

By: Gretchen Reynolds, Published on: 2023-12-15, Last Updated: 03-08-24

Reviewed by: Michael Pollan

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Have you ever wondered what your body is made of beyond just weight? Well, that's where body composition analysis comes in. A tool breaks down your body into its individual components, giving you a deeper understanding of your health and fitness.

Body composition analysis goes beyond the simple number on the scale and provides valuable insights into the different components that make up your body. By understanding your fat mass, muscle mass, bone density, and other components, you can gain a deeper understanding of your overall health and fitness.

What is Body Composition Analysis

Body composition analysis is like a checkup for your body that goes beyond just weight. It tells you how much fat you have compared to everything else, which is helpful for both athletes and anyone wanting to improve their health.

Body composition analysis is like taking a deep dive into your body beyond just a weight measurement. It's like dissecting a pie to see how much of it is crust, filling, and other delicious goodies. In this case, we're analyzing your body to understand the proportions of different components that contribute to your overall weight.

The Basics Of Body Composition

Body composition is a universal term used in the health and fitness industry. It tells you how much of your body is made up of each component. This is important because it can give you clues about your health. For example, too much fat can lead to health problems like heart disease and diabetes.

Two people can weigh the same but have different amounts of fat and muscle. The person with more muscle will be healthier, even if they weigh the same.

Body composition goes beyond the number on the scale, revealing the building blocks of your body. It's like examining the ingredients in your food, allowing you to understand the proportions of fat, muscle, bone, water, and other components that make you unique. This knowledge empowers you to track progress, set realistic goals, and optimize your health and fitness journey.

Points to Consider Before Analyzing Body Composition 

You should consider some key points before analyzing body composition

  1. Your purpose of analyzing, Are you looking for a general understanding or precise measurements?
  2. Choose the right method for you. Consider your budget, accessibility, and the level of accuracy you need.
  3. Follow the instructions carefully. Each method has specific instructions that you need to follow in order to get accurate results.
  4. Avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 2 hours before your test. This can affect your results.
  5. Empty your bladder before your test. This can also affect your results.
  6. Wear loose-fitting clothing. This will help ensure that the device can get an accurate reading.
  7. Stand still during the test. This will help ensure that the device gets an accurate reading.
  8. Relax and breathe normally. This will help ensure that the device gets an accurate reading.
  9. Wait for your results. The results of your BCA test will be available immediately.
  10. Discuss your results with your doctor or a registered dietitian. They can help you understand your results and develop a plan to reach your goals.
  11. Repeat your BCA test regularly. This will help you track your progress and make sure you are on track to reach your goals.

How Body Composition Analysis Is Measured?

Standard weighing scales only measure your total weight. To understand your body's composition, which encompasses fat, water, and muscle mass, you need specialized methods.

  • Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) is a common method that uses a low-level electrical current to measure body composition. It's easily accessible but can be affected by hydration levels and recent exercise.
  • A simple method used to measure body composition is called skinfold measurement. A painless instrument called calipers is used to measure the fat in different parts of the body by gently holding a portion of the skin.
  • Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) is a highly accurate method that uses low-dose X-rays to measure bone density and body composition. It's helpful for evaluating bone health and muscle mass but is more expensive and requires specialized equipment.
  • Hydrostatic weighing is a high-efficiency test for measuring body composition. The person must completely submerge underwater, and the water’s displacement is measured. A combination of bone density measurement with water displacement helps to calculate the accurate body composition.

The Impact of body composition on your to track daily calories

Here's how understanding your body composition can help you track your daily calories more effectively:

  1. Accurately estimate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): BMR is the minimum number of calories your body needs at rest to maintain vital functions. It's largely determined by your lean mass, as muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue. By knowing your body composition, you can accurately estimate your BMR and use it as a starting point for calculating your daily calorie needs.
  2. Adjust for activity level: Your daily calorie needs increase with activity level. However, the amount of increase depends on your body composition. Lean muscle mass burns more calories during exercise than fat mass. So, individuals with higher muscle mass will burn more calories at the same activity level and require a correspondingly higher calorie intake.
  3. Set realistic weight management goals: Body composition analysis helps you set realistic weight management goals. It allows you to focus on building muscle instead of just losing weight, which is crucial for long-term health and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
  4. Monitor progress: By tracking your body composition over time, you can monitor your progress and adjust your calorie intake accordingly. This allows for a more personalized approach to weight management and helps you achieve your goals efficiently.
  5. Identify potential health risks: Body composition analysis can reveal potential health risks associated with body fat distribution. For example, excess visceral fat (fat around organs) is linked to various health problems, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Knowing your body fat distribution can help you take proactive steps to reduce your risk.


Body composition analysis offers a deeper understanding of your body beyond weight, revealing the valuable ratio of fat to muscle. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions about your health and fitness. Choose from various methods, from accessible BIA to the gold standard hydrostatic weighing. Consult a healthcare professional for proper testing and personalized guidance. Remember, body composition analysis is a tool to understand your body and optimize your health journey, not just a set of numbers. Track your progress and adjust your approach as needed to achieve your goals and unlock your full potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 body composition tests?

Body composition can be measured using various methods, including skinfold calipers, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans, hydrostatic weighing, and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).

How accurate is body analysis?

Body fat scales are not very accurate at estimating a person's body fat percentage. However, they may provide a rough idea of how much fat a person has in their body. Together, body fat scales and BMI can give a general indication of a person's health.

Why do we measure body composition?

Body composition plays an important role in understanding your health and wellness, measuring the differences between leanness and too much fat. 

How long does body composition analysis take?

With the patient lying down, photons of the X-ray beams of different energy levels scan the patient. It takes about 5 to 30 minutes. 

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