What the heck is DEXA and why would you get a scan?

DEXA (Dual X-ray Absorptiometry) is the Gold Standard for measuring body composition. This cutting edge technology uses a low-dose x-ray to break the body up into three major components:

  1. Bone mass (i.e. the weight of your bones)
  2. Lean mass (muscle + organs + fluid) and
  3. Body fat (the sum of all the body fat in the body)

Have you been thinking about getting a DEXA scan?

Simply put, DEXA scans are one of the fastest ways to learn more about your body. Whether you are interested in getting a baseline of where you are at in terms of your health, trying to gain muscle, trying to lose weight, have recently started a new exercise regime or have made changes to your diet, a DEXA scan is for you! Here are our top five reasons for getting a DEXA scan.

1. The scales are stupid

Standing on the scales tells you nothing about your body composition, your health or your value. The number on the scales does not tell you how much of your weight is made up of muscle, fat, fluid or bone. In fact your weight can fluctuate between 1-4kg daily depending on your clothing, food and fluid intake, hydration status and bowel movements!These daily weight fluctuations are not representative of body fat or muscle mass that you have miraculously gained or lost. Weighing yourself daily and witnessing these normal fluctuations can discourage people from their healthy eating or weight loss efforts.

2. DEXA is accurate

A DEXA scan is far superior to scales, skinfolds, Body Mass Index (BMI) and InBody (bioelectrical impedance) scans. No other measure provides the level of detail and information that a DEXA scan does. A DEXA scan can identify changes in body fat and muscle mass of as little as 200-300g.This is a lot more accurate than InBody Scans, skinfolds or a Bodpod where errors in excess of 1-2kg can be common. DEXA is the tool of choice for many large bodies including the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) because it is the most accurate means of measuring your body composition.

3. DEXA can measure your visceral fat

It’s impossible to see th most harmful type of body fat you can carry. This type of fat is called visceral and it hides deep inside the body around your internal organs. It also cannot be measured by weighing yourself, doing a waist circumference, measuring your BMI or getting an inbody or bioimpedance scan. Visceral fat is linked to an increased risk of many chronic lifestyle diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, type two diabetes and some types of cancers.

4. DEXA keeps you accountable

Many people commit to starting a new exercise regime or eating plan but often struggle to keep motivated or often feel overwhelmed because they dont know where to start! Getting a dexa scan every 8-12 weeks to track changes in your body composition keeps you accountable with your exercise regime and diet. Our clients are a lot more accountable and likely to follow through with their health and fitness goals when they are booked in for their follow up scans. The scans also provide you with valuable feedback from which you can base your next lot of goals.

5. DEXA helps you improve your training and exercise regime

Getting a DEXA scan allows you to identify what areas you need to work on and helps you prioritise these. For example your scan will tell you if youre carrying excess levels of dangerous fat, if you;re lacking in muscle or whether your bones arent as strong as they should be for your age. This data allows you to work towards these specific goals. For example if you are lacking in muscle you might commit to resistance training at the gym three times a week. If your bone density is low you might seek the help of a dietitian to optimise your calcium, vitamin D and protein intake. Our health coach and head body scan technician Leanne will also help you create an action plan and refer you out to any necessary health professionals.

6. DEXA is fast, pain-free and easy!

Getting healthy and making long-term sustainable changes is not easy, but at least getting a DEXA scan is! The scan itself only takes 5-10 minutes and simply requires you to lay still on the DEXA bed. The only thing to consider is that you cannot be pregnant and will be subject to a small amount of X-ray radiation (but no more than the level you would encounter in a normal day).