Measuring My Body Fat for Segmental Analysis

Last time I talked about goals and targets. Today I was looking at my body fat measurement. The gym’s measurement equipment is moved between centres and today it was at our own gym. I booked an appointment to have a measure taken.  I was keen to learn about my own body’s metabolism. The segmental analysis part of the title sounds a bit hi-tec! It really means how fat is distributed around the body in simple English. 

The science behind the measurement

Today’s article is all about the machine and what data can be extracted. I looked forward to learning how lean I was, or not. Having a scientific background, measurements and statistics intrigue me. I admit I have a bit of a midriff stomach excess and had already done a crude measurement. This suggested I had about 15% body fat. Was my measurement accurate? Does fat matter to us apart from looking better for low fat? Are we at risk for our health if we carry weight?

It would be quite reasonable for the average reader to ask, are these questions for real?

The information booklet from the InBody site was helpful and the type of kit is illustrated above. The handles are gripped with the palms. You have to stand on two shiny plates to improve skin contact. It is easy to wonder if this works on the basis of the electric chair given the word electrical appears in the bumph!  Fortunately, this is all painless. Using a password I could compare it to measurements later on and see if I could meet my goals. Of course, the goal I am aiming for is to reduce my body fat. Height is measured in (cms). I seem to have dropped a couple of centimetres. My age is added. The brochure shows a svelte woman without an ounce of fat or should I say gram! Why do they do that – show people young, fit, beautiful in their prime? I want to see people like me, or indeed as the image is shown on the front of this article! 

My centre ells me the following

The Inbody is a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Machine but what does this mean?

  • BIA is a method of assessing body composition
  • Inbody uses BIA- small electrical current flow through the body
  • Resistance (impedance) is measured to calculate body composition
  • Different resistance to Body Water, Skeletal Muscle Mass, Body Fat
How accurate?

I am left still wondering, how accurate is this? Has it been calibrated? What are the variables and tolerances? These are all the types of questions I have been trained to ask. The equipment is about 98% accurate. Who says this? The makers of course! Oops, that’s called bias.

While it is one of the more accurate body scanners on the market, its findings shouldn’t be taken as gospel. As with all measuring tools, there are surrounding factors that can have an influence on the reading taken at the time. source link

The Mayo Clinic and Dr Edward Laskowski say…

Although the technology is improving, it’s hard to get an accurate body fat measurement from most available commercial body fat analyzers. Various types of body fat analyzers — also called impedance meters — are available to the general public. Results from portable body fat analyzers can vary, though. Your body fat measurement can depend on many factors such as the device’s quality and how hydrated you are when you have the measurement.

Well this answers my question to some extent, and yet it is helpful to achieve a baseline. I have only had a banana before leaving today. I am barefoot, have a few clothes on and have been to the loo. For ladies one source talk about menstruation. I would guess as I am looking at the older spectrum of age that we are past this feature of body physiology. Nonetheless to be precise to undertake such tests one needs to not have exercised and have a body temperature next to normal non-active self. 


What’s the score?

InBody chart for author

The report comes on an A4 sheet of paper. My weight = 72.1Kg  or 11.4 stones or 159 lbs. As I started at 74 Kg a few weeks ago this was a good start. Body fat mass was 15.2 Kg. Mass is a measure, like a weight in this case. In physics terms, it is slightly different but we won’t worry about that. As a simple percentage of my weight, this comes out at 21%. My muscle mass is 32.3%. I am pleased that I have more muscle than fat then. The InBody analyser suggests that I have 41.7 litres of water in my body. I feel a bit like a motor car gas tank! Moving to good old bodyweight mass index BMI, the one we all love, this gives me a score of 24.9. I am a hair’s breadth off of being overweight at 25. A muscular person might score 100 points my chart says that I score 78.
Body fat and segmental analysis distribution

Body Fat and Segmental analysis

Body fat and segmental analysis identify how many pounds of lean mass are in each body segment through Segmental Lean Analysis. I use this section to look for any imbalances between corresponding segments (eg. Right Arm, Left Arm) according to the brochure. When I look at mine I am ‘normal’ but have a shade less on my right side. In the arms, my left side is down by 0.12kg and my left leg 0.06kg. This suggests less muscle mass. I am right-handed so this may account for right dominance.


The left side could be down to dominance but as I have injured my right knee, the muscles should be less than the left side. These differences are really far too small to impose an accurate interpretation. 

Other information

While the BMI measurement has its critics, the waist-hip ratio is often regarded as better. The value represents the amount of fat in the waist, hips and buttocks. So how is it calculated? This is what health line suggest

To measure it yourself:

  • Stand up straight and breathe out. Use a tape measure to check the distance around the smallest part of your waist, just above your belly button. This is your waist circumference.
  • Then measure the distance around the largest part of your hips — the widest part of your buttocks. This is your hip circumference.
  • Calculate your WHR by dividing your waist circumference by your hip circumference.

Now my WHR is 0.88 so I thought I would measure it and see how close I was. I had my wife measure both which came out at 90cm and so this would equate to a ratio of 1.0. Given the World Health Organisation guide, 0.9 or less is healthy. 

Basal Metabolic Rate

There can be no doubt my visceral fat is around my waist and this is where most fat lies in all of us and around the hips. Moving onto metabolic rate, my basal metabolic rate measures (BMR) 1600 Kcals where the range is given as 1561 – 1826 Kcals. My recommended daily calorie intake is 2344 Kcals. My own estimate has always been around 2400 for non active work. I wrote an earlier article on calories Calories and all that we do in the gym.

The Basal metabolic rate is the energy in calories required to allow your body to function at rest. If you exercise you will need more. A male undertaking heavy physical work may need 4000 Kcals a day. If one went on a polar trek the calories required would increase up to 6000 Kcals per day, which seems extraordinary. If we eat more than we need we will store excess energy in fat and in muscle.  This is unhelpful if you don’t need the energy. 

Using an online calculator I decided to check this all against a typical calculator found on the internet. The BMI was 25 versus 24.9. My daily Calorie requirements were 2239 versus 2344 and the BMR was 1473 versus 1600 Kcals. My body fat percentage was 24 versus 21%. 

The Obesity Story and help from the NHS

Of course, excess fat is not good. On the other hand, being thin is not so good either. We don’t want to burn into our muscle deposits anymore than we want excess fat which stores energy we cannot hope to lose. Fat is important. This is what the NHS website has to say about the value of fat;

A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself. Fat helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they can only be absorbed with the help of fats. Any fat that’s not used by your body’s cells or turned into energy is converted into body fat. Likewise, unused carbohydrates and proteins are also converted into body fat.

You can click here to find out more about those other dietary issues and nutrition FACTS ABOUT FAT

Fat is not funny

The licensed article photo by Rangizz / is described as Funny overweight man lying exhausted on the floor does not appear so funny given the consequences of carrying this weight. Typically this shape would be classed as morbidly obese and the BMI or body weight mass index would be at least 32 – 35. Patients who consulted me were told they could not have any treatment for their painful feet because they were overweight. In order to reduce their pain, they needed to lose weight. They could not lose weight because their feet were painful. I argued with one of my healthcare units that this seemed self-defeating to impose a BMI target but it was a rule imposed within the NHS from up high! Mind you, if you paid privately the same rules did not apply! 


The term for being medically overweight is called obesity. The NHS site is helpful and tells us why being overweight is not good for our health.  Within this site, a link is provided to help people exercise and so it is worth looking at, see the link below; Couch to 5K. I have reproduced some of the guidance here with links for exercise.

To do this, you should:

  • eat a balanced calorie-controlled diet as recommended by a GP or weight loss management health professional (such as a dietitian)
  • join a local weight loss group
  • take up activities such as fast walking, joggingswimming or tennis for 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) a week
  • eat slowly and avoid situations where you know you could be tempted to overeat

You may also benefit from receiving psychological support from a trained healthcare professional to help change the way you think about food and eating. 

Couch to 5K week by week

This comes as a series of downloadable information and podcasts for people who are struggling to lose weight. It starts off with sensible and gentle work. 



I have looked at my own body fat and segmental analysis helped by equipment marketed as InBody. This has offered me an idea of my segmental analysis showing me how lean I am. The data have offered ideas about my calories and basal metabolic rate. I know I am slightly on the heavy side and carry a small amount of extra fat reserve that I don’t need. I know my cholesterol levels are slightly higher than ideal and my liver has fat around it from scans. My blood pressure and heart rate are not bad and I can exercise reasonably well and have few breathing difficulties. Using the gym is important and will continue to be part of my life, but without a doubt, I need to balance my nutritional needs. 


Thanks for reading ‘Body Fat and Segmental Analysis’  by author David R Tollafield

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Published by Busypencilcase Communications Est. 2015 for ConsultingFootPain

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