Understanding body composition: Things you should know.
One's body composition (body comp/body fat percentage) is essentially a determination of what makes up one's body. In the fitness industry, body comp measurement is usually limited to determining what percentage of body mass is composed of fat.
When the body is composed of too much fat, appearance and function are compromised. Appearance suffers resultant of fat mis-shaping the body and hiding its definition. Function is impaired by excess fat due its weighing the body down as well as wreaking havoc on the internal physiology.
Luckily, however, body fat percentage can be improved and monitored without a whole lot of resources. Improvements in composition can be facilitated by diet and exercise. Monitoring body fat can be as simple as documenting and reflecting on the performance of certain exercises.
Getting leaner with diet and exercise
The type of diet and exercise program that improves body composition is one that coaxes the body to greater performance. The diet of such a program would provide nutrition to support strength gain without fat gain. Training to get leaner entails strength training to support LBM, and sensible cardio to facilitate adherence and curb appetite.
The nuts and bolts of a body comp diet involve keeping insulin levels low with nutrient intake high. Without going into too much detail, a diet of lean protein and fibrous carbohydrates should suffice. Taking a multivitamin to fill any potential nutritional gaps is also probably a good idea.
The exercise portion of improving the body's composition involves both strength training and cardio. It’s the strength training, however, that has the most physiological impact on getting leaner while the role of cardio is to curb appetite and maintain lifestyle adherence. Strength training subjects muscle to high tension levels which communicates to the physiology that LBM is necessary to retain and increase. LBM is critical to function, metabolism, and a lean appearance. Light cardio releases endorphins that curb appetite and can be a more frequent ritual to maintain adherence.
Monitoring body composition
Monitoring body fat can be done a number of ways; among them are hydrostatic weighing, air displacement, skin fold measurement, bioelectrical impendence analysis (BIA), and performance of various strength exercises. The last method mentioned, strength performance of certain exercises is, in my opinion, the most accessible, accurate, and reliable. The exercises which indicate, via performance, the body's composition trends include any and all exercises in which a large portion of the load is one’s bodyweight; exercises like 1 legged squats, pull-ups, and dips.
The aforementioned exercises can be done anywhere making them very accessible. They’re more accurate at indicating composition in that you can’t get better at them unless you’re getting leaner regardless of what you weigh (hydration status, and testing error confound the accuracy of traditional body comp tests). Such exercises are easily kept reliable by keeping range of motion consistent.
In a nut shell
Tracking your body's composition is important for assessing how you’re exercise, diet, and lifestyle are affecting your health and appearance. To improve body comp utilize eat lean protein and fibrous vegetables while engaging in high tension strength training and light cardio. Continue to monitor performance exercises in which bodyweight is a large portion of the load to determine the direction your body composition is going.