Why the DEXA Scan is the Gold Standard for Measuring Body Composition

March 15, 2021

Are you constantly frustrated with the number on the scale or fluctuations in body weight on a daily basis? If so, it is time to ditch the bathroom scale. Instead, focus on changes to your body composition measurements instead. Enter the DEXA Scan. 

The DEXA, or Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry Scan, is the gold-standard body composition measurement per research. The DEXA scan will provide you with the most accurate assessment of your body weight distribution compared to other testing methods. It has a very low error rate of approximately 1-2% compared to other testing methods such as using body fat calipers, the BodPod machine, or InBody technology which have been shown to overestimate by anywhere from 6-15%.

More important than body weight, the DEXA machine shows how that weight is distributed on your body at this point in time. For example, the other objective data collected from the DEXA scan includes your: 

  • Body fat percentage
  • Body fat pounds
  • Lean tissue pounds (aka muscle mass)
  • Android vs. Gynoid distribution (aka waist-to-hip ratio) 
  • Visceral fat (aka harmful fat that covers your organs) 
  • Bone density
  • Muscular imbalances

and more! 

You see, body weight is just one objective way of measuring progress, however, it is not the only way. Two individuals can be the exact same weight but have a completely different body composition (i.e. bodybuilder vs. marathon runner). 

Measuring body composition instead of body weight allows you to assess whether or not you’ve gained or lost lean muscle tissue as opposed to body fat over time. It also helps you understand if your current nutrition and exercises programs are working, or need to be adjusted to reach your aesthetic, performance or longevity goals. 

It is also important to note that body weight is expected to fluctuate on a daily basis due to various biological and dietary influences including 

  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • Sodium intake and potassium balance
  • Hydration status
  • Exercise
  • Bowel regularity
  • Sleep
  • Stress and more! 

This is why the number on the scale is often unreliable.

Gaining lean muscle tissue is actually beneficial for body composition since muscle is our metabolically active tissue, whereas gaining body fat is detrimental to body composition and puts at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or fatty liver in the future. 

At Prefusion Health, we use the baseline data that is collected from the DEXA scan and metabolism test to create a more personalized diet and exercise program for our clients. This way, we take the guesswork out of it and create a clear path for our clients to achieve their desired body composition, performance and/or longevity goals. We recommend follow up testing every three months on average to allow time for education, program implementation and ultimately, measurable changes in body composition. 

If you are interested in body composition and metabolism testing that includes a clear path to achieve your goals, then visit our website for more information and schedule a complimentary call today!

Written by Sara De Luca, RD, CDN, CPT

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