As an athlete, you’re well aware of how crucial even the slightest edge can be in terms of performance.
Body composition is a physical measurement that provides more specific information about body make-up than body weight alone.This measurement accurately divides your body into body fat (essential fat & stored fat) and fat-free mass (protein, minerals, and water in the body).
Body fat is the most varied component in your body. It is made up of essential fat and stored fat. Essential fat refers to fatty acids that you need to maintain normal bodily functions such as cell regeneration and hormone regulation. Because your body is unable to synthesize these fatty acids, they must come from the food you eat. Stored fat, on the other hand, describes the fat tissue directly beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat) as well as around your organs (visceral fat). While stored fat has the benefit of insulating the body and working as an energy storage, too much visceral fat can have significant negative health effects. You can calculate the percentage of your body fat here.
It is worth mentioning that not all weight is equal in terms of tissue composition and distribution. To support optimal health, favourable levels of lean mass versus fat mass decrease the risk of sarcopenia, associated bone loss and metabolic syndrome. For athletes, high lean mass coupled with low fat mass is related to improved athletic performance, especially in disciplines where the strength to weight ratio is a major consideration and/or those disciplines such as gymnastics and ballet where an aesthetic component confers a performance advantage.
Not only does an optimal level of body composition help optimize an athlete’s performance, but it can also record sudden changes in body composition that may be a signal of different health concerns. This is especially important for at-risk athletes with extremely low body fat. As an example, for women athletes this could lead to a phenomenon called the female athlete triad, which refers to low energy availability or disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction, and low bone density, resulting in a heightened risk of injuries.
Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA) scan is the “gold standard” for measuring body composition to include bone, lean and fat: both total and visceral. DEXA scan is relatively inexpensive and has a very low radiation dose compared to traditional X ray or computerized tomography (CT). This method of assessing body composition during training seasons is used even by some professional sports teams.
DXA scan can tell body fat percentage and distribution in the body, bone density for the body as a whole or a hip/spine measure, pinpoint areas of muscle imbalance that might put a person at risk of injury, and track injuries that are being rehabilitated. It will also calculate a resting metabolic rate for the individual, allowing for a quick starting point to calculate caloric needs without running additional calculations.
Getting an initial DEXA scan to see where your measurements—bone and body—are and how they compare to additional scans down the line can be beneficial for an athlete to stay ahead of changes in bone density (especially as loss of bone mass can lead to a greater chance of injury in athletes).
Body composition scan such as DEXA can provide a wide range of benefits for athletes seeking to optimize their performance. By identifying muscle imbalances, tracking changes in body composition, optimizing equipment and apparel, monitoring progress, and analyzing body shape, athletes can make data-driven decisions to enhance their training regimes, reduce injury risk, and ultimately improve their athletic performance. A DEXA scan from Dexacan can help athletes and all fitness enthusiasts take their performance to the next level and gain a competitive edge. Book an appointment online now to select the date and time for your scan.