The #1 Tool in Bodyfat Testing
Dexa Scan Experience
Back in 2014, as a figure competitor, I wanted to know my body fat percentage and I wanted it to be accurate. I had calipers but how accurate can pinching your skin really be? So, I searched around for a place that did hyrdrostatic weighing, also known as underwater weighing where you get into a tank of water and hold yourself under while blowing all the air possible out of your lungs. Then, your body weight underwater, your body weight out of the water and the water density are all plugged into some complicated equation based on the fact that fat floats and muscle sinks and viola, you get the amount of fat on your bod.
This costed me $40 at the University of Minnesotas’ athletic department. That was all fine and dandy and went well, but along came the dexa scan. A dual x-ray system (used mostly for bone density scans) that uses low level x-rays (about 1/8 the radiation of a chest x-ray) to calculate the amount of fat, muscle and bone in your bod to 98% accuracy. Not only that but it can tell you how much fat and muscle you have on each limb and on each side of your trunk. Super cool! Great for bodybuilders who want to look their best and most symmetrical on stage as well as for a competitive performance athlete anyhoo…
Last fall, on my search for places that did dexa scans, I found a medical facility called Fairview Clinic in Apple Valley, MN that offered body composition dexa scans for $25! It is important to note the whole phrase “body composition dexa scan” because dexa scan machines are usually used for bone density scans and require a doctors’ referral where body composition dexa scans do not even though they use the same machine.
I made an appointment, went in, paid my $25. I laid down on this machine and had to stay as still as possible for a few minutes while the machine scanned my bod. The entire process from entering and leaving the office took about 15 minutes, maybe 20. I got a print out of a black and white figure (me) showing my skeleton and my fat and muscle mass. This particular print out did not show a color differentiation between the fat and muscle.
The print out also specified:
- % fat
- Total mass
- Tissue in lb’s
- Fat in lb’s
- Lean mass in lb’s
- BMC in lb’s
- Detailed layout of all of thee above for each limb, trunk, belly, hips and glutes
- Fat free lb’s
- % fat distribution around belly and hips and glutes
These progress pics were taken in November 2015 and January 2016. The Dexa Scan was done on November 19, 2015 so you can see what I look in person and what I look like on paper.
What I found most helpful in all of this was to know whether my muscularity was symmetrical as well as how much lean mass I actually had. This is much lower than I have previously calculated using other body fat tests like the calipers and my electronic Omron handheld body fat tester. Check out my 2016 off season progress and dexa scan comparisons here.
The DexaFit Experience
In that same search for a dexa scan place that I did last fall, I also found a business called DexaFit online and learned they were coming to Minneapolis, MN January of 2016. I emailed them as an interested party and was notified when they came to town.
Recently, I decided to take a better look into DexaFit and found that a dexa scan is $150. Of course, what comes to mind?… yep, you guessed it- da F**k! But, before jumping the gun I thought I would really see what was so great about DexaFit. I emailed DexaFit and asked why I would pay $150 instead of $25 for the same test. I was promptly answered by Vince, owner of the DexaFit company and was offered a tour of the Minneapolis location owned by Birgen Hartman and Brandon Dragos. They also offered a free dexa scan for a friend or client. I of course took Vince up on this offer to further my knowledge and redeem them of my “da F**k!”assumptions. I also must note here that Fairview raised the price of their body composition dexa scan to $75 and DexaFit offers discounted rates for ongoing customers and to certain personal trainers’ clients (ahem). They also have a personal trainer discount as well.
Anyhoo, who better to bring to DexaFit Minneapolis than my Mom and client (who has lost 40lb’s so far) to get a scan. On the way there, we did what any Mother and daughter would do on a 30 minute car trip… we jammed to good ol’ 90’s hits! I can thank my friend Angie for telling me about this AWESOME hip hop throwback radio station 102.5.
When we arrived at the tall office building where DexaFit resides, we were greeted in the lobby of the building by three people; Vince, owner of the DexaFit company, and Birgen and Brandon, owners of the DexaFit Minneapolis location. We walked on down to their office space and entered the lobby. Very modern, clean and crisp. That’s what I think when I see it but you will just have to go down and see for yourself. There were 3 rooms off of the lobby. One with the dexa scanner and computer, another with a treadmill and computer and the third with a chair and a computer.
While they got my mom ready for her scan, I got the spiel on DexaFit, their services and why you should utilize their biz.
You want the most thorough fitness stats about your body? Well, I am pretty sure you have come to the right place. You can find out an exact caloric value that you need to maintain your current bod. They have a test that will tell you what percentage of fat and carbs your body burns as its preferred fuel source. You will find out how much muscle and fat you have and where it resides including visceral fat (in abdominal cavity around organs), subcutaneous fat (directly under the skin) and soon to come blood testing and a keto breath test.
When my Mom was done with her scan, Birgen went over the 9 page print out of her results which I did not get at Fairview (the interpretation or the 9 pages) and there were a few things I didn’t know how to interpret. The print out included all of the info I got in mine above except the body on my Mom’s was color coded showing where her fat was and where her muscle was. My test at Fariview also did not tell me how much visceral fat I had as the DexaFit software calculates.
Currently, DexaFit Minneapolis offers:
- Dexa scan– know your body fat and lean mass and its distribution.
- RMR – resting metabolic rate. Get your precise caloric intake number.
- VO2 max– pinpoint your fitness level to maximize training.
Soon to come:
- Blood panel– identify bio-markers and determine where you may or may not be deficient or have imbalances.
- Genetic testing– further info to help individual your own fitness program.
- uBiome– tells you how your gut microbes are functioning. An extremely important part of your health and well being.
Now I could go on FOREVER as to why you would want to know how much visceral fat you have as it is a risk indicator for diabetes and even dementia. Or the benefits of knowing your bone density and muscle mass, especially in your aged years. But getting a blood panel done for use to create an ultra personalized diet, supplement and fitness program for optimum performance for the average joe or an athlete is the BOMB.COM! And the uBiome will be a great tool as the health of your gut and its’ microbes is connected to the health of your entire body… including your brain… and who doesn’t want to feel fricken amazing everyday with the confidence in knowing they are doing what is exactly right for their body? That’s the shiz.
Not only is all of this info GREAT from in optimal performance standpoint, and I am not just talking about athletes, I am talking about everyday life here but all of this information is a great preventative care tool as you have measurable personalized numbers that can help motivate you to improve so you can come back and see the positive changes.
I also love that I can see my muscle symmetry in exact numbers. And for the muscular person that may show on that dumb BMI chart that they are obese when they are really in a normal body fat range… this is for you!
If you are very muscular, your BMI may be inaccurate when you go to the doc where a person that is 15% BF but very muscular shows an obese BMI. This info gets sent to health insurance companies or life insurance companies and creates a giant headache and higher premiums for this 15% BF muscular person. Luckily, a dexa scan can come to your rescue and prove you are muscular and not a fatty as this has been done.
Other forms of body fat testing
There are many ways to test your body fat to use as a tracking tool. Even though numbers may not be accurate on what ever test you do, if you do it consistently and in the same way, it makes for a good tracking tool.
- Body Fat Calipers: $5 – $20
You can buy calipers for $5 up to $200. The cheaper ones will work just fine as long as you are consistent.
- Electronic handheld body fat tester: $20-$35
These are handy and easy electronic devices that quickly tells you your body fat percent.
Contact athletic departments at universities in your area or other gyms and athletic businesses. Or simply search “Under water weighing” or “ hydrostatic body composition analysis” online in your area.
- Bod pod: $35-$50
Contact athletic departments at universities in your area or other gyms and athletic businesses. Or simply search “bod pod” online in your area.