PartnerMD welcomes Dr. Catherine Dekle and Dr. Victoria Solderitch.

How to Interpret an InBody Scan

Lifestyle & Wellness | MetabolizePMD | OptimizePMD | Wellness

Today I want to talk to you about the InBody scan. The Inbody uses bioelectrical impedance to measure your muscle mass, your fat mass, and give you a better understanding of your body composition. Are you gaining muscle? Losing fat?  Where are those numbers on the scale coming from?

I want to go through the InBody Scan from top to bottom, so if you get one, you have a better understanding of how to really process these things. Then you can go home and make sure that you're doing what you need to be doing to see improvements over time.

Watch the video below or read on for a recap. 

InBody: Total Body Water, Dry Lean Mass, Body Fat Mass

Starting from the top. Initially, I want to go over the total body water, the dry lean mass, and body fat mass. The machine is primarily going to measure total body water because fat doesn't absorb water like muscle does. So a higher amount of water you have is typically indicated on the machine by a higher amount of skeletal muscle mass, which just goes to show you how important drinking your water is.

That's going to give you your values of how much muscle versus how much fat you have on your body. It's going to take your body fat, your lean mass, and your total body water. Add all that up and that should be your total weight.

InBody: Body Composition Analysis

The next thing is the body composition analysis, which will compare to the rest of your demographic. For example, this is a six-foot-tall, 33-year old male. You get an understanding of where you fall in relation to the rest of your demographics.

There are three different categories on this chart. There's an under, a normal, and an over. If the bar is coming from left to right, and it only stops in the under column, you would be considered under compared to the rest of your demographic.

Anything that falls in the middle is going to be considered normal and anything to the right of that is going to be considered over.

As an example, we might refer to something as a "D-shaped distribution," where the top and bottom, your weight and your body fat mass, are less than the amount of skeletal muscle mass according to the rest of your demographic.

InBody: Types of Distribution

There are three different types of distributions. There is a C-shaped, which is top and bottom are slightly greater in comparison to that middle number.

I-shaped, which all three of those are going to line up.

And D-shaped, which ultimately is what we consider the stronger type of body. That is when the skeletal muscle mass is greater than your weight or your body fat mass.

If you come in and you have a conversation with your health coach and you want to see your body composition change by increasing skeletal muscle mass, then you will want to go home and eat protein and do some resistance training, making sure that you can see improvements in that over time.

Body fat mass is going to be mainly increasing your metabolic rate through cardio and then ensuring that you're eating fewer carbs to decrease the amount of body fat overall. It is a great opportunity for you to understand your body composition and how your weight fluctuates as you continue to make those better choices on a daily basis.

InBody: Obesity Analysis

The obesity analysis is next. That's going to cover BMI and percentage of body fat. For BMI, anything between 20 and 25 is considered normal. 25 to 30 is considered overweight and anything over 30 is considered obese.

For the percentage of body fat, I have found that most women typically fall between 30% and 35% in those. Men typically fall between 20% and 25%.

InBody: How often? 

By making sure you understand what those numbers are, you can then come back — I usually recommend utilizing the body composition every four to six weeks — and see if you're making consistent changes over time.

You don't necessarily need to do it week to week, because you're not going to see a whole lot of difference. But I think it's a good chance for you to understand progression.

InBody: Segmental Lean Analysis

The segmental lean analysis at the bottom of the page is going to give you a better understanding of how your lean mass or skeletal muscle mass is on your body.

The Inbody compares the right arm versus the left arm and the right leg versus the left leg. In my experience, I have found that anything greater than a pound of difference between one side versus the other typically indicates a previous injury.

If you have a similar amount of muscle mass on one side versus the other and you are doing any sort of exercising, you want to make sure you're doing more single-arm or single-leg exercises to balance those things out in comparison to just doing squats or pushups.

InBody: Body Fat and Lean Body Mass Calculator

The second to last thing we're going to go over is the body fat and lean body mass calculator. It's almost like a roadmap to say, if my lines up at the very top, if I wanted to have everything fall within that normal range, Inbody is estimating you need to lose a certain amount of body fat or gain a certain amount of muscle or a little bit of both.

That way you can have something to gear your successes and ultimately figure out what your goal number should be for you.

InBody: Basal Metabolic Rate

The last thing we're going to go over is the basal metabolic rate. It is basically saying, if you sat on a couch and did nothing for 24 hours but breathe, your body would burn X amount of calories.

For example, this individual has 1,965. So if that person were to eat more than 1,965 calories on a consistent basis, they would potentially gain weight over time. If they would eat less than that number and not do any exercise, then they will consistently lose weight over time.

If you do exercise, that increases that number. And so if you burn 400 calories while you're on the Peloton, you can then create a deficit of 400 calories which would only accelerate your weight loss goal.

I think this is a great tool to understand your exercise regimen and whether you want to gain muscle or lose body fat. Also from a nutrition perspective, just to not just rely on the scale, I think it's a great opportunity for you to become more aware of your body composition and to learn how to sustain this over a long period of time.

Get Health Coaching from PartnerMD

Access to our certified health coaches is included for PartnerMD members as part of their concierge medicine membership.

Members, if you'd like to set up a Wellness Discovery Visit with a health coach, give your local office a call or reach out through the Patient Portal

Not a member yet? With offices in Richmond, VA; Midlothian, VA; Short Pump, VA; McLean, VA; Baltimore, MD; Greenville, SC; and Atlanta, GA, you can experience primary care built around you, one focused on wellness and prevention to help you stay as healthy as possible, as long as possible. Learn more about health coaching as part of membership at PartnerMD.