I’m currently trying to gain a better understanding of the link between nutrition and body composition, beyond the obvious “…too many calories makes you fat…” Why? Because after 7 years of working at it, I’ve achieved what is by most metrics, a healthy weight. My current weight fluctuates between 183-185 pounds, and at 6’2” tall, that puts my body mass index at 23.5. That’s a bit on the high side of most charts I can find, but still within what most “experts” consider to be a healthy weight. I’ve also added in light strength training over the last two years, which alters the accuracy of BMI charts.
Another metric for gauging body composition is percentage body fat. There are a variety of thoughts about how to measure this value, but its generally agreed that the most commonly available tools are not terribly precise. Methods available include impedance, calipers, and tank immersion. All that said, I’m of the opinion that as long as you choose a method and stick with it, the relative measurements should be meaningful. So, I’ve had my body composition checked several times over the course of the last few years using the impedance method. Why impedance? Because its fast and its freely available. Right now I’m hovering right around 15.8%, which puts me at the very top end of the “Lean” category for my age group. Most medical experts tell me that’s a good thing.
So, by most metrics, my weight is good. To be quite honest, even though my BMI is near the high side of “healthy,” I certainly wouldn’t want to weigh any less than I do right now. Why? Because an inevitable side effect of weight loss is that you must lose both fat and muscle. For example, looking back through my records, I can go back examine my body composition, and figure how much of my weight was fat vs. lean body mass, and compare it to today. For instance, the mass of fat in my body looks like this:
So, back in February 2003, 53.4-pounds of my total weight was fat, while today, 28.9-pounds is fat. Conversely, this also means I had this much lean body mass:
How Closely Linked Are Nutrition And Body Composition?
Since I’ve started looking more closely at my daily calorie distribution, I’ve started to wonder more about the link between nutrition and body composition. I’m currently considering some of the different “eating plans” in existence, and comparing them against my habits. The question in my mind is whether its possible to, by changing my nutritional habits alone, maintain my current weight but alter body composition. If you believe some of the subject matter in print and on the ‘net, one could come tot he conclusion its possible.
Of course, as is pointed out in this article on body fat percentage, at this stage I may just be splitting hairs. I’m not interested in going to great lengths to become excessively lean. But after some close study, perhaps I can tweak my nutrition habits just a bit to make a small move toward greater health. We’ll see.