Body Composition analysis done by bio-electrical impedance assessment (BIA) is the clinical assessment of tissue and fluid compartments in the human body.  Simply explained, BIA measures the impedance or resistance of an electrical current as it travels through the water that is found in muscle and fat.  A normal distribution of tissue and fluid in the body is associated with high immunological function and longevity.  BIA is most useful in combination with dieting and exercise as it illustrates the conversion of fat body mass to lean body mass.  Other uses of BIA are:

  • Measuring extracellular water versus intra-cellular water to tracking your detoxification and weight loss progress

What we are assessing:

  • Your Body Composition (i.e. fat mass vs. lean muscle mass) and tracking progress over time;
  • Your Basal Metabolic Rate to determine your ideal caloric intake;
  • Your Fluid Balance  (intracellular vs. extracellular water), to determine electrolyte balance and water absorption, as well as how well you are detoxifying; and
  • Your Cellular Health (Cellular Health Analysis)

How to Prepare for your BIA Testing Session

Things to Avoid Before Your Test:

  • No exercise 4h prior.
  • No sauna exposure within 8h before.
  • No alcohol intake for 24h prior.
  • Drink 2-4 glasses of water within 2h before testing.
  • No metal should be worn on the side the test is done (most commonly the right side of the body)

What to Expect During the Testing Procedure:

Your height, weight and age will be recorded

  • additionally for women:  where you are in your menstrual cycle

You will remove your sock and shoe on the side to be tested (often the right)

  • Repeat testing should be done on the same side

You will lie down face-up, on a treatment table with your arms 30 degrees from your body and your legs resting apart (not touching)

Your skin on your hand and foot will be cleaned with alcohol before pads are attached.

Electrodes will be attached to the hand and foot pads and you will lie still while an unfelt electrical current passes through your body.

The resistance and reactance measured on the device will then be put into a computer program, along with your name, age, gender, height and weight, which will then determine your body composition.

What we are assessing:

  • Body Composition (i.e. fat mass vs. lean muscle mass)
  • Fluid Balance  (intracellular vs. extracellular water)
  • Cellular Health (Cellular Health Analysis)


BIA technology used to determine Body Composition is not a diagnostic tool and does not replace the educated judgment of a health care professional.  Due to inter-machine variability, BIA testing is designed to show change over time using the same machine, rather than as a stand-alone assessment.  It is not recommended to compare results between two different machines.

Understanding your Body Composition Results! (Elements of the BIA Report):

Phase Angle:  Phase angle is an indicator of cellular health and integrity.  Research on humans has shown that the relationship between phase angle and cellular health is increasing and nearly linear.  A low phase angle is consistent with an inability of cells to store energy and an indication of breakdown in the selective permeability of cellular membranes.  Cell membranes have a high lipid content therefore this reading gives an indication of your cell lipid status.  A high phase angle is consistent with large quantities of intact, healthy cell membranes and body cell mass. Phase angles for adults range from 3 – 10 degrees, with normal values of 6 to 8 degrees.  A phase angle of 5’ or lower can indicate a serious energy deficiency.  A phase angle higher than 8′ is excellent.

Fat-Free Mass:  Fat-free mass, also referred to as lean body mass, is the total amount of nonfat (lean) parts of the body. It consists of approximately 73% water, 20% protein, 6% mineral, and 1% ash. Lean body mass contains virtually all the body’s water, all the metabolically active tissues and bone, and is the source of all metabolic caloric expenditure.  Lean body mass is further divided into body cell mass (BCM) and extracellular mass (ECM).

Fat Mass:  Fat mass is all the extractable lipids from adipose and other tissue in the body.  It is the total amount of stored lipids (fats) in the body and consists of subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.  Subcutaneous fat is located directly beneath the skin and serves as an energy reserve and as insulation against outside cold.  Visceral fat is located deeper within the body and serves as an energy reserve and as a cushion between organs.  Everyone needs a certain amount of fat in their body.  The ideal fat % is dependent on age and gender.  The basal metabolic rate is determined by lean body mass since only lean body mass metabolizes.  The greater the

individual’s lean body mass, the greater the rate of caloric expenditure.  One of the main benefits of exercise is the maintenance of lean body mass.  Dieting alone may cause a reduction in lean body mass and can actually reduce the body’s ability to burn calories.  The main principle of weight management is to maintain or increase lean body mass.  Since this is not always possible during weight loss, the goal is to minimize reduction of lean body mass.  A typical person will experience a loss of 0.45 pounds of lean body mass and 0.55 pounds of fat mass for each pound of weight loss while dieting without exercise.

Body Mass Index (BMI):  This is a measure of a person’s weight relative to their height.  Please be aware this classification has limitations, as it does not take frame size into account.

Total Body Water:  Water is contained in lean body mass.  Total body water consists of two compartments – intracellular water (ICW) and extracellular water (ECW).  It is the amount of water contained in the body and is a measure for evaluating basic hydration status.

Intracellular Water (ICW):  This is a measure of the amount of water contained within the cell. Healthy cells maintain their integrity and hold their fluid inside the cell membrane.  Water is needed inside the cell to hold in water-soluble nutrients such as vitamins B and C.  The optimum amount of water that should be inside the cell differs according to gender and age.  As a general rule, 60% of your water should be inside the cell.  This is the number of calories consumed and metabolized at a normal resting state over a 24 hour period.  For a typical person, BMR accounts for more than 90% of their total daily expenditure – more than 90% of calories are burned while the person is at rest.

Extracellular Water (ECW):  This is a measure of the amount of water outside the cells.  This water stores some nutrients and also helps to remove waste from inside the cell.  As a general rule, 40% of your water should be outside the cell.  A low ICW reading may be due to many things including dehydration, nutritional imbalance, hormonal imbalance or toxicity.  Talk with a wellness consultant to determine if a naturopathic, nutritional or traditional Chinese medicine consultation would be suitable for you.

Total Body Water/Lean Body Mass:  This is the percentage of lean body mass that is water. Normally about 73% of fat-free mass is water.

TBW/Total Weight:  This is the percentage of total weight that is water.  In females, this should be approximately 55% and in males, 60%.  A progressive increase in lean body mass, body cell mass, and phase angle are associated with increasing physical performance. With the use of the BIA to monitor key indicators of health and fitness, Empower Health Clinic can develop, monitor and manage diet, nutrition and exercise programs that lead to improved overall physical condition. The use of BIA to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment strategies for various health conditions is widespread.  BIA is used in many studies and clinical trials around the world.