What's the Difference Between Body Weight and Body Composition

DDo you wonder what the numbers that you see from the weighing scale mean? If you're trying to lose weight, you probably just check on your weight every day. Although you don't even think what exactly those numbers correspond to. Your body composition has something to do with those numbers. 

It may not occur to you before but knowing about your body weight and body composition is important. That's because knowing them will help you to create and achieve your goal. Knowing where you currently stand will provide you the information you need to have. Then, you will know what to do.

Your Body Weight vs. Body Composition

Now that you have the reason to care about your body weight versus body composition, it's time to learn more about them. You can find more information about the difference between your body weight and your body composition. That way, you will know what you should workout with to lose weight more efficiently.

What's the Difference?

Bodyweight and body composition should not be confused with your body mass index. The body mass index is your body weight divided by your height. While your body weight is your body's total mass. Your body composition is the weight made up of your muscles, bones, water, and fats. 

What Is Body Composition?

The body composition is described as the total percentage of fat, bone, water, and muscle. The reason for this is because the muscular tissues take up less space in your body. While your fat tissue, body composition, and weight can occupy more space. When you go on a diet and exercise regularly, your body composition will be better.

How to Measure Body Composition

When you undergo a body composition analysis, it will make you understand your body weight better. That will provide you a deeper understanding of your body fat percentage. That also includes bone density and lean muscle mass. If you want to improve your body composition, that means that you want to lose body fat and increase your lean body mass. 

    1. Bioelectrical Impedance

    Also known as BIA, Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis uses a low electrical current. It will travel through your body so that it can estimate your fat-free mass. Electricity can only travel through water and everybody's tissue contains water.

     Therefore, it can flow on every type of tissue. The muscle holds more water than fat, the flow of current will be less interrupted, so it will be low impedance. If the current is more interrupted, that means that you have more body fat.

    2. Skinfold Measurements

    It's one of the oldest and basic ways to measure your body fats. But it has a very simple approach which makes it inaccurate. The skinfold measurements will use skinfold calipers and pinch different areas of the body. It can be applied to the chest, abdomen, or thigh.

    It will be done from a 3 point measurement or 7 point measurement. This test may expand to other parts of the body. It can be done on the triceps, below your armpit, shoulder blade, or on the hips. The measurements will be combined with your age and gender. It uses a specific formula to get the percentage of body fats.

    3. DEXA Scan

    It's also known as DXA scan and it's the most accurate method to gauge your total body fat. The DEXA scan is an advanced method of body composition analysis. Using x-ray technology, it will scan your body. Then it will provide a detailed assessment.

    This includes how much muscle mass and fat mass a person has. It also tells you exactly where the fat and muscle on your body are stored. If one of your arms has more than 0.5 pounds than your other arm, this can identify it. This will also scan and differentiate your subcutaneous and visceral fat.

    4. Hydrostatic Weighing

    Hydrostatic weighing is also called underwater weighing. It's a form of densitometry where it uses your body weight in both land and water. Then, it will estimate your body composition. It's based on Archimedes' principle of the buoyant force.

    Muscle weighs less than fat but it's denser and only takes less volume in every pound. In simple terms, the muscle will sink while the fat will float. So, if you have more muscle mass, you will weigh more underwater. If you have more body fat than muscle, you will weigh less.

    What Is a Healthy Body Composition?

    Healthy body composition should have an appropriate amount of body fat. It also means having lean muscle mass, as well as bone health. Body composition will affect every aspect of your physical fitness. That's why it's important to have a healthy body composition. While having excessive body fat is linked to different types of illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

    What Affects Your Body Composition?

    Your body composition is affected by your gender, age, race, nutrition, hormonal status, and physical activity. Therefore, it varies, and having an illness can also significantly affect it. Losing weight fast can also affect your body composition and results in a decrease in bone density. It's important to gradually lose weight to make sure that you will have a healthy body composition.

    What are the Benefits of Body Composition?

    This can affect your overall health which means that you can also benefit from it. Below is the list of benefits that you can have if you have a healthy body composition.

    • Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
    • Avoid hypertension and heart disease.
    • Increased functional ability.
    • Have a better calorie-burning metabolism.
    • Leaner and toned body.
    • Succeed in losing weight permanently.

    Should You Change Your Body Composition?

    You should change your body composition if you have more fat percentage than your muscle tone. Having a healthy body composition will make you healthy and avoid the development of illnesses. Losing weight will also be more effective based on your body composition.

    How Do You Track Your Progress with Body Composition Outputs?

    Tracking your progress when it comes to your body composition outputs will help you determine if you have already reached healthy levels. Knowing about them will help you to monitor how far you have improved. Healthy body composition should have a low proportion of body fat and a higher proportion of fat-free mass. 

    • Percent Body Fat (PBF)

      The average percent of body fats varies with gender, age, and other factors. For athletes, it's between 14-20% for women and 6-13% for men. If you're an average person, it should be 21-24% for women and 14-17% for men. The acceptable percent body fat for women is 25-31% while it's 18-24% in men.
    • Skeletal Muscle Mass (SMM)

      When it comes to skeletal muscle mass, it should also include smooth muscles. Below are the average SMM depending on age and gender.

    a. Ages 20-39

    75-89% for men and from 63 to 75.5% for women.

    b. Ages 40-59

    73-86% for men and from 62 to 73.5% for women.

    c. Ages 60-79

    70-84% for men and from 60 to 72.5% for women.

    • Body Water

      Normally, adult women's body water should vary between 45% to 60%. For men, their body water percentage should be between 50% to 65%. It's higher for babies but the normal must be between 75% to 78%. It should drop at 65% by one year of their age.


    1. What About BMI?

    The body mass index or BMI is a value that comes from the mass and height of the person. It's defined as your body mass divided by the square of your height. It results from mass in kilograms and meters in height. The average BMI for adults is between 18.5% and 24.9%.

    2. How can BMI be inaccurate and misleading?

    BMI has a big flaw which makes it inaccurate and misleading. That flaw is that the person's body fat versus muscle content is not taken into account. Muscle weight should weigh more than fat since it's denser. A cubic inch of muscle is heavier than a cubic inch of fat.

    3. How much body fat is healthy?

    For men, 2-4% of fat is considered healthy. But if it's more than 25%, it's already considered obese. For women, the healthy percentage of body fat is 10-13%. Although if it's more than 32%, it's already a sign of obesity. Gender plays a big role when it comes to body fat.

    4. Does skinny always equals healthy?

    Skinny doesn't always mean it's healthy according to experts. You should focus more on your BMI or body mass index. It will also depend on your height. If you're trying to lose weight, aim for a healthy weight. It should be according to your height, gender, age, and other factors that are more important than looking skinny.


    Your body weight and body composition are different. Although it's so much easier to get your body weight, knowing about your body composition is more important. This is due to its importance in your health. Once you have a healthy body composition, it will be easier for you to trim down and achieve a healthy weight. 

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