To DEXA or not? Brace yourself for truth.
The first time I got a DEXA scan was in 2012 when I was 51 years old. I was the leanest and most fit I’d ever been in my entire life. My total body weight was 124.2 pounds. My LBM (Lean Body Mass) was 104.5 pounds. My total body fat was 14.2 pounds.
I’ve had hydrostatic, bioimpedance, tape measure, and caliper tests but none of them hold a candle to the DEXA scan. A DEXA scan is the gold standard and is the most accurate. It’s also quite reasonable in price. I got one again this past June at UC-Davis California for $75 dollars. More information can be found on where you can get DEXA scans in your area.
The advantage of the DEXA scan over other methods is that it’s measuring your body fat and giving you precise measurements.
DEXA stands for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. It can show you overall body fat, lean tissue, bone weight, and percentages. It breaks down values for both legs, both arms, and your torso. It can show you the visceral fat around your organs that is dangerous for health, as well as your bone density.
What are the reasons someone would want to get a DEXA scan?
DEXA helps you monitor your progress. Just using a body weight scale often hides progress. When you embark on calorie deficit nutrition plan combined with exercise, you can mistakenly think you are getting minimal or no results. The DEXA can help show you true progress by showing you actual body fat and Lean Body Mass.
Aesthetic fitness goals or body building
If your goal is to lose body fat and build muscle, the DEXA scan shows you the truth regarding how much gain is muscle or fat, which can help you dial in your calories and macros, as well as your exercise routine.
Athletic and Fitness enthusiasts
Along with using the DEXA scan for body fat measurements, athletes can see muscle asymmetries between their right and left side. Muscle imbalances cause a person to favor one side or use improper form which can cause miscoordination and stress that causes injury.
Getting a baseline helps you see where you are and to track progress over time. We can lose muscle and bone mass as we age. Having this baseline can help us identify concerns and take preventative action if possible.
For women in midlife, or postmenopausal, it’s good to know your bone density and if you are at risk of osteoporosis.
Why brace yourself?
Most of us have an idea of our standing with health or body fat, roughly. We know when our weight creeps up, we know when we are not as strong as we once were. We kind of know right?
But just like stepping on the body weight scale and facing the truth, sometimes the DEXA scan giving you the truth is a real wake up call. You might need to brace yourself to be ready for it.
One woman found at 115 pounds, she was obese, because 43.5 pounds of that was pure body fat.
I was happy when I had my DEXA scan in 2012, not so much last month, but I’ll go into all that next.
What did DEXA show me?
First, my bone density. Here’s a picture from WEINSTEINIMAGING that shows what the values mean:
Here’s what I got in 2012 at age 51:
BMD Total 1.245
The Android region is that of the abdomen. The Gynoid region is that around the hips and thighs. The VAT (Visceral Adipose Tissue) within the android region is fat that is associated with several types of metabolic diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
Total body composition: Total Mass 124.2 lbs., Lean Mass 104.5 lbs., Fat Mass 14.2 lbs.
Android composition: Android Mass 8.7 lbs., Android Lean 8.1 lbs., Android fat .4 lbs.
Gynoid 16.8% fat, Android/Gynoid ration 0.30
VAT Fat mass 0.06 lbs.
Now for the results of this year’s test, June 2019, age 58
This time I got my RMR and TDEE from the scan: RMR=1400 calories and TDEE=1680 calories
Note RMR stands for Resting Metabolic Rate and TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
BMD Total 1.108
Total body composition: Total Mass 131.9 lbs., Lean Mass 102.28 lbs., Fat Mass 29.65 lbs.
Android composition: Android Mass 9.43 lbs., Android Lean 7.89 lbs., Android fat 1.54 lbs.
Gynoid composition: Gynoid Mass 24.1 lbs., Gynoid Lean 17.14 lbs., Gynoid fat 6.97 lbs.
Android/Gynoid ratio .57
VAT Fat mass Normal risk
I was a little disappointed and have not really wanted to talk about it. The numbers are going in the right direction. Is it age? Can my LBM go up slightly? Time will tell.
What am I doing about it?
Everything I can.
I joined the 1st Phorm App and I’m using the convenient “take pictures” option to track my progress until I get another DEXA scan done, possibly next year.
I'm starting to make progress, I took the day 1 pictures right after the DEXA scan!
I’m getting myself a little more consistent with weight lifting.
I’m focused more on nutrition, and currently running a little Fall macro challenge in my Nibbles Fitness FB group. We are having fun in there!
If you want to join me in the All-In-One Fitness app, I’d be happy to have you. I can help you with nutrition, macros, workouts, and you’ll have access to fitness coffee talks and live health and fitness presentations. I’ll be there to walk the journey with you. to and download the app, register, and then email me.
Cheers to our health!