by Dr. Matthew Chircop
Body composition is one of the markers of conditioning. In combination with your weight, knowing your body fat percentage will allow you to calculate your total fat mass and your lean body mass.
Changes in fat mass and lean body mass in response to lifestyle changes can help you to determine if those changes are producing the results you desire – for most people, this means a reduction in body fat percentage, and an increase in lean body mass in the long run.
With a few notable exceptions, most of us can only either:
You don’t want to lose too much muscle whilst trying to lose fat, and you don’t want to gain too much fat whilst trying to gain muscle. Otherwise, you’ll just end up making no overall change to your body composition.
Once you have an estimate of your body fat percentage, simply multiply this by your total weight to yield your total fat mass.
Subtract your total fat mass from your total weight to yield your lean body mass.
Now, if you have calculated the total fat mass and lean body mass before your started training and modifying your diet, you can track changes in those values to determine if your lifestyle changes are having the desired effect.
If you are losing just as much or more muscle than fat, you either have a calorie deficit that is too large, or your protein intake is not adequate, or your training or recovery is suboptimal.
If you are gaining just as much or more fat as muscle, then you are either eating too much, or your training or recovery is inadequate.
Adjust your calorie intake, macronutrient ratios, training intensity/volume, or recovery schedule accordingly to optimise results.
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