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Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) Explained

By Daniel Roytas
from Torrens University

Do you want to know more about your body? Are you trying to gain or lose weight? Are you an athlete looking to enhance your performance? Are you trying to recover from an injury or improve your physical health? Maybe you’re a health-conscious individual who would like a way to monitor their wellbeing? A BIA scan might be able to help.

What is Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)?

Have you ever heard of bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA)? If you’ve ever walked around a gym, health clinic or personal training studio before, you may be familiar with a BIA device. They come in different shapes and sizes and have one thing in common: to provide better insight into your overall physical health and body composition. Health professionals around the world commonly use BIA because it is a non-invasive, low cost, fast and reliable approach that provides valuable insights into their client’s general health and wellbeing.

How does BIA work?

Bioelectrical impedance analysis is very similar to standing on a set of scales. In addition to measuring your weight, BIA devices can also take very precise measurements of your body tissue composition by sending a low frequency electrical current around the body. As the current travels around your body, the BIA device constantly measures the resistance of the tissue it is travelling through. For example, the current travels quicker through blood, less quickly through muscle, less quickly through fat and even less quickly again through bone. In less than one minute, the BIA device calculates the composition of your body based on the resistance of the current travelling through your tissues, and then presents this information in a comprehensive, user-friendly report.

What does BIA measure?

BIA assesses a wide range of body composition markers including weight, body mass index, basal metabolic rate, intra and extracellular water, muscle mass, fat mass, skeletal mass, biological age and a range of other useful markers. Not only does a BIA take measurements of the whole body composition, it is also able to provide measurements for specific limbs, which can be very useful, particularly for people looking to optimise their physical functionality. After all of the measurements have been taken, the BIA device sends the data wirelessly to a computer, which is then compiled into a comprehensive report.

How can BIA help me?

Undertaking a BIA is useful for a number of reasons. Firstly, BIA is a great tool for establishing baseline markers. Maybe you are looking to achieve a goal weight (ie. lose weight or put on muscle)? By taking comprehensive baseline measurements, it is easier to track your progress with subsequent BIA scans and to fine-tune your dietary and exercise regimen to optimise results.

Secondly, BIA provides an insight into the composition of your body, allowing for highly individualised dietary and lifestyle recommendations. For example, the BIA can provide insight as to how much fat tissue you have, where it’s distributed throughout your body and whether or not it may be posing a risk to your health.

Thirdly, BIA can be useful in identifying a potential issue before it becomes a problem. If you were to get a BIA every 3-4 months, changes in body composition can be closely monitored. For example, your fat mass might be slowly increasing and your muscle mass might be decreasing over time (which is a risk factor for a number of chronic diseases). A BIA can identify these changes before they become a problem, allowing for fine-tuning of dietary habits and lifestyle practices.

Who can benefit from BIA?

Bioelectrical impedance analysis is a great way to keep track of your general health and wellbeing, and is suitable for a wide range of people including:

  • Anyone wanting to track weight loss or weight gain
  • Athletes looking to optimise their body composition and performance
  • Health-conscious people interested in learning more about their body
  • Older people looking to prevent musculoskeletal problems
  • Anyone wanting to monitor changes in body composition undertaking a particular diet
  • People recovering from an illness or injury

It’s important to note that BIA is not suitable for pregnant women and individuals with electrical implantable devices.

How do I get a BIA analysis done?

All of The Practice Wellbeing Centres around the country (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) use state-of-the-art BIA devices. Book in for a BIA consultation today with one of our student practitioners. Consultations take approximately 20 minutes, which includes a short health assessment, bioelectrical impedance analysis and a BIA report which will be interpreted by the student clinician.

More about the author

Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) Explained
Daniel Roytas
– Torrens University

Daniel Roytas – Senior Learning Facilitator (Clinical Nutrition) at Torrens University

Mr. Daniel Roytas is a Naturopath, Nutritionist and Remedial Massage Therapist with over 10 years clinical and educational experience. He is the Senior Learning Facilitator of Nutritional Medicine at Torrens University and regularly presents for a number of professional associations. He is a published author, public speaker and passionate about educating and empowering clinicians, so that they can achieve optimal health outcomes for their patients.