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The world of health and fitness has evolved with all kinds of technical jargon and terminology that can require a guide to get a handle on things. It can become confusing and terms like Lean Body Mass and Lean muscle can get mixed up. Body composition analysis allows an individual to understand their body in a much clearer way with insight into the body’s health. Here we break down this technical terminology to get a basic understanding of how it is relevant to the body’s health. Think of this as a combination glossary, and action guide.
Guide to Basic Body Composition
Percent Body Fat Body/Fat Percentage
Percent Body Fat is a reflection of how much of the body’s weight is made up of fat.
It is calculated by dividing the weight of body fat mass by total weight.
It helps to track progress whether trying to lose weight or gain muscle.
This percentage can be applied to set percent body fat ranges.
The healthy ranges are around 10-20% percent body fat for men and 18-28% for women.
Lean Body Mass/Fat-Free Mass Guide
Lean Body Mass is sometimes used interchangeably with Fat-Free Mass.
Lean Body Mass is the weight of everything in the body that is not fat.
This includes muscles, organs, bones, and body water.
Using the TDEE as a baseline an individual can develop a nutritional plan based on body composition goals.
Body Water Guide
Body Water includes all the water in the body. This means everything from:
The water in the blood
Water in the organs
The water inside the bones
Body water can be subdivided into two types:
Intracellular means inside the cells and includes the water in the organs, muscles, composing 2/3 of total body water.
The remaining 1/3 is extracellular outside the cells and includes the water in the blood.
When the body is generally healthy it maintains a healthy balance of intracellular to extracellular water with a ratio of around 3:2.
When the balance becomes unbalanced or falls apart water monitoring becomes important.
For example, individuals with severe health problems, like kidney ailments/failure, are unable to rid the body of extracellular water. This causes a buildup of water and requires removal through procedures like dialysis.
Dry Lean Mass
Lean Body Mass includes everything that’s not body fat and includes body water.
When all the water has been taken out what remains is known as Dry Lean Mass.
Lean Body Mass – Body Water = Dry Lean Mass
This amounts to the protein content of the muscles and the mineral content of the bones.
Most Dry Lean Mass will be found in these areas.
Water monitoring can help track real, physical changes in the body.
Lean Body Mass contains body water, and body water levels can be influenced by different factors like a recent workout or being low on carbohydrates.
Changes in body water are considered technical changes in Lean Body Mass.
When building muscle, the body is actually building new physical protein stores and reflects in Dry Lean Mass.
An increase in Lean Body Mass can signal muscle growth, or not.
However, an increase in Dry Lean Mass is a more favorable indicator that there is muscle growth.
Two major categories of body fat.
Subcutaneous fat is the fat under the skin and is the type that can be seen.
The second type is called visceral fat.
This fat collects inside the abdomen and wraps around the internal organs.
Just because it cannot be seen does not mean it is not there.
If it is there it is something definitely worth knowing about.
This is because visceral fat is not just extra pounds but an active organ that secretes harmful hormones into the body that triggers never-ending inflammation.
The more visceral fat, the greater risk of inflammation.
Inflammation over time places added stress on the heart that can lead to cardiovascular problems.
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Hopefully, this guide has clarified some of the common body composition terminology. This is a basic overview designed to provide essential information about body composition and how it applies. A general understanding can help in making healthy lifestyle choices, like deciding to lose weight or dietary adjustments.
Dr. Alex Jimenez’s Blog Post Disclaimer
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, and sensitive health issues and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate and support directly or indirectly our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico*
Westerterp, Klaas R. “Exercise, energy balance, and body composition.” European journal of clinical nutrition vol. 72,9 (2018): 1246-1250. doi:10.1038/s41430-018-0180-4 Borga, Magnus et al. “Advanced body composition assessment: from body mass index to body composition profiling.” Journal of investigative medicine: the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research vol. 66,5 (2018): 1-9. doi:10.1136/jim-2018-000722
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