“People tend to put too much emphasis on body weight as an indicator of good health,” Gavin told Women’s Health. “The illusion that body weight is the most important measure of good health can lead you to want to lose weight fast. Unfortunately, fast weight loss can mean losing both fat and muscle mass, which will slow your metabolism thus making it harder to lose weight over the long term, and sometimes easier to gain.”
Our reliance on these old metrics is changing, but slowly.
“I think the reason for the slow uptake of new metrics is reflective of a greater societal issue; putting an unrealistic and dangerous time frame on losing weight,” Gavin says. “Most people are still very attracted to losing weight fast. At Vision we believe that you should focus on losing body fat slow to keep your weight at a desirable level for the long haul.”
But goal setting is an important factor in overhauling your health and fitness, so how should be evaluating our progress instead?
“A body composition scan is the latest technology for measuring weight loss in a healthy way,” Gavin says. “Measuring your body composition lets you know how much of your total body weight isn’t fat, such as lean muscle mass, your organs, bone and water. Body composition is expressed as a percentage of body fat and lean muscle mass. Muscle is denser than fat so it takes up less space than body fat.”
So what does it involve? A Vision bioscan will take less than 60 seconds and takes 20 measurements across the body including Body Fat, Skeletal Muscle Mass, Visceral Fat, Protein, Muscle Mass, Total Body Water and Bio Age using electrical impulse technology. After ten minutes of processing, you'll be provided with an overall health score.
Gavin says that this method can give you a clearer idea of where your body is at now, and even what you’ve put it through in the past.
“For example, if you discover that your lean muscle mass is low, then it’s highly likely you crash dieted in the past. Moreover, less muscle generally means a lower metabolic rate – that is, the rate at which your body burns calories.”
Plus, we’ve all seen the body transformations in which women lose multiple dress sizes while staying the same weight. Body composition measurements can explain that.
“Measuring body composition allows you see how your body changes over time even if your weight stays the same. This information is useful for people who are happy with their weight but would like to achieve a more toned physique. For example, your body composition will show if your muscle mass is on the up and body fat down, even while your weight stays much the same.
“So, instead of obsessing over a single number on the scale, strive to achieve a healthier body by focussing on your lean muscle mass to boost your metabolism. The way to do this, of course, is through regular exercise and good nutrition.”
This article originally appeared on womenshealth.com.au