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What actually is BIA measurement and what does it tell me about my health?

BIA measurement is on many people's lips right now, but what does it actually mean and what results can one expect?

A medical measurement method for determining body composition

Bioelectrical impedance analysis uses an electrical resistance measurement to determine the composition of the body and to provide information about one's state of health, nutritional status, and risk of a diet-related illness.

Compared to classical measurement methods, such as the BMI (body mass index) and calipometry (measuring the thickness of subcutaneous tissue), BIA measurement enables a significantly more differentiated analysis of one's health. For this reason, it has become established as a recognised medical measurement method that is of great importance in nutritional medicine, especially in cases of obesity and diseases of lipid metabolism, but also in the field of sports.

The prerequisites for an accurate measurement and analysis of the data are a professional set of scales that are medically approved, a software program that aggregates and visualises the data, and, of course, a specialist who can explain the measurement results.

A harmless measurement method

The measurement is fast and harmless. Only a very weak electrical pulse, which cannot be felt, is passed through the body (AC 0.8 mA at 50kHz). Based on the different flow resistances of musculature and body fat, conclusions can be drawn as to the percentage of water in the body.

Exception: The procedure may not be performed on people who wear a pacemaker or have other electrical implants. The procedure is equally unsuitable for pregnant women.

Body composition measurement data

A BIA measurement provides data for evaluating body fat, including abdominal fat surrounding the internal organs, muscle mass, skeletal muscle mass, bodily water, basal metabolic rate and BMI. The interpretation of these values is always related to total body weight, height, gender and age.

Initial medical history and measurement at intervals for monitoring progress

One-time measurement serves as a nutrition-based health check-up where, in addition to total weight, determination of fat percentage, relative abdominal fat and the fat distribution pattern, in particular, reveal important statements about one's state of health. One's muscle mass percentage illustrates one's current fitness level. These fine diagnostics make it possible to make a relatively accurate statement about one's personal basal metabolic rate level, which is an important basis for any type of nutritional programme. Progress monitoring is a good tool for checking whether the patient is actually losing fat mass during a reduction diet, or a disproportionate amount of muscle mass – a common problem that occurs mainly with lopsided diets and inadequate accompanying training to build muscle. For athletes, too, a repeated BIA measurement is advantageous, in order to optimise and adapt the content of one's training.

Sauna sessions and heavy meals before the measurement lead to inaccurate results

The balance of water in the body is subject to natural fluctuations, which are enhanced by certain activities as well as food and fluid intake. You should therefore follow the following recommendations: do not consume any alcohol or visit a sauna for 12 hours (better 24 hours) beforehand, do not workout for at least 6 hours beforehand, do not eat any heavy meals or drink large amounts for at least 2 hours before the measurement.

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