Updated: May 10
Body composition refers to the proportion of fat, muscle, water and other tissues that make up your body.
Weight is a triggering topic for a lot of people. They'd focus on the number the scale gives them and try to increase or lower it depending on how they feel about it.
However it is very important to understand that a drop in numbers is not always good and that an increased one is not necessarely a good indicator either.
That is where body composition becomes interesting and meaningful. It is a more accurate way to measure progress towards a healthy body.
Body composition is made of fat-free mass (bones, muscles, organs and water) and body fat (adipose tissue).
Having a certain amount of fat in your body is not a bad thing, it is even vital.
However attention must be paid to its quantity as too much adipose tissue can lead to health problems (overwieght, stroke etc) and this is why body composition makes much more sense than weight itself.
Why is body composition important
Body composition is important for several reasons.
First, it is a great indictor of general health. In fact, as said above, having too much fat in your body often leads to bigger health issues as strokes, heart diseases or even diabetes.
Also, not having enough muscle mass can restrict you in your daily activities, especially when aging. It is known that elderlies with low muscle mass lose balance faster and have an increased probability of falls.
Second, body composition impacts athletic performances. If you are a sport person you better develop your muscle mass by lifting weights to increase your athletism, performances and reduce the risk of injuries. A good a body composition will impact positively your sport practice, no matter the discipline you are performing.
Finally, body composition often impacts self esteem and self confidence too. However attention must be paid not going to extremes as a low enough body fat is healthy but going beyond the limits and push it to extremely low is not recommended.
How to improve body composition
Improving body composition involves a combination of diet and exercise.
Diet does not mean restriction. You know how much balance is important to me, and there is no better way to sustain an healthy food intake than including things you love in it. Diet is important regarding body composition as there are simple rules to follow to make sure you are going the right way. Having enough lean protein, prioritising complex carbs and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. That's it. (Fat, friend or foe?).
If you want to be very accurate and control your weight as much as your body composition, you also need to pay attention to calories intake.
A light (300 to 400) and controlled surplus or deficit caloric overtime will help you increase or reduce your weight and also improve your body composition. When a stable caloric intake everyday will help you maintain them.
Exercise is also playing a very important role in body composition. Resistance training, such as weightlifting (check out the benefits of weight lifting), can help build muscle mass, burn fat and increase metabolism.
Cardiovascular exercise, such as running or cycling will emphases your cardiovascular health.
Body composition is a great indicator of general health. Much more important than the numbers a scale can give you.
Focusing on your body composition by exercising regularly and have a healthy diet will enhance your general health which will positively impact your mental and physical general well being.