When most people think of body composition testing, they immediately think of fat. While fat numbers might be eye opening for the client, they are not as useful as lean mass numbers to a personal trainer who knows lean mass is the metabolic engine that burns the fat people are most worried about.
Since lean mass (muscle) burns 6X more calories than fat, having an accurate account of a client’s lean and fat mass numbers, allow trainers to calculate metabolic numbers like “Resting Metabolic Rate” (RMR) & “Total Energy Expenditure” (TEE). Using inaccurate techniques significantly slow a regimen as mentioned below.
I’m amazed at how many people under-eat. Super low, 1200 calorie diets only result in increased fat and decreased lean mass numbers, while slowing the metabolism. Folks need energy to burn fat so RMR & TEE numbers are a great guide for people to shoot for. From there they can work protein/fat/carb numbers as well.
Having an artificially low body fat number could cause trainers to over-estimate how many calories a client is burning and recommend too many calories -because they think the person has lots of muscle.
This honest error could seriously reduce the impact of any workout and slow down the process. Since most devices health clubs use like Calipers and Bio-electrical devices (like the hand-held) are documented to have issues reading internal or visceral body fat, they tend to read low in body fat.
Visceral fat is the most dangerous and accumulates as we age, putting pressure on our organs.
Bod Pod Research
The Bod Pod has research that show its accuracy compares to other more cumbersome and expensive methods like Hydro-Static (underwater weighing) and DEXA scan (full body x-ray). Each of the three have 1-2% error rate.
- The DEXA is a full body x-ray and restricted to some do to radiation.
- Underwater weighing requires people to exhale as much air as possible from the body before being submerged completely underwater in a dunk tank. Accessibility is very hard and cost usually exceeds $100.
The BOD POD is just as accurate as these other two methods and with my mobile Bod Pod business www.befittest.com serve the MD/DC/VA/PA and DE areas. Currently, I work with gyms, college teams, and corporate fitness events with testing as low as $45. Be Fit-Test, LLC is the “Official Metabolic & Body Composition Testing Company of University of Maryland Athletics”.
History & Accuracy:
Designed with grants from National Institutes of Health (NIH) to find an accurate but much easier alternative to the old “dunk or Hydrostatic test”, the BOD POD utilizes air-displacement instead of water displacement. Each has a documented 1-2% variance.
With the morbidly obese and special needs groups in mind, the BOD POD holds up to 7-foot, 550lbs. A massive window stretching above and behind the subject to cut down on those who may have claustrophobia. A button inside the Bod Pod allows the subject to immediately open the door if needed during the 2 – 50 second test, which will open the door immediately.
Bod Pod users include:
- National Institutes of Health
- Mayo Clinic Executive Health Program
- NFL Combine
- Cleveland Clinic
- Gatorade Sports Science Institute
And 37+ military bases (including Navy SEALS and AIRBORNE). BOD POD manufacturers also have a device called the “PEA POD”, which measures fat in infants, which allows health care professionals to better adjust dosages of drugs.
Especially useful for those beginning a regimen:
Since clients gain lean mass the fastest at the beginning of a plan, some actually gain weight and get frustrated with the diet and work-out. This usually results in the clients eating less and working out harder (if they don’t quit out of frustration).
Being able to show a person their 3lb weight change could be a 6lb fat loss with 3lb lean mass gain can prevent this knee-jerk reaction of cutting calories.
Unfortunately a weight gain could result from under-eating. this is something that's very very hard to convince someone of unless the data is presented.
Why Be-Fit-Test, LLc?
At Be Fit-test, we try to focus folks on the calories, ensuring they are getting enough calories to gain or maintain the lean mass we are mostly concerned with, yet still at a slight deficit so they are also losing fat. People should be asking how many calories should they be eating to gain muscle and lose fat, not be focused on solely weight loss.
We also try to change the way people think about body composition numbers. Most people tend to concentrate on the fat number, which is honestly the least useful. We try to focus on the lean mass and metabolic numbers.
It becomes diagnostic with future testing!
As ridiculous as it sounds, UNDER-EATING is a major problem, especially with health club goers. After initially seeing some results, most tend to hit a wall at the club. When this happens, most tend to increase intensity while reducing caloric intake. After not seeing better results they do this over and over until the gap is too big; putting that person in “survival mode”, gaining fat, losing muscle, and slowing the metabolism.
Knowing your “Resting Metabolic Rate” and caloric output for “Sedentary, low-active, active, and very-active” “total energy expenditure levels is crucial to figure out how many calories to consume to accomplish your goals.
The lean mass numbers also allow us to figure out ideal weights. I recently had a former female college athlete tell me her ideal weight per the AMA website was between 115lb-135lbs. She had been working out vigorously but not getting close. I tested her and showed her she had 115lbs of lean mass alone, making it impossible to get to 115lbs and even at 125lbs would have resulted in a dangerously low body fat level below 10%.
Her ideal weight at realistic body fat of 22% -25% (in between moderately lean and lean) was closer 140-145lbs. She was thrilled to find out she was much closer than she thought.
Knowing exactly how the body is reacting to a training program is crucial when considering if it is working and / or needs adjustment. Positive reinforcement for people frustrated they are not seeing and overnight change can be helpful. The numbers are even more useful for those not seeing results they want as it allows us to essentially “diagnose” issues based off the combination of lean and fat mass change.
The BOD POD is allowing trainers and the general public to correlate lean mass growth and fat loss to metabolic change to see the importance of strength training and diet.
For access to the Be Fit-Test, LLC, mobile BOD POD please contact Matt Bender at 410-353-2791 or Matt@befittest.com.