Health and Fitness: InBody scanner measures and analyses body composition

REVEALING: Ethos Health dietitian James Morris demonstrates how the InBody scanner works to measure and analyse body composition.

REVEALING: Ethos Health dietitian James Morris demonstrates how the InBody scanner works to measure and analyse body composition.

I am not one to jump on the scales regularly. I probably do it at the gym once every six months, just out of interest.

I am more likely to set myself fitness goals rather than weight goals, such as running 10 kilometres in a target time, and generally I can gauge if I am on track depending on how my clothes fit and how I am feeling when I train.

But I admit to being totally intrigued when Ethos Health invited me down to try their new InBody scanner.

I had done tests in the past that involved attaching small electrodes to the body and told me what my percent of body fat was and my “perceived” age, according to the device.

But I was told this particular machine was a more advanced way to measure and analyse you body’s composition in terms of water, fat, protein, muscle, bone mineral and more.

When I arrived at Ethos Health in Newcastle West, I was given a brief explanation of how it would work by dietitian James Morris.

It involved taking off my shoes and standing barefoot on the machine while also gripping two handles.

I had to remain quiet for 30 seconds, which was the hardest part of the experience for me, then I stepped off and moments later a paper print-out revealed all.

Apparently, low-level currents were sent through my body via hand and foot electrodes and that is what determines the results given.

The print-out included a body composition analysis, which gave me figures for total body water, protein, minerals (bone mineral content) and body fat mass.

There was a muscle-fat analysis, which broke figures down into skeletal muscle mass and body fat mass.

It also gave me an overall InBody score out of 100, combining a body balance evaluation, weight control and segmental circumference (which told me the circumference of my arms, legs, chest, hip and abdomen).

It also told me my visceral fat level, which James told me was what made this machine different others.

In basic terms, visceral fat is the fat around your organs and too much of it can be connected to risks of chronic disease.

I was told it can be used as information for your trainer or health professional to help monitor levels of body fat and, in particular, visceral fat.

When I researched online, told me: “So many people use the scales as a means of assessing improvements to their body composition and overall health. By just relying on the scales you only see weight loss/gain, there are so many other things like; muscle mass, body fat and visceral fat that we should be concentrating on.”

James said it was an important tool for a range of people, including elite athletes through to people wanting a health assessment or seeking dietary advice to improve their overall health.

It gives tangible evidence and can be used to plan training programs with certain goals in mind, such as building more muscle mass or reducing body fat.

“The InBody scanner is a quick and non-invasive way of measuring body composition, i.e. body fat, muscle mass, visceral fat and a whole host of other useful measurements,” James said.

“It gives us a comprehensive way of tracking progress, and will show us what you’re made of - not just your total body weight.

“The InBody scanner uses state-of-the-art technology to analyse body composition and is portable. 

“Other methods of body scanning are often too cumbersome to be commercially available, are unaffordable or imprecise.”

He said NASA, Red Bull, The Biggest Loser and The Lakers are just some of the organisations adopting the InBody technology.

But “it is useful for anyone who is interested in accurately monitoring weight/fat loss/muscle gain” or for “ongoing measurements for those participating in training programs/sport/recovery programs”.

“People can track the progress of their training and nutritional programs,” he said.

“The scanner provides tangible feedback on muscle, fat and other body composition changes.” 

Upcoming fitness events

Harry’s Challenge Fun Run and Paddle, March 18, Stockton: A charity event for Harry's House, a family retreat for families of children living with cancer. The day involves a 5km fun run and a non-competitive event for water craft.

Water Works Ultra Marathon, Walka Water Works, Oakhampton Heights, March 18: This “ultra” event has 50km and 100km options and also the opportunity for team entries.

Run 3 of Summer Run Series, Nelson Bay, March 18: The third and final instalment of HEvents’ inaugural 10-kilometre series. The course is a mix of flat and hilly terrain with water views.

Autumn workouts #week 2

You may have noticed the sun is getting up a little later in the past few weeks, meaning staying committed to your 2018 goals might start to become harder as you sleep in too.

Here is a session to get you up and going for the day:

Set 1: 2 squats, 2 push-ups, 2 lunges each leg, 2 dead lifts with row, 10 mountain climbers/standing shuffles, 2 burpees with shoulder press (burpees optional), run/walk 30 metres, rest 10 seconds, run/walk 30m.

Sets 2-5 involve 4, 6, 8 then 10 of each exercise. You can also try it in reverse, so start with 10 repetitions.

Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.