How InBody compares to others

In today's competitive world, it's important to research products and services and compare all the available options. And finding a body composition testing method that you are comfortable with is no exception.

Regardless of which method is chosen to determine body composition, sticking to it over a period of time will still provide valuable data to track progress. Which one is the “absolute best” is impossible to say or to even find out unless a government funds a study comparing all tests in laboratory conditions. Most of the tests out there have been funded by the very companies that designed their own body composition tests, so the results can be, and often are, biased.

The important factor to consider is the equality of conditions when performing each assessment, as a single change in conditions from one scan to the next, as in what you had to eat or drink that day or the technician who performed the test, could greatly impact your results.

This is perhaps the greatest advantage of having your InBody composition scans at Smart Analysis, as your results are neither guessed by mathematical calculations based purely on your age, gender, height and weight, nor are they affected by the analyst running the test. What “you are” is what you get.

The fact that you can take multiple tests in succession and always get the same results is a testament to the reliability of our scans and perhaps the clearest advantage over the other methods available . . . all of which show a significant variance when taken in succession or when performed by different technicians or testers.

And when you factor in availability, convenience, consultation and cost, tracking your body composition with Smart Analysis is clearly your best choice.
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The video below showcases the evolution of body composition analysis from the earlier trial-and-error stages of Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) methods to today's highly accurate InBody technology.

Introduction

Any type of body composition testing that encourages people to make positive lifestyle changes is a test worth taking. Here, however, we present the reasons why we opted to specialise in InBody technology as opposed to any of the others available.

Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)

Commonly regarded as the industry's gold standard, DEXA scanning was originally designed for medical use, mainly to perform bone density and soft tissue analyses on people with debilitating diseases such as osteoporosis or muscular dystrophy. Similar to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), DEXA scanning consists of lying flat on a bed in your underwear or a hospital coat as the scanner takes detailed pictures of your body using a magnetic field and radio waves.

PROS
  • An excellent scan for people with medical conditions that require a high level of soft tissue and bone density scanning.
  • The most studied and widely used bone density measurement method available as at the time of this writing.
CONS
  • As your brain is composed of fatty tissue, DEXA scans consider it to be "just fat", resulting in an overestimation of body fat percentage by up to three points (for the brain alone). For people with general health and fitness interests, this would defeat the purpose of paying a high a premium for getting an accurate scan.
  • Lab technicians do not work in the fitness industry, so if your goals are geared towards health and fitness, they are unable to properly guide you in the right direction. There is also a significant margin of error based on their ability to accurately fill in the gaps on the computer screen (with a mouse) that were missed by the scan. As the results are achieved by subtracting the “pixels” attributed to bones from the rest of the body, when it comes to body fat, the estimation can be far less accurate than commonly portrayed if the technician misses (or adds) areas to the resulting scan.
  • Extremely dependent on proper machine calibration. Results reported by identical machines on the same subjects on the same day can have variations of up to 5% depending on their calibration settings.
  • You will not learn what adjustments to make to your nutrition and exercise routine to achieve your fitness goals from a lab technician.
  • The inconvenience of undressing and making a time consuming appointment at a medical facility is also worth noting, along with its high cost of ~$90 per scan as at the time of this writing.
Underwater Weighing

Used to be the industry standard and is still considered to be by some, even though it's mainly designed to determine body density, not composition. It requires to be fully submerged underwater while exhaling.

PROS
  • In the absence of any other methods, it can provide a fair body composition assessment provided that proper protocol is followed by both the technician and the subject. It can also be fun (if you like undressing in front of strangers).
CONS
  • Limited availability.
  • Very inconvenient, labour intensive and invasive, as it requires undressing and being submerged underwater.
  • Inaccessible for many people with special needs such as the elderly and the chronically ill.
  • Results are greatly affected by machine calibration and what you had to eat/drink hours before the test, not to mention that several tries are needed to teach the subject how to properly submerge without any air in their lungs (something most people find very difficult to do).
  • You will not learn what adjustments to make to your nutrition and exercise routine to achieve your fitness goals.
  • It can be as expensive as a DEXA scan.
Air Displacement Plethysmography (BOD POD)

Estimates body composition from body density under the principle of greater density = leaner body. As it uses a similar principle to that of underwater weighing, the accuracy is comparable, though this test is arguably less prone to error by external factors, such as what you had to eat before the test.

PROS
  • With variance rates of up to 5%, it’s a fair option to measure body composition based on body density.
  • Much more convenient than underwater weighing.
  • Unaffected by the technician’s skill.
CONS
  • Very limited availability (mainly universities and medical facilities).
  • You will not learn what adjustments to make to your nutrition and exercise routine to achieve your fitness goals from a lab technician.
  • Should be less expensive than a DEXA.
Skinfold Calipers

A small handheld tool, often carried by fitness professionals, that helps estimate body fat percentage by “pinching” certain areas of the body. The body fat estimations are based on the thickness of skin folds. While completely undressing is not necessary, most of the measurements require skin access to the chest, belly, back and thighs.

PROS
  • Very versatile and convenient.
  • Can be performed in the comfort of your own home.
  • Apart from the low cost of a cheap set of plastic calipers, all measurements are perpetually free.
CONS
  • Can only estimate fat percentage and is somewhat invasive, as it requires the tester to grab your skin and pinch it with the calipers multiple times.
  • Body fat estimations vary wildly (often over 10%) depending on the person performing the measurement.
  • Unusable by people in the obese range.
  • A partner and an online calculator are needed to complete multiple-point tests.
  • While cheap and easily accessible, they’re not suitable for people with serious health and fitness objectives.

Official references on the pros and cons of the methods listed on this page can be provided upon request.

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