Your first DEXA Advanced Body Composition Scan was your baseline. For some people, the results were a welcome confirmation of their fit and healthy status. For others, the results may have been confronting. Whatever your reasons for that initial scan, and whatever the results, you have probably made alterations to your fitness regime and your nutrition. The question is, how have you done?
As you have probably figured out, if you have read our article on BMI or Breaking Up With Your Scales, there are many ways to measure progress. Scales can give some hints, but are often deceptive due to the potential to put on lean mass while losing fat mass. Watching changes your clothing sizes, or using a tape measure for waist circumference are also useful, but not very precise. Your follow up DEXA scan gives you a clear and accurate view of the changes you’ve made, down to the grams.
What Will I See?
Here are some ideas of what you will see in your follow up scan, with real world examples taken from the monthly scans of our resident guinea pig:
- A side by side visual comparison of the changes in lean and fat mass distribution. (Clue: Red = lean mass, yellow = fat mass, blue = bone mass).
- An update on your segmental analysis. That is, where (arms, legs, torso, etc) you have gained or lost lean mass, fat mass or bone mass.
- A chart of the changes, against your baseline, of total mass (blue), fat mass (red), and lean mass (green).
- Updated numbers on your lean mass index, body fat percentage and fat mass index.
- An update on your android to gynoid ratio (“apple”/”pear” fat).
- A chart of the trend of changes in your Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT), probably the most important measure on the report, when it comes to your future health outcomes.
- An update on your bone density, which may well have changed, if you have taken up new weight-bearing exercise.
- An updated on your Resting Metabolic Rate. Yes, it changes. The more lean mass you put on, the higher it will be… You’ll be burning more energy, at rest!
- An update on your Relative Skeletal Muscle Index (a measurement of muscle wasting).
Each time you have a future progress scan, you’ll see the new data plotted next to the old data, so as you make tweaks and further improvements to your nutrition and exercise, you can see what effect it is having. For instance, our resident guinea pig had a baseline scan, then took up new exercise (but didn’t change his diet) and lost 1678 g of fat in 5 weeks. He then made significant changes to his food (but kept the exercise the same), and lost 4649 g of fat, in the next 4 weeks (see the pictures, above).
Understanding Your Results
Results are more or less self explanatory. However, you may not have achieved what you thought you would, and don’t know why. If you are losing weight, should you also lose lean mass? What if your overall fat mass has gone down, but VAT has gone up? Have you plateaued? Your Resting Metabolic Rate has significantly changed, or you now want to stop losing weight, and start putting on muscles… What to do?
These kinds of questions are best dealt with in a consultation with our expert Accredited Sports Dietitian/Nutritionist. Or, we can point you in the direction of some other excellent health professionals who can assist you in understanding your results, and planning out the next phase in your health journey.