Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just beginning a new exercise and diet regime there are ways to maximise your potential to get the most out of your We can all be prone to being too self-critical when it comes to the bits that wobble. But perhaps we're not the best at judging how fat we really are.
A composition body scan helps you to gain an accurate picture of the distribution of fat and lean muscle around your body – and whether this is healthy – so you can tailor your workout to achieve your goals.
What is a DEXA body scan?
Professor David Reid at Twenty-five Harley Street, is one of the UK’s leading expert on DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and can provide you with a Body Composition Scan. This can be used to check bone density, but certain models – such as the one he uses, are equipped with ‘Advanced Body Composition’ capabilities and provide an extremely accurate indication of the amount, and type of fat in the trunk of your body. Some fat is harmless, whereas other types wrap around organs and increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Perform best in your chosen sport
Studies have pinpointed the optimum, and ranges of body fat, that you need for individual sports to perform at your best. For instance, at competition time male bodybuilders will aim for less than 10 per cent body fat, cyclists around 8-10 per cent, and swimmers 12-15 per cent.
Get motivated to exercise
Having an accurate measurement of the fat and lean muscle you’re carrying on your trunk and legs, to the nearest gram, is a great way to set training goals. And future scans can help you to measure your progress, so you can adjust your workout and diet accordingly.
How does your body compare to others?
The DEXA scan will also give you a ‘body fat ranking’, which will rank your body’s fat compared to a UK population. This way you can see how you shape up to people of the same age and sex.
Will I lose weight when I train?
It’s a myth that muscle weighs more than fat. It is true however that muscle takes up less space than fat, being not so wobbly and more sculpted, you’ll find your clothes fit better and you look more toned.
This is why when you start exercising it’s common to lose fat and gain muscle while your weight stays the same. However, muscles burn more calories than fat, so if you are on a diet it’s important to exercise too, to build muscle.
Nutrition to build muscle
Stephanie Moore, a clinical nutritionist, who runs a private therapy clinic at Twenty-five Harley Street, says there are specific challenges for women: “Many women are concerned that doing some weights / resistance training will make them bulk up. The reality is, very few women will develop big muscles as testosterone, a hormone far greater in men than women, but essential to women’s health, is at a level for most women equivalent to that of an 8 year old boy. This means bulking up just isn’t going to happen.
“By challenging your muscles to the point of fatigue, using high weights and low reps, your muscle fibres will increase activity and density, resulting in that higher metabolic burn every second of every day while also giving your body tone and shape, not bulk.”
Eating protein helps to build muscle. Foods high in protein include meat, legumes like lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, peas and beans, tofu, nuts, seeds and grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa, millet and whole-wheat pasta.
While impact sports, even walking, can increase bone density, repetitive sports can put strain on bones, especially joints, shins and feet. To keep tabs on the health of your bones, Prof Reid can carry out a bone density scan. If you’ve been out of action due to injury, sports players invariably gain fat and lose muscle. A body composition scan can accurately gauge these changes allow you to follow a successful rehabilitation programme.