Skeletal Muscle Index

Skeletal Muscle Index

As we age, our bodies start to lose muscle mass; as more sedentary behavior is adopted, this rate of loss increases, exacerbating the age-related risk of injury.

By regularly using the InBody 570 you can see if you are building or losing muscle/bone and can measure each segment of the body. You want to make sure that your strength training program and your nutrition is keeping your muscle mass up and in the right areas. Remember this is a FREE service offered by Shape-Up.

As the population continues to live longer, preservation of lean mass becomes an integral part of maintaining one’s independence and quality of life. Loss of muscle in the arms and legs is associated with reductions in mobility, increased risk of falls and frailty, and prolonged length of hospital stay.

Tracking changes in weight is a poor method for monitoring changes in health status. Muscle mass cannot be detected using the BMI method commonly used, as the loss of muscle may be masked by the fat gain ( skinny fat ). InBody provides accurate measures of body composition, including muscle-fat balance, percent body fat, and visceral fat, allowing a better tracking method of physiological changes. This in-depth analysis provides an edge for identifying health risks and preventing progression to chronic diseases associated with muscle-fat imbalances.

As lifestyle patterns shift, physical activity is reduced, and poor dietary habits can result in both muscle loss and fat gain. Weight may remain stable as these body composition changes occur, making it difficult to track changes in health status using weight or BMI. Indeed, as sedentary behavior persists over time, the continuous loss of muscle and gain of fat results in a severe muscle-fat imbalance, a condition known as sarcopenic obesity. This phenomenon combines the adverse effects of both sarcopenia and obesity, significantly increasing long-term health risk and risk of mortality; however, this is not adequately reflected by BMI. Instead, monitoring the balance between muscle and fat as well as percent body fat (PBF) can help identify your current health status and to guide your recommendations.

In addition to muscle-fat balance and PBF, it is important to monitor fat distribution. Visceral fat comprises the fat located in the abdominal region, surrounding and protecting vital organs. It is metabolically active and increased visceral fat storage has been associated with a variety of chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. With a comprehensive evaluation of body composition, including muscle mass and fat distribution, trainers and physicians can track physiological changes and recommend better exercise and nutritional programs…

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Eat Healthy When Traveling

Eat Healthy When Traveling

Vacation Doesn’t Need To Derail Your Goals — Here’s How To Eat Healthy When Traveling

It’s one thing to eat healthy in the comfort of your own home, but it’s another thing altogether to stick to your healthy eating goals when you’re traveling.

There are so many more temptations, and it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll avoid all of them. Instead, it’s important to strike a balance between eating a foundation of nourishing foods, but also enjoying yourself.

In other words, eating while on vacation doesn’t need to be all or nothing — you don’t have to choose between indulging or staying on track. You can do both!
Here are 6 tips that will help you maintain your healthy habits but not deprive yourself during your travels.

Do your homework ahead of time.

Where are you going and for how long? What’s the food culture there like? Are there specific foods you want to experience? Are you staying in a city with lots of food options or a more remote area with less access to restaurants and grocery stores? Have you visited this location before or do you know someone who has?

When figuring out your eating strategy for an upcoming trip, the above questions are all helpful to consider. Once you have clarity on some of the specifics, you can more easily make decisions around nutrition.

For example, if you’re staying in a location with lots of different food options, you can scope out local grocery stores, health food stores, restaurants, and cafes beforehand. Look at menus and make sure there are options that fit within your goals. If there are new and exciting foods unique to this area, consider which you’ll want to indulge in and which you don’t mind missing out on. Rely on friends who have been before for recommendations, or do some of your own research by looking at travel blogs or sites like Yelp and Open Table. If you find that there are a limited number of healthy options, you can work around it — read on!

Pack nourishing food or stock up when you arrive.

Bringing healthy food means you’ll be much more likely to eat it, rather than grabbing something quick and easy — like a bag of chips — when hunger strikes. This can also save you some money. Depending on where you’re going and how you’re getting there, you can buy food ahead of time to bring with you, or you can stop by a local grocery store when you arrive.

Here are some ideas of non-perishable foods to pack or buy when you arrive:

  • Beef jerky (or a meat-based bar like Epic Meat Bar)
  • Dried fruit (the KBK nutrition team loves dried mango)
  • Dry-roasted or raw nuts and/or seeds (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
  • Individually-wrapped nut butter packets from brands like RxBar or Justin’s
  • Protein bars with quality ingredients (Like Epic Performance Bar, Orgain, or RxBar)
  • Low sugar granola (we like Purely Elizabeth and Autumn’s Gold)
  • Plain instant oats (ask for hot water on a plane or train) or pre-mixed to-go oatmeal-like Purely Elizabeth (we love their Collagen Protein Oats)
  • Grass-fed whey or beef or plant-based protein powder with quality ingredients (like Equip Foods, SFH, (you can mix this into plain oats and top with nuts and/or dried fruit)
  • Bone broth (liquid in a carton you can reheat like Kettle and Fire or an instant mix like Bare Bones)

If your trip involves a plane ride, these snacks are especially useful to have on hand. That way, you won’t have to rely on the often processed snacks provided by the airline. If you’re flying long distances and have food allergies or specific restrictions, be sure to ask about special meals ahead of time.

Choose accommodations that allow you to store or even prepare some of your own healthy meals.
Non-perishable foods are generally easy to store no matter where you’re staying, but booking accommodations with a refrigerator and even a kitchen is always helpful.

If you’re planning to stay in a hotel, check if the rooms have refrigerators. If not, call and ask if you can request one to be brought to your room for the duration of your stay. This way, you’ll have a place to keep the healthy food you bring with you or buy (plus, this will expand the options of which foods you can bring with).

If non-hotel accommodations are an option where you’re going, look to stay in an apartment, condo, or house that includes a kitchen or kitchenette. These are very easy to find when booking through a site like Airbnb or HomeAway. That way, if you’d prefer not to eat out every day of your trip, you can cook some of your own meals.

You may even choose to get KBK meals delivered to where you’re staying if it’s in the continental US and you have somewhere to store the food.

Aim to keep some of your healthy eating habits intact, but accept the fact that you won’t eat perfectly.
Start your vacation by accepting the fact that you’re simply not going to eat perfectly while traveling (or really, any other time). This will help you to shift your mindset and concentrate on what you can control versus what you cannot.
To set yourself up for success when traveling, aim to consume healthy, nutrient-dense food at least most of the time. Then, when you do indulge or eat foods outside of your usual routine, it won’t be that big of a deal.

For example, try to balance the majority of your meals with protein, fat, and complex carbs set a goal to eat at least three servings of veggies each day, and aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Doing these simple things (or any others you prioritize) will help you feel confident that you’re supporting your health and leaving wiggle room to enjoy yourself while traveling — which brings us to our next important tip…

Enjoy yourself, and don’t agonize over your food choices.
Travel is special — it doesn’t happen every day. Whether you’re on vacation or traveling for business, you’ll inevitably end up outside of your usual routine, and that requires some adjusting. Being overly strict with your diet may hinder your experience and limit how much you can actually enjoy yourself (yes, even work travel doesn’t need to be miserable!). Food is part of the experience. Sampling the local cuisine is one way to get the most out of your trip and make memories.

Unless you travel on a routine basis, in the grand scheme of things, travel is probably only a small portion of your overall life. This doesn’t mean that “what happens on vacation, stays on vacation,” but it’s also perfectly okay (and healthy) to let the reigns go a little bit when you’re traveling.

Aim to be present, make conscious choices about what to eat and how much, and choose what’s worth it to you. Then, savor it, and move on.

Don’t go on a strict diet to prepare for, or deprive yourself after, travel.
Just because you’re going to treat yourself on vacation doesn’t mean you need to restrict in preparation for the trip. It also doesn’t mean you need to diet when you get back. These thought patterns and yo-yo habits can negatively impact you in the long run. Under-eating in preparation can cause you to overeat and overindulge when traveling. Forcing yourself to go on a strict diet when you return can make you feel guilty for enjoying yourself while traveling and even make you feel anxious about future travel.

It’s fairly common for the scale to show a small increase post-travel, especially if you’ve traveled through time zones or different climates. Plus, you may be holding onto some water weight or inflammation from being out of your usual routine. And if you actually did gain a few pounds, it’s not the end of the world! In the vast majority of cases, your body will return to its prior weight simply by you getting back to your usual, pre-travel routine and being patient.

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Osteoarthritis And Exercise

Osteoarthritis And Exercise

Obesity is a prevalent health concern in the modernized world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of obesity is reported as 39.8% of the population, affecting approximately 93.3 million American adults. Obesity is a known risk factor for many common health concerns, including heart disease and diabetes.

However, obesity is not only associated with cardiometabolic diseases. It is also responsible for ailments to the musculoskeletal system. In this article, we’ll discuss a detrimental effect of obesity on our physical body; more specifically, the role that obesity plays in those with osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis commonly affects a number of our weight-bearing joints and can cause pain, disability, and negatively affect our ability to exercise and stay active.

Osteoarthritis has long been considered as a natural response to aging and although this is true, at least in part, the role that our body composition plays in our joint health requires due consideration.

But how can we effectively influence our body composition and lose weight, while managing chronic conditions like osteoarthritis? Is it possible to exercise and lose weight with osteoarthritis? Although the situation may seem daunting, hope may still lie ahead. Through this article, we will look at the link between obesity and osteoarthritis, discovering how these conditions affect day to day life and how these challenges can be overcome.

The Link Between Obesity and Osteoarthritis (OA)

Like many common health conditions, a variety of factors contribute to the development of osteoarthritis (or OA as is it is commonly called), including genetic and lifestyle factors.

Research supports that obesity is a significant risk factor in the development of OA. At first glance, this idea seems relatively straightforward as extra body weight equals increased load on our joints, especially our weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees.

Increased pressure through our joints, may lead to early “wear and tear” and eventual development of OA. It has been further described in the literature, that these additional pounds may affect our biomechanics and gait patterns, increasing pressure through our joints; which may also contribute to the development of OA.

However, there is more to the story. Obesity has also been shown to be a risk factor even in non-weight-bearing joints.

This may be explained if consideration is given to adipose (or fat) tissue itself. Adipose tissue has been found to be endocrinologically active. More than just a passive insulator, adipose tissue is in fact metabolically active and involved in the “secretion of various adipokines and cytokines”, which has been shown to potentially promote an inflammatory process in the body. These pro-inflammatory adipokines and cytokines may have detrimental effects on joint tissue including “damage to cartilage, joint synovium, and subchondral bone”. In other words, the effect of inflammation on the joints in our body may contribute to the development of OA.

The Joints of Biggest Concern

Although osteoarthritis can ultimately affect any moveable joint in the body, those of biggest concern are those to which we carry the greatest load. Notably, our hips and our knees are of significant concern when considering the impacts of both obesity and osteoarthritis and the interplay between these two conditions.

Our hips and knees play an essential role during weight-bearing exercise. Keeping these joints healthy is of utmost importance to remain active and live a healthy lifestyle. We will discuss the impact of osteoarthritis in our lower limb joints and the relationship to obesity in more detail later on.

How Can Weight-Loss Help?

There is a significant relationship between your body weight and your risk of developing OA. Research has shown that for every 11 lbs of weight you gain, your relative risk in developing OA is increased by 36%. Obesity has been shown to worsen the severity of OA and increase OA progression compared to those of normal weight. In other words, maintaining a healthy weight can have a substantial positive effect on your joint health.

Research has further described that not only weight loss, but your body composition also matters. In fact, the reduction of central fat around the abdomen and reductions in girth of our legs has been shown to assist in the “normalization of joint alignment”.

To put it another way, the reduction of body fat in our mid-section and thighs has been shown to have positive implications to our joint health, which could potentially influence the impact of osteoarthritis on our weight-bearing joints.

  • The more weight you gain, the greater your risk of OA.
  • OA is more severe in those with Obesity.
  • OA progresses more quickly in those who are overweight.
  • Weight-loss has positive implications for those with OA.
  • Your body composition matters, with abdominal obesity negatively affecting our weight-bearing joints.
  • Improving your body composition may positively influence your joint health.

Lean Body Mass and the OA Connection

Another important component of body composition worth consideration in relation to OA, is the role of Lean Body Mass. In the case of your weight-bearing joints such as your hips and knees, the Lean Body Mass in your lower limbs plays a specific role.

Individuals with knee arthritis and less lower limb muscle mass may experience more joint pain. Maintaining appropriate Lean Body Mass around the weight-bearing joints then is essential in assisting those living with OA to reduce pain and allow for an active, healthy lifestyle.

Research has also discovered that individuals with a certain collection of physical traits, including higher bone mass, higher fat mass, and a higher Body Mass Index, have a greater incidence of osteoarthritis of the knee. Additionally, they found that those with OA in the knee had proportionally lower total body lean mass than those who did not have OA.

While it has not yet been determined if low lean body mass is the direct cause of OA or a result, maintaining good Lean Body Mass is important to protect your weight-bearing joints and limit pain in those suffering from OA!

Can Exercise be Harmful to Your Joints?

A commonly held belief exists that exercise over time, may in fact be harmful to your weight-bearing joints. Although this statement may seem familiar, there is in fact little evidence to support this idea, for the majority of exercise, for most people.

Let me explain…
For the vast majority of people, most types of exercise have not been shown to cause harm to our joints. In fact, exercise offers a host of benefits, including benefits for our joint health.

As discussed in the review article above, some individuals do need to approach with caution, such as those individuals who have had a prior injury to their joint, such as a knee injury, where stabilizing structures have been affected. Those with a prior joint injury should further consult a medical practitioner for advice in this area.

Another vulnerable group with regard to exercise are those athletes where exercises are particularly repetitive or high intensity, with high impact forces through the affected joints. This notion is especially true in sports where there is a “high associated risk of injury”, such as contact sports. Sports injuries affecting the stabilizing structures of the joints may affect the way you move or may change the way normal forces are translated through the joints, potentially increasing the risk of OA.

For the majority of people, however, regular exercise has not been shown to be a major risk factor in developing OA. For weight maintenance goals alone, exercise is an essential component, as we will further discuss.

So Just How Does Exercise Help?

Exercise is an essential component of any healthy lifestyle and plays a key role in maintaining Lean Body Mass and positively affects our body composition. Exercise should be a key component of any weight-management program and can help support the proper stabilization and alignment of our weight-bearing joints, promoting joint health.

A study describing the effects of exercise and weight-loss in those with hip OA showed favorable outcomes. After participating in an 8-month exercise program, study participants who were overweight and obese reported a 32% improvement in self-reported physical function, with significant improvements seen in pain and walking abilities. Participants in this study also experienced significant improvements in overall body composition, including decreases in body mass and body fat percentages.

In those suffering from OA of the knee, a clinical review of the literature on this subject showed that there is solid evidence for the benefit of exercise therapy in those suffering from knee OA and some indication that it is underused as a treatment modality. The article further supported that ‘moderate exercise did not lead to the acceleration of knee arthritis’.

Exercise is an essential part of any healthy lifestyle and should be a part of any program to support weight management. In those with OA, exercise is no less important, especially when considering the effects of excessive weight on our weight-bearing joints. Exercise has been shown to have considerable benefits in those with OA in their knees and hips.

In those with OA, a low impact exercise program is recommended and may include activities such as walking, biking, swimming or other aquatic exercises. The effects of aquatic exercise or those involving a seated bicycle are good options as they can lessen the impact on our weight-bearing joints while offering the protective effects of exercise.

The Combination Effect

Exercise and weight loss, together, have been shown through research to be the optimal approach for those living with OA. Studies have described that although dietary changes, such as caloric restriction can result in weight loss, in those with OA, exercise is required to help with mobility, self-reported function, and pain.

Long-term weight management in those with OA is complicated by the effects of OA itself including pain and disability. Greater initial weight loss in those with OA has been shown to be associated with better compliance with treatment and a better long-term prognosis.

Weight loss and weight maintenance, in general, can be complex when considering chronic health conditions such as OA. Reaching initial weight loss goals continued goal setting, healthy eating patterns such as eating nutrient-dense meals and monitoring caloric intake may offer further assistance in this area.

Regular exercise also helps to promote Lean Body Mass itself. In those who lose weight to lessen the symptoms of knee OA, it is recommended to include an exercise regimen in order to add or restore lower body muscle mass. The intention of this recommendation is to help maintain functionality in the joint, especially for elderly individuals.

Additionally, research supports that maintaining Lean Body Mass can help promote healthy weight management after weight loss. A loss of Lean Body Mass has been shown to be a risk factor for weight-regain and increased body fat, not only due to negative effects on metabolism and deficits but also because of the body’s attempt to replace lost Lean Body Mass by overeating.

So not only can exercise help to support our body composition by helping to maintain our Lean Body Mass, but the effect of Lean Body Mass itself helps to regulate our metabolism, further supporting weight management goals. Lean Body Mass, and specifically lower limb Lean Body Mass, has been shown to offer a protective effect on our weight-bearing joints, potentially lowering your risk of developing OA,

The Big Picture

Obesity has been shown to be a significant risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis, not only due to the effects of extra weight on our joints but also as a result of the associated pro-inflammatory effects of adipose tissue itself. Our hips and knees, being your weight-bearing joints, are of greatest concern.

Body composition factors including excessive adipose tissue on our midsection and legs have been shown to negatively impact our weight-bearing joints. Promoting Lean Body Mass and encouraging weight loss may potentially lower your risk of OA and improve the quality of life for those managing this condition.

Exercise is generally regarded as safe for those individuals with OA and should be a key component for those individuals looking to improve their body composition, reduce Body Fat Mass, improve Lean Body Mass and promote a healthy weight.

In addition to the many positive benefits that exercise promotes for those living with OA, exercise has a positive effect on our Lean Body Mass, supporting weight management goals by offering positive effects on metabolic regulation and helping to improve the symptoms of OA for day to day life for those who live with OA. For those with osteoarthritis, improving our body composition and utilizing exercise as a key component in weight management can have a direct and positive effect on our joint health.

Should You Give Up Alcohol To Lose Weight?

Should You Give Up Alcohol To Lose Weight?

By Shelby Stoner, MS, PHASE IV Exercise Physiologist, Nutrition Specialist

Alcohol consumption’s effect on weight loss has been a long-debated topic in the world of health and fitness. Drinking alcohol is very common in our culture for social gatherings including parties, sporting events, and pairing with meals such as dinner. After the winter holidays, we often hear people blame weight gain on excess eating and drinking which typically go hand-in-hand. The purpose of this article is to provide an understanding of how alcohol affects metabolism and the common reasons why alcohol consumption is associated with weight gain.

What is Alcohol?

Ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is the intoxicating ingredient found in wine, beer, and liquors. This is produced through the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches. People react to alcohol in different ways, due to differences in age, sex, race or ethnicity, family history, and weight to name a few. A standard drink in the United States is equal to 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol, which is roughly converted to:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof liquor

How Alcohol Affects the Metabolism

Unlike other fuel sources, alcohol can only be metabolized by the liver. When alcohol is consumed, it’s burned first as a “fuel source” before your body uses anything else, including carbohydrates and fat. Alcohol can also cross the biological membranes through diffusion (i.e. how it enters the bloodstream). Therefore, the more alcohol you consume, the greater the concentration gradient, and the more rapid is the absorption. The liver is only able to clear alcohol at a rate of around one ounce of liquor per hour, which is why consuming more than this can leave some people feeling tipsy.

How Alcohol Affects Weight Loss

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that alcohol is often referred to as “empty calories.” Similar to chips, crackers, soda or cookies, alcoholic drinks provide your metabolism with calories, but very little nutrients. As previously mentioned, when your body is using alcohol as a primary fuel source it is not breaking down other sources like fat for energy. This causes the body to store other calories like excess glucose (simple carbohydrates) as fat until it can be shuttled back through the metabolism as energy, therefore delaying weight loss efforts. In more extreme cases, alcohol can damage the liver which is the body’s primary filter for any foreign substance. This affects the way your body metabolizes and stores carbohydrates and fat, making it even more difficult to lose excess weight. Another important aspect to consider is the decisions made under the influence of alcohol – especially those related to food. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and therefore leads to poor decision making when it comes to your food choices. Not only does alcohol inhibit good decision making, but it also inhibits the proper function of the digestive system. It causes strain on the stomach and intestines which leads to decreased secretion of digestive enzymes and movement of food through the digestive tract. Alcohol intake of ALL levels can lead to impaired digestion and absorption of important nutrients and greatly affect your metabolism specific to weight management.

Alcohol has also been known to affect hormone levels, especially testosterone. Testosterone plays an important role in multiple metabolic processes, including fat burning capabilities and muscle regeneration. Studies have found that low testosterone levels can predict the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in men, which is characterized by dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, and increased BMI.

Tips for Avoiding Alcohol-Related Weight Gain

  1. Have something to eat beforehand. Drinking on an empty stomach will increase the rate of alcohol entering your bloodstream, and make you feel tipsy quicker. Having food beforehand will help your stomach absorb the alcohol more slowly and help you make better choices.
  2. Drink slowly. Just like eating quickly can lead to overeating, throwing back drinks can cause you to drink more than you intended. Instead, sip your drink slowly, and put it down in between sips.
  3. Drink water! Match each drink you have with a glass of water. Not only are you helping keep yourself hydrated, but you’d also be surprised how much less alcohol you have to drink too.
  4. Come up with a game plan. The best way to control how many calories come from alcohol is to set a drink limit for yourself and stick to it.

Common Calorie References

  • 5 ounces of red or white wine = 125 Calories
  • 12 ounces of light beer = 100 Calories
  • 5 ounces of champagne = 100 Calories
  • 1.5 ounces of vodka, whiskey, rum or gin = 96 Calories

Take Away Message

Everyone is different. Even if two people weigh the exact same, are the same sex and age and eat, drink, and exercise exactly the same amount, adding alcohol to the mix can have different outcomes. While you may not have to cut out all alcohol to lose weight, you may need to make some changes. Keep an eye on the number of drinks you consume, the type, and what goes into the drink too. Many mixed drinks include juices or simple syrups that add extra calories. The key is to self-monitor – if you’re a moderate drinker and find yourself gradually putting on weight or have a hard time taking it off, try cutting down on the alcohol and see how you feel and how your body responds.

Remember, each individual’s dietary needs are unique to the individual.

Robert Burns


Shape-Up Health Club

Why Stretch?

Why Stretch?

Stretching is good for us, and yet most of us resist stretching. Stretching is valuable and essential for delivering benefits beyond just warming up or preparing your body for exercise.

The number one reason for stretching is it keeps you young. Stretching prioritizes muscle length, while strength exercise builds muscle, aerobic exercise improves your heart lungs and vascular systems. Stretching helps improve posture and reduce joint pain. Lengthening muscles that have been shortened over time due to poor posture, immobility, injury, disease, and the pull of gravity requires proper stretch on connective tissues called fascia. Fascia is a fibrous connective tissue that wraps and supports muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, nerves. When we get injured or engage in repetitive actions that don’t have much variety in the range of motion, our body over time develops excess fascia between muscle tissue.

Fascia can wrap healthy tissue much like a spider wraps its prey on a web. This result is a limited range of motion, cross-linkages, and fascial adhesions. These adhesions restrict our movement and create unnecessary tension that is dangerous to our joints and muscles. Adhesions have the capacity of creating up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. This intense pressure compromises our youthful physiology and results in chronic pain, and joint dysfunction.

Proper stretching programs address not only the elastin fibers of connective tissue but also address fascia at deeper levels to alter the fascia substance and construction. You want to break apart the adhesions that age the connective tissue. Stretching techniques properly applied to lead to lengthier muscles, pain relief, and fascia that is younger and healthier.

Consider adding more stretch to your program. Ask or call the Front Desk, 949 760-9335 for a complimentary appointment for a head to toe Postural and Structural Analysis with Joe Dolcimascolo.

Robert Burns
Shape-Up Health Club
Water…Too Much or Too Little?

Water…Too Much or Too Little?

Learn about total body water and Intra/Extracellular water

Water is a major part of your body: they make up 79% of your muscles, 73% of your brain, and even 31% of your bones. Overall your body weight can be 45-65% water. Your body water percentage is influenced by your age, gender, and fitness level. Even though you are made up of mostly water, how much do you really know about the effect this major element has on your body?

For example, did you know your hydration status is equally as important as getting enough rest and quality food for muscle growth and improved physical performance?

Read on to learn more about body water, the effect of dehydration and overhydration, and tips to keep you in balance.

Body Water, Defined

Your body water can be found inside not only in your blood, but in your muscle tissue, your body fat, your organs, and inside every cell in your body.

The amount of water in your body depends on various factors including age, gender, physical activity, and even where you live. It’s often referred to as Total Body Water (TBW).

For example, infants are born with roughly 78% of their entire weight being water. By one year of age, TBW decreases to about 65% of the weight. In healthy adult males, TBW averages 60% of their weight because they generally carry more lean mass. On the other hand, women will see that roughly 55% of their weight is TBW.

Your TBW can be further segmented into two compartments: extracellular water (ECW) and intracellular water (ICW).

Extracellular Water (ECW)

Extracellular water is the water located outside your cells. The water in your blood falls into this category. Roughly 1/3 of your fluid is attributed to ECW, and this water is found in your interstitial fluid, transcellular fluid, and blood plasma.

Extracellular water is important because it helps control the movement of electrolytes, allows oxygen delivery to the cells, and clears waste from metabolic processes.

Intracellular Water (ICW)

Intracellular water is the water located inside your cells. It comprises 70% of the cytosol, which is a mix of water and other dissolved elements. In healthy people, it makes up the other 2/3 of the water inside your body.

The intracellular water is the location of important cellular processes, and although it has many functions, a very important one is that it allows molecules to be transported to the different organelles inside the cell. Essentially, the Intracellular water picks up where the Extracellular water left off by continuing the pathway for fuel to be transported to the cells.

Balance is the Key

When it comes to your body water and you, the most important thing to strive for is balance. Your Intracellular fluid: Extracellular fluid must remain at the same levels with respect to each other.
A healthy fluid distribution has been estimated at a 3:2 ratio of ICW: ECW. If your body water falls out of balance, this can signal changes in your health and body composition. Whether these changes are positive or negative depends on which type of water becomes unbalanced.

Positive: Increased ICW

Having slightly more ICW than normal isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can signal positive changes in your body composition.

Increased muscle mass is due to the enlargement of the number and size of muscle cells. When the muscle cells become enlarged, they are able to take in (and require) more ICW in order to power their cellular functions. Research has shown that resistance exercise can lead to increased intracellular water in humans as a result of increased Lean Body Mass.

Negative: Excess ECW

If your ECW increases in relation to your ICW, this is something you should take special note of. Unlike ICW, you do not want to see your ECW increasing beyond normal levels. Excess ECW can indicate health risks, including:


During inflammation, the body sends additional blood flow to the damaged area. This causes an increase in extracellular water in a particular area. Inflammation occurs when part of the body gets damaged or bruised and is a normal bodily response to injury. This is called acute inflammation and is a temporary increase in ECW.

Chronic inflammation, however, is something more serious that isn’t always readily detected. It is marked by long-term swelling/ECW increases caused by cellular stress and dysfunction. Chronic inflammation can lead to serious diseases if allowed to persist over time, including renal failure, cancer, and heart disease. including renal failure, cancer, and heart disease.

Obese individuals are characterized by having too much body fat, which among other things, leads to body water disruption due to excess ECW. This is because excess visceral fat can trigger production hormones that can lead to the disruption of a bodily system called RAAS . This excess ECW causes stress in the body due to its effects on the internal organs, which can exacerbate obesity and cause a dangerous cyclic effect.

Renal Disease (Kidney Failure)

One of the kidneys’ major functions is to filter your blood and remove toxins produced in the body. One important substance that the kidneys filter out is sodium, an element that is found in salt.

When your diet includes more sodium than your kidneys can filter out, which occurs in people who have failing kidneys, your extracellular water levels will increase. In some cases, this increased extracellular water shows in visible swelling throughout the body and is a condition known as edema. Edema can cause additional strain on the body by contributing to weight gain, blood pressure, and other complications.

Determining Balance

Since it’s so important to keep an eye on your fluid balance, you’ll need to know how you can determine yours. There are two major methods to measure and determine your fluid levels. These are the dilution method and the BIA method (InBody 570)

The dilution method involves drinking a known dose of heavy water (deuterium oxide) and allowing it to distribute around the body. Once the water has had time to settle, the amount of heavy water is compared with the amount of normal water. The proportion will reflect the amount of total body water. To determine ECW, sodium bromide is used instead of heavy water.

The dilution method is recognized as a gold standard for measuring total body water; however, these tests would need to be done at a hospital under the guidance of a trained physician. This test takes several hours to complete during which any fluid of any type going in or out of the body has to be carefully recorded.

For these reasons, you’re unlikely to have this test performed unless your doctor needs to know your total body water with absolute certainty because of a serious health complication.

The second, more accessible method to determine body water content is bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) . For most people who do not have serious medical issues, this method is much more practical than the dilution method.

A small electrical current is applied to the body and the opposition that current experiences (impedance), is measured. From that impedance result, a BIA device can report your body water percentage. Advanced BIA devices (like the InBody 570) are able to reflect the difference in Intracellular and Extracellular water as well, which can reveal the ICW: ECW balance.

How to Bring Your Body Water Back in Balance?

Maintaining a balanced ratio of approximately 3:2 is ideal for optimal health. If you find that this ratio is beginning to fall out of balance, there are some things you can do.

Fortunately, these tips aren’t anything you already haven’t heard before: maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated by drinking enough water, and exercising regularly. What we are going to focus on is drinking the right amount of water – that means not drinking too much or too little water.
Staying well-hydrated is not just important for survival. Your hydration status is equally as important as getting enough rest and quality food for muscle growth and improved physical performance. Moreover, meeting your daily hydration needs could be the difference between accomplishing your desired body composition goals and not seeing body composition improvements when you think you’re doing everything right.

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