Knowledge of your body’s specific fat distribution can tip you off to potentially serious health challenges in your future. The best way to illustrate this point is to examine two common body shapes found on the street today: the “apple” and the “pear.”
The next important marker measured by DXA is Gynoid fat:
There is also a third type of body shape, the Ovoid. Here there is no differentiation between men and women, with fat storage promoting an ‘egg shape’—the ovoid shape means general fat coverage.
Too much fat anywhere is not good, so knowing your body’s distribution is critical to monitoring your health risks and avoiding disease later in life. A DXA scan will directly measure the different types of fat stored in every region of your body, including yoursubcutaneous fat (the fat under the skin), your visceral fat (fat around your organs — i.e. android fat), and it also takes into account your ‘essential fat‘ (i.e. fat that is necessary for normal bodily functioning, including hormonal production, secretion, transport, and reproduction). Fat stored in the body (other than the essential fat) needs to be monitored, so action can be taken to limit or lose it and reduce your risk for disease.
Determining the ratio of android to gynoid fat (the A/G ratio)—and monitoring that ratio (you want it below 1.0)—is critical because it’s directly correlated to the prevalence of visceral fat, which is a result of organs insulating themselves from toxins by encapsulating the toxins in fat. This survival strategy may impede organ function and increase the risk for disease. Ideally, your android fat will always be lower than your gynoid fat.
A DXA scan eliminates this chance for error by directly measuring your android and gynoid fat percentages and displaying the A/G ratio on your report. This way, it’s easy for you and your doctor to evaluate your risk for health problems associated with a high A/G ratio.The factors that influence fat distribution are partially controllable by you, and even the genetic factors can be mitigated to some extent. It’s important to remember that fat distribution is influenced by hormones; genetics; race; presence of toxins; physical activity (type and amount); malnutrition; and stress. Of these, you have complete control over the last four—toxins, physical activity, nutrition and stress management.
The problem of body transformations in particular is not merely deciding what to eat and how to workout; it’s rather a problem of how to secure the best use of information—both objective and subjective—that provides a framework of knowledge you can use to provide honest and outcome-based feedback while following a plan. Time is the scarcest of all resources; don’t waste it by failing to assess if your program actually delivers the results you want or by neglecting to learn your risks for disease.
Objective measurements from a DXA scan—like the A/G ratio—give you valuable information for honest and outcome-based feedback. They help you find out where you store fat and determine your health risks, so you can use the information—along with other markers—to tailor a training and nutrition program that’s appropriate for your body type, physiology, and goals.