Ultrasound Body Composition Assessment

Ultrasound Body Composition Assessment - Red Dot Fitness Personal Trainers use technology for client comfort, efficiency, & convenience

By Scott Howell

In short, the ratio of muscle, bone, water, and fat make up your body composition (body comp). More simply, when analyzing body comp, we can refer to the above as fat free mass/lean body mass (FFM/LBM) compared to fat mass (FM). More about FFM:FM HERE.

There are several modalities for assessing your ratio of FFM to FM. For years the gold-standard for body comp assessment was (...perhaps still is) hydrostatic weighing (under water weighing). This method of measurement involves fully submerging an individual under water, inside a small enclosed water tank, having the individual attempt to fully expel most of the air within their lungs, all while the “clinician” performs some calculations. While this measurement process is far from perfect or void of potential error, it does provide a result in a very repeatable and reliable way.

Using the standard above, tech and device companies are constantly looking for opportunities to create less cumbersome products that can be used in offices, homes, and gyms to help people understand their body comp. Skinfold calipers, infrared scanners, hand-held and scale-mounted bio-impedance devices, DEXA (Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry), air-displacement plethysmography, and 3D body scans, are all examples. Availability, cost, reliability, and practicality of these devices can be problematic for regular analysis. And, up to date results for a client or coach to apply exercise and nutrition program adjustments can be delayed.

 For more than a year, Red Dot Fitness Personal Trainers have been utilizing a new high tech, cutting edge device that allows us to quickly, easily and accurately take body comp assessments. We do all this without embarrassing or painful pinching, or suffering the feeling of claustrophobia, or being fully submerged in a water tank. These assessments take only minutes and are not affected by hydration, exercise level or caffeine intake. We use ultrasound technology.

Ultra-Sound Science

If you have ever heard an echo you have experienced the fundamentals of ultrasound measurement. You hear an echo when sound travels through air and reflects from a wall or mountain and comes back to your ear. If you time how long it takes for you to hear the echo you can calculate how far away the reflecting object is. The BodyMetrix System generates an ultrasound signal that travels through tissue and then records the reflected signal. Ultrasound waves travel in tissue and strong reflections occur at the boundary of different tissue types (e.g. fat-muscle and muscle-bone.) This type of measurement makes for a very non-invasive, reliable, and repeatable process that takes only a few minutes.

With an accurate assessment of your body comp, recommendations specific to nutrition coaching and exercise programming can be more carefully applied. Regular measurements, approximately every 4-6 weeks, can be quickly ascertained at the beginning or conclusion of a workout session, or during on-site consultation appointment times, making this type of analysis highly convenient.  These factors are key when personal trainers and coaches are truly personalizingyour programs while simultaneously attempting to maximize everyone’s time and efficiency.

Having an ultrasound body comp done can provide an immense amount of insight on the best approach to YOUR nutrition and exercise programming. Expertly utilizing the data gained from an accurately performed assessment can have a huge impact on your overall health, performance, and aesthetics.