Body bites

Posted on August 10, 2012


I popped into Fitness First post my run yesterday to do an InBody analysis.  It’s been a while and I tend to find the odd little report motivational regardless of the results.  If I’ve gone downhill since the last, I think why and try to rectify … and if improved, I use the results to fuel me.

As for what yesterday’s results showed? 

A couple of kilos heavier than the last time but this could totally be explained by an increase in my muscle mass.  I do wonder though how the scales can really fluctuate so much between reports, especially amongst gals.  Of course, we feel ourselves when our favourite jeans are a pinch to button never mind those days when mincing into that fail-safe LBD is akin to casing a sausage.

I had a giggle with one of the trainers about exactly this.  We believe the results when we like them and assume the machine needs calibrated or is faulty when we don’t.  Jokes aside thought, there are logical, scientific and nutritional reasons behind these fluctuations so fear not …

You see, whilst there are some elements that we can control:

  • Food Weight The weight of an item you eat is going to change the weight you are. Obvious? Yes! The food and fluid you consumer all has weight. And just to prove my point … go get yourself a large bottle of water and stand on the scales with it and then without it. I rest my case
  • Water Retention The very word, ‘retention’ means ‘to hold on to’ or ‘to hold back’. Retention occurs for all sorts of reasons but the main three are:

1. Edema This is swelling from an accumulation of watery fluid in cells, tissues or serous cavities. Anything from electrolyte imbalances, kidney problems, allergies, injury and exercise can contribute. If you get sock rings, swollen calves or a puffy face, these are signs of edema. If you live with this constantly then you are likely dealing with issues of electrolyte balance.

Deal with it: Make sure you stay properly hydrated and are getting enough sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Ensure also that you’re getting proper rest and time off from training and taking care of your joints and muscles.

2. Glycogen Retention Muscle holds a massive amount of water. You know when people accuse diets of eating away at your muscle?  Well actually, they’re drinking away your muscle i.e. one of the first things to go when you go on a diet (esp a low carb one) is the water stored in your muscles. The reason that carbs are so important is because glycogen storage is pulled mainly from carbohydrate intake. That “plump” look you are going after with your muscles, to have them be filled and defined, is from storage of glycogen in the muscles. In short … learn to love what carbs can do for you!

Deal with it: Put the carbs to work by pulling them into the muscles by lifting and training the body. Go for ‘plump’ not ‘bloated.’ Keeping a lower body fat level also helps with partitioning in general.

3. Hormonal/Stress This applies to guys and gals but more to the latter. Stress and hormonal imbalances or just general readjustments in the cycle system lead towards BIG fluctuations in your water balance. Stress triggers directly affect hormonal behavior. Just think, when you’re stressed out, tearful and sleepless, you look and feel like you do when you’ve got your period, right? Chicks are also notorious for carrying their emotions on their sleeves and in most cases it’s underneath them as well.

Deal with it: Chillax! There are some hormones and issues you can’t control. For the ones you can, take care of yourself and your body will take care of you.

… there are others that we can’t

  • Essential Body Mass (EBM) is what our bodies are made up of i.e. bones, skin, organs, tissue, muscle, fat, water, etc. There’s only so much EBM you can gain or lose unlike Lean Body Mass (LBM), which you can lose or gain to a greater degree
  • Fat We need a certain level of essential fat in the body. The rest of the fat, i.e. when we eat an excess of calories, is stored either subcutaneously (right underneath the skin) or viscerally (in between organs, mainly abdominal)
  • Muscle Without a certain level of essential muscle, movement wouldn’t be possible. The rest of the muscle we have is gained through our daily lifestyles or by breaking down and rebuilding that tissue via training.  Muscle is more dense than fat which means that five pounds of muscle takes up less space than five pounds of fat. It doesn’t weigh more than fat though; five pounds is five pounds although lots of people don’t get this. Ask yourself what weighs more … a pound of feathers or a pound of rocks?
  • Water A huge amount of our body is made up of water. Lean muscle tissue and blood contain about 80% water whereas a fat cell contains about 20 to 25% water. Water helps transport nutrients, oxygen and waste products in and out of cells and is necessary for all digestive, absorption and circulatory functions. It’s needed to regulate the body’s temperature and to provide energy. It also helps moisten skin and regulate hormones. Simply put, no water in the body equals a whole lot of a mess!

So there you go … the results of these reports can sometimes be explained with reasons beyond an attack of Ben & Jerry’s. Continue to bear in mind however that the next time you do a body composition analysis yourself, if you don’t like the numbers on the report returned, the machine might also be faulty!

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