Updated: Nov 2, 2018
We find most people come to see us for a DEXA scan for one of four main reasons…
1. They want to lose weight
2. They want to increase their muscle mass
3. They are on a maintenance training program or non-specific plan but keep pretty fit and active and want to check in on their baseline measurements
4. They haven’t been for a DEXA scan before and they want a baseline for their general health and well-being
I have written four specific blog posts for each of these reasons (links below) and even share some guidelines to help you take the next step or achieve your goals after your consult.
But first, in this post, I explain what EVERYONE will learn from their DEXA – regardless of your specific goals – and why it’s worth knowing and understanding all these factors for your overall health.
What you learn from your DEXA consult
You get a whole lot more information from your DEXA scan than just your percentage body fat...
Your DEXA scan will reveal information about:
· Your percentage body fat
· Your total muscle mass
· An indication of your bone health
· Your estimated VAT mass
Your lean muscle mass, body fat levels (including your VAT estimate) and your bone health are all linked and there are real, long-term health opportunities in monitoring your lean muscle mass, fat levels and your bone health together.
And a full body DEXA scan is the ONLY way to measure and monitor them all at once.
Your percentage body fat
This is the one everyone seems most interested in so we'll cover this first.
We all know that carrying excess fat can increase the risk of lifestyle diseases.
Your DEXA scan will reveal your percentage body fat but it will also tell you:
· the total amount of body fat you carry in kilograms
· break that amount down to different parts of your body – arms, legs, hips, around the tummy
Your total muscle mass
Your DEXA consult will reveal the amount of your body weight that is lean muscle (percentage muscle mass and total muscle mass in kilograms).
And again, your DEXA report breaks this down into different regions of the body so you can see if you are over-training or under-training any areas.
This is of course exactly what you want to know if you are on a program to increase your muscle mass but also if you are trying to lose weight. If you are trying to lose weight, what you actually want to lose is fat and ideally you don’t want to do that at the expense of losing your lean muscle.
Maintaining your lean muscle mass (especially as you age) has significant implications on your health (check out our blog post about sarcopenia) but these principles also apply at any age. The more lean tissue you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and the better you burn fat.
An indication of your bone health
We cover bone health in our consultations but most people want to skip over it to look at their body fat losses and lean muscle gains. But when we tell people that we ALL reach our peak bone density by the time we are 30 years old, they tend to pay a bit more attention.
Monitoring your bone health is a big deal (especially for women) as osteoporosis is a big problem... prevention is much better than the cure.
DEXA scanners were originally designed to measure just bone health and for good reason…
Because we perform a full body scan, the bone health reading is indicative rather than diagnostic.
For a diagnostic scan, you need to have a smaller scan of just your hip and your lower back. But when we go through your report, if we think this result should be looked at in more detail, we will suggest you visit your GP to be referred for a diagnostic BMD.
Resistance training (and diet) are the keys to maintaining your bone health so there are things you can do to improve your bone health if it is declining.
Your estimated VAT mass
This value is such an important health indicator.
It represents your visceral adipose tissue (VAT) or internal fat area.
Do you remember these ads with the guy getting older and slower as his waistline expanded? The message in these ads was that your waist measurement is a strong indicator of increased risk for diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Well, your DEXA VAT value is a much more specific measurement of the same thing… a VAT area of more than 100cms is associated with increased disease risk and your report will reveal if you are at risk.
Still got questions? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But most importantly… book your scan NOW and find out your DEXA health.