One of the services we provide at 204 Lifestyle is InBody scanning. Our device is the InBody 270, a mobile unit that uses electrical impedance to measure your body composition. It’s important to understand how impedance works and what variables can affect it.
Should you rely on your InBody scan results alone to measure your progress?
Here’s the short answer: Regular InBody scanning can help clients and nutritionists affordably and accurately track changes over time—especially when we control variables and test under ideal conditions (more on that below).
Are there more expensive systems that offer even more precision and data? Yes. The DXA system is one of them, but these machines are very costly, and scanning clients costs more.
Interestingly, we once had a client compare her InBody scan against a DXA scan done about an hour earlier. Our InBody results were almost identical to the DXA results.
Here’s the truth: Any measurement system will work. Some excellent nutritionists get results with a scale, a tape measure and calipers that measure fat. Others use more sophisticated systems. Any system will show changes if used properly and consistently.
We selected the InBody system because it’s fast (30 seconds!), not invasive, cost effective and very accurate. We also control as many variables as we can so clients scan in the same conditions as often as possible. The system provides our clients with reliable data that shows their progress.
If you’re interested, here’s some of the science.
How Electrical Impedance Works: InBody Technology
The InBody 270 uses bioelectrical impedance to measure body composition, focusing mainly on body fat and muscle mass. It sends an electric current through the water in your body, and the resistance to this current is measured, which helps the machine determine total body water, muscle mass and body fat.
The Inbody 270 uses technology developed in 1996, and it helped to overcome some of the limitations from the earlier bioelectrical impedance (BIA) methods that produced less consistent and repeatable results.
This upgrade focused on using two current and voltage electrodes for each hand and foot, resulting in a total of eight electrodes, separating the trunk (which accounts for 50 percent of total body weight) from the other body segments and introducing a water balance category to measure intracellular water and extracellular water.
The earlier BIA methods relied on statistical variables such as gender, height, weight and age to calculate body composition. The new technology does not rely on empirical estimations.
This cross-sectional study examined TBW (total body water) and ECW (extracellular water) in women with severe obesity and concluded that, “Eight-polar BIA offers accurate estimates of TBW and ECW in women with a wide range of BMI (19.1–48.2 kg/m2 ) without the need of population-specific formulae.”
Read more here.
That means new BIA systems work.
Accuracy of the Results
In order to ensure consistent and accurate results, InBody has specific protocols that subjects are asked to adhere to before using this BIA method.
Subjects should be awake and standing for at least one hour before scanning.They should avoid moderate or intense exercise before scanning because it affects your TBW and can impact results. Other considerations are level of hydration, meals consumed, alcohol consumption and menstrual cycle.
The short version: Try to scan under the same conditions each time, and avoid working out before scanning.
This study compared the InBody 570 against the DXA for body-fat analysis. Subjects were between 18 and 25 years of age. It concluded that if the guidelines were adhered to, BIA was strongly correlated to DXA when evaluating body-fat percentage in recreationally active individuals.
Check it out here
It stated: “While (multi-frequency bioelectrical impedance analysis) MfBIA appears to be a versatile, affordable, and valid measure for general population studies, DXA provides a more accurate and detailed assessment. Nonetheless, when assessing body composition for recreationally active individuals, MfBIA can be deemed a comparable measure when adhering to strict pretest guidelines.”
Another study examining the accuracy of BIA and using DXA as a reference recruited 484 middle-aged participants from the Leiden Longevity Study and observed excellent agreements between both techniques. It concluded that BIA was a valid tool for assessing body composition in the general middle-aged population, particularly for lean body mass.
You can read it here
Metrics That Matter
The InBody is a valuable tool for clients who have consistent access to it, follow the correct protocols before scanning and can monitor results over time. When combined with other metrics that track progress, such as tape measurements, pictures, performance, sleep and stress, clients can monitor their progress with far more precision then simply standing on their scale.
The InBody is not ideal for individuals looking for a one-time body composition analysis. A metabolic chamber, the premier device for measuring body composition, or the DXA scan (a bed that essentially X-rays your body), are more effective tools for that purpose. The fact is they are simply not accessible for everyone, and they aren’t without limitations. Most people will never have access to a whole room calorimeter, and if you’re too large for the DXA bed, you’re out of luck.
Cost also creates an access issue, as these methods are far more expensive. Is precision better? It depends what you want. You can spend $1,000 and get a camera that takes great pictures, or you can spend $10,000 and get a camera that takes pristine images. What we want is a high-quality, reliable device we can incorporate into an affordable service that gets results for clients. So we chose InBody.
If you’re measuring your body composition, chances are you’re curious about where you’re at, you want to continue to make progress, or you’re looking to make changes of some kind. The InBody is a valuable tool that helps clients and coaches observe trends—hopefully moving them in the direction they want to go! The level of precision has been proven to be accurate.
More important than any device or precision is the ability to change the numbers and help clients accomplish their goals. That’s where coaching comes in. Our scans are a small part of 204 Lifestyle. We do them in 30 seconds, and then we spend the rest of our time helping clients make the numbers move in the direction they want through food and fitness.
Questions about how we use our InBody 270 to help our clients succeed? Check out our services here!