Atlantic Endocrinology New York City

What Is Body Composition?

At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center, in New York, we want to share with you and we want you to know that understanding how your total body weight is shared across your soft-tissues and bones can be a great guide to your overall general health.

  Your total body weight is made up of two parts:

  1. Body fat.

  2. Lean body mass.

Globally, there are currently more people that are obese than are underweight. There is now more demand than ever for weight loss treatments, medications and more.

But, before taking medications and beginning treatments, people need to understand what their body is made up of before looking to lose weight.

What your body is made up of is more important than what you weigh. What is inside your body is what can have a detrimental impact on your health.

What Is Body Composition

How does nutrition fit into body composition?

The nutrients you consume and your daily physical/mental activities, ultimately determine your health, vitality, and body appearance.

Your body is constantly using and metabolizing amino acids, sugars, and fats. They are needed to sustain vital tissues, repair cells, build new cells and provide energy.

There is a constant balance at work between the nutrients we consume — taken in the form of protein, carbohydrates, and fats — and their absorption, utilization, and storage in the body.

When deficiencies occur, cellular components are ultimately harvested to meet the immediate needs of critical systems. When the balance tips in the other direction, excess nutrients end up getting stored for later use.

The body’s main storage vault is the fat cell. After your body is done metabolizing all of the nutrients it needs, any excess will be used to produce fatty acids, which are then stored in the fat cell.


Weight Loss Does Not Always Mean Fat Loss


When you lose weight, you often lose fat, muscle, and water (not just fat).

The vast majority (if not all) of patients would be thrilled if their weight loss caused a loss in body fat alone, preserving their skeletal muscle mass. Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works.

When you first lose weight, you may lose a great deal of lean tissue (muscle) and water weight. If your total body weight and BMI decreases, but you look the same in the mirror, it’s a sign you aren’t losing fat.


Skinny Does Not Always Mean Healthy


It’s possible and common to have a low BMI while still having a considerable amount of fat on one’s body.

There are two types of fat: visceral fat and subcutaneous fat.


  • Subcutaneous fat is the fat that lays just below the surface of the skin.

  • Visceral fat, on the other hand, crowds around your organs, and is considered to be far more dangerous to your health.


Too much visceral fat on the body can lead to a number of health risks, including certain types of cancer, heart disease, and even diabetes.

A person with a high percentage of visceral fat tissue could appear trim and healthy on the surface (leading to the common phrase, “skinny fat”). Therefore, it’s important to understand the percent of total body fat, muscle mass, total body water weight, and bone mineral weight in the body.

How can you improve your body composition

Body composition plays a critical role in the individual’s health across all age groups.  Recent research has shown that it is especially important for children. In fact, poor body composition during childhood is a precursor to a variety of lifelong health issues.

The two major body composition components that the individual can change are their fat mass and their muscle mass.

Fat mass can be decreased and muscle mass can be increased.

Though losing fat and gaining muscle usually require different nutritional and exercise requirements, the combination of the two achieved together is considered the holy grail of health and fitness.

Use Body Composition Measurements To Tackle Your Health Goals

Your weight and BMI are often used as baseline measurements for wellness. Unfortunately, neither measurement gives an accurate depiction of how healthy you truly are.

The human body is made up of water, bones, muscle, and fat — which can only be measured through a body composition analysis.

While body composition measurements are difficult to calculate and more expensive than other health measurements, they are (by far) the most accurate.

Once you measure your body composition, at Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center we can use it to set realistic goals and a targeted training and nutrition plan.