What To Expect During A DEXA Scan

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What to Expect During A DEXA Scan: The Most Accurate Way to Measure Your Body Fat

(and how to find out how much energy you’re actually burning)

Are you new to macro counting and want to gather all the necessary information to gain an accurate assessment of your macronutrient goals? Or maybe you’re just curious about the state of your health. No matter what triggers the interest of finding out your body fat percentage, the DEXA scan is one of the most accurate tools out there today.

DEXA Scan Preparations

DEXA stands for dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. A DEXA scan has the ability to read your body composition through an analyzation of bone mass, fat tissue, and lean muscle mass. If you wanted to get undergo a DEXA scan, then you can expect the whole process taking around a total of six and a half minutes. The process requires you to lay flat on an x-ray table completely still so your body can be scanned. In preparation for a DEXA scan the only requirements are  that you refrain from exercise, ingesting food, and stimulants at least four hours prior to the testing.

What does a DEXA scan read?

The DEXA scan analyzes your lean mass. This includes all the different parts of the body that exclude body fat such as your lean muscles and fluids. In fact, it even analyzes your muscle symmetry. The test is able to record the balance of your right to left lean mass symmetry, giving you a better idea of where muscle imbalances may exist (if you have any).

The DEXA scan also analyzes your fat mass and the percent of fat tissue you have. It tells you where your fat is distributed. The regions it specifically references is the android and gynoid area. The android (waist) area is typically less than the gynoid (hip) area, however, this depends mainly on gender. A common area for fat storage in men is seen in the belly and midsection (android area) while women tend to store fat in their hips and upper thighs (gynoid area).

This test also has the ability of performing a bone densitometry test. This means it compares your Bone Mineral Density (BMD) to that of a young adult with peak bone density in order to give you an optimal idea of where the health of your bones lie.

However, the fun doesn’t really start until you’ve gone back for a second or third time to see the side by side comparisons.

That’s right.

Once you get one test you can continue to go back to analyze how you’re losing body fat and if your muscle imbalances are improving.

Pretty cool, huh?

For example, my own personal exam was a great measure of where my body fat currently sits. However, the clinician running my scan recommended that I wait at least two months before I went back to get my second scan done in order to compare an accurate difference in body fat and muscle composition.

My results not only gave me a good idea of my body fat percentage as well as lean muscle mass percentage, but it gave me an accurate reading of my bone density and any muscle imbalances I had as well. My bone density was above average, which suggests that potentially having and eating a healthy, balanced diet is key to my healthy bones result. I also had zero imbalances in my overall muscle mass (most likely thanks to my weightlifting coach).

All of these factors are important to consider when figuring out the best nutrition and strength programming. Whether you’re trying to gain more control over your health or have just become curious with where you stand -- the DEXA scan is one of the most accurate readings of body fat percentage out there today. The cost can vary, depending on where you go. However, it isn’t cheap. It’s typically over 100 dollars for a scan. With that being said, if you’re still interested, you can simply google DEXA scans near you and one or two locations is sure to pop up.

The next time you’re trying to figure out your macronutrients, getting a DEXA scan is a guaranteed way to get your most accurate statistics. Your body (and your nutrition coach) will thank you.

Stephanie LodgeComment