Body Composition Test with DXA Scan and Goals

I went to the Body Composition Center in Redwood City, CA this week to get a DXA scan (formerly known as DEXA).  This is a low-dose x-ray that can determine body mass.   Here’s what the results looked like:


I had an evaluation using a different tool (the BodPod) in January 2011 which put me at 235lbs, 35% body fat, and 153lbs of lean body mass.

This week I was 218lbs, 27% body fat, and 158lbs of lean body mass.   If these two evaluations can be accurately compared then I gained about 5 lbs of muscle and lost 20 lbs of fat.  I am sure I lost more fat since I gained a good amount of weight after the 2011 scan was taken.

The DXA scan also gave me a bone density score (good) and a visceral fat score (also fine).

How is this useful information?  It allows me to form clearer goals.  For the sake of simplicity I’m assuming  lean body does not change much during cutting.

Let me start with some extreme goals:

  1. 10% body fat at 175lbs – an end goal for the dieting I’ve been doing for the past 15 years
  2. 20% body fat at 213lbs – a likely impossible bulk to 171lbs of lean body mass, an idea of my natural maximum
  3. 10% body fat at 190lbs – again a cut back to 10%

I don’t always buy into calories-in calories-out hypothesis but it’s one way to set a goal.  The generic Harris-Benedict BMR formula gives me that 2500 calories/day number.  The more specific Katch-McArdle formula using lean body mass gives 2300 calories/day.

Let’s say I have a daily caloric need of 2300 cals and I can restrict myself to 1800 cals per day, that’s 1 pound a week.

So smaller, pretty realistic goals from 218 can be

  1. 8 weeks to 210 [3 weeks to 213 for this current DietBet that I’m participating in]
  2. 10 weeks to 200
  3. 10 weeks to 190
  4. 10 weeks to 180
  5. 5 weeks to 175

11 months to 10%.

For some context, the current dietbet takes me to 213 so if I can achieve that then 210 should be possible even with some stumbles.

Of course I’ve set goals like this before only to watch the near opposite happen.

  1. 8 weeks to 230
  2. 10 weeks to 240
  3. 10 weeks to 250
  4. 10 weeks to 260

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4 responses to “Body Composition Test with DXA Scan and Goals”

  1. bjjcaveman says :

    Great post! I would love to see your numeric break down too… Did you notice any asymmetries in muscle mass?

    Also out of curiosity, did you happen to keep a copy of the bodpod report?

    How have your goals been so far?

    • RecompHacks says :

      I will post the Bodpod report if I can find it but so far have not been able to. It was very similar minus the breakout by region and image.

      Asymmetries from DXA scan:
      Right arm is 2% bigger, left leg is 1% bigger, left trunk is 1.5% bigger.
      Total left side is 1.5% bigger than right side.

      What do you want to know from the asymmetry? In 4 Hour Body Tim Ferris talks about equalizing strength on each side of the body as an important prehab technique – Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen. I played with some of his techniques but just haven’t had the time to pursue it.

      Goals: Weight loss stalled out after some scary hormone test results described in other posts. Chasing after full ketosis was wearing me down as well, was having a lot of trouble hitting both MMA practices and weight lifting sessions. I’m going to take a few weeks at ~150g carbs and see if I can make progress before trying ketosis again.

  2. bjjcaveman says :

    Out of curiosity.. are you right side dominant or left dominant?

    I’m actually planning to have an FMS evaluation soon!

    Looks like we read the same stuff!

    In terms of ketosis and hitting the wall, have you checked out Rob Wolf’s recent posts?

    How have you been tracking your ketones?

    I haven’t found that I’ve hit a wall yet i my training while in nutritional ketosis… but then again I’m not sure I’d recognize it if I did.

    • RecompHacks says :

      Right side dominant. I did not track ketones. Will try to post a low-carb thoughts recap post. Initially I didn’t understand Robb’s point about not being able to handle BJJ in ketosis, but after a few weeks it started to wear on me.

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