dexa scans and kim lying beside them at body comp imaging

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When it comes to getting fit, as the saying goes, “What gets measured, gets managed.” So if you want to manage to burn that fat covering your six pack, you better measure it. And a scale won’t cut it—mostly because it doesn’t differentiate between muscle and fat. In fact, I’ve got a new saying for you: “If you’re on a scale, you’re gonna fail.”

But if scales are use-less, what is use-full?

A DEXA scan.

What’s A DEXA Scan?

A DEXA scan an x-ray-like scan of your body that accurately measures how much of your body weight is made up of fat, muscle, and bone. Not only that, but it breaks this data down by body part so you can get into the real nitty gritty of finding what to work on to and tracking progress.

To give you a better look at what DEXA scans are all about, here’s a literal inside look at Kim and me (i.e. our DEXA scan results from this week.)

Note: This video’s at 8x speed. Being in the DEXA scanner isn’t exhilarating, but the results can be!

Measure Up!

After a summer of throwing rocks, underwater training, fasting, and more, Kim and I were curious to know if it was actually having a physical effect on our bodies. It was time to pay a visit to Peter from Bodycomp Imaging and get our Dexa Scans.

We’d gone in a couple years ago and were curious to see what had changed. In particular, Kim had been complaining I was “wasting away” ever since I started eating only one meal a day. And, as for herself, she was worried she was getting fat because the dastardly scale was telling her she’d gained about eight pounds.

The DEXA scans would put those doubts to rest.

Kim’s DEXA Scan

Kim's ready for her DEXA scan

Heavier = Fatter or Fitter?

Kim was relieved to discover that most of her weight gain was lean muscle, not fat. Her overall body fat percentage was only very slightly higher than before (from 22.9% to 23.3%, which is in the lower 2% of her age group). Nothing to worry about at all.

Kim's Dexa scan weight change summary

Some Bones to Pick

The only slight concern (and it’s very slight) came from Kim’s bone density. While it had increased since her last scan thanks to incorporating weight training into her routine, it was still low enough to possibly put her higher risk of fractures as she aged.

Kim DEXA Scan Bone mass

Kim’s Next Steps

Based on her DEXA scan results, Kim set two goals.

  1. Tone her legs. While her body fat levels are very healthy, her legs are disproportionally the fattest part of her body. She hopes to improve on that by adding more plyometric leg exercises to her routine.
  2. Continue to improve bone density. By continuing to do weight bearing exercises, her bone density will continue to rise. Also, helping her cause will be a whole lot of sunshine-derived vitamin D from our upcoming three week trip to Kenya and indefinite move to South America.
Kim DEXA Scan body fat

Click here to see Kim’s complete DEXA scan results

Chris’ DEXA Scan

Chris reviewing the DEXA scan with Peter

No Sugar and No Breakfast or Lunch = No Muscle?

At the time of my last DEXA scan, I was fiendishly eating many meals and snacks a day and had a huge sweet tooth. Since then, I had cut down significantly, mostly eating only once a day and only letting my sweet tooth out of its cage once a week. What effects did these changes have on my body?

Not much.

The biggest change was that I’d lost 3.3 pounds of lean mass in my stomach. This, Peter and I suspected, is not muscle loss but simply less stuff in my stomach—less food in my stomach and less energy in my liver (in the form of glycogen), which the DEXA scan counts as lean mass.

On the bright side, my belly fat (which was already low in the first place) did go down 10%.

Chris Dexa scan fat and muscle results

An Infrequently Big (Enough?) Eater

Even Peter seemed surprised that I hadn’t lost more muscle from eating only once per day. Based on the DEXA scan results and my active lifestyle, I’d have to eat over 3,000 calories a day to maintain my muscle mass. That’s a lot of calories to devour in one meal!

Chris DEXA scan calorie requirements

Chris’ Next Steps

  1. Measure my meals. I’m curious to see if I truly am eating 3,000+ calories in my daily meal and whether I’m getting the right balance of macronutrients. While my one-meal-a-day routine hasn’t affected my body composition, maybe I can identify potential macronutrient changes I can make that might help me get stronger instead of simply stay the same.
  2. Strengthen my left leg. Due to a slight left knee injury I suffered over a year ago, my right leg has become disproportionally bigger than my left. I’m going to consciously work towards correcting that.

Click here to see Chris’ complete DEXA scan results

What Might Your DEXA Scan Reveal?

No matter what your fitness level or goals may be, consider getting a DEXA scan. From our experience, seeing the data has been an awesome way to identify specific focus areas and motive us to improve on them.

This is especially true if you’re planning a life change—be it a different diet, fitness routine, or environment. Get a DEXA scan before and after to measure the true impact.

Meanwhile, get rid of that useless scale of yours.

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Where to Get a DEXA Scan in Vancouver

If you’re in the Vancouver area, we can’t recommend Bodycomp Imaging more highly. Peter, the owner, is a super energetic, friendly, and knowledgable guy. Not only will you get your scan, but he’ll dive into the data with you and give you a in-depth consultation on what steps to take to achieve your goals. He’s very popular, with a two-week wait list, so book early.

Can’t wait two weeks? Peter has opened up a location in White Rock and is offering a $20 discount to baseline and follow-up whole body scans, as well as bone mineral density assessment of the hip and spine. Use this link to receive the promotion and let us know how it goes!

Find the DEXA Scanner Nearest You

If you don’t live in Vancouver, find the DEXA scanner nearest us at the appropriately-titled

The DEXA scanner is ready!

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DEXA scan Pinterest pin


  1. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for this post. For the relatively low price of this Dexa scan, and the sheer amount of my friends in Vancouver who are either personal trainers, or involved in fitness or weight loss, I only recently found out that even a Dexa exists. There seems to be no reason that myself and my friends might be forking over thousands of dollars for personal trainers, gym memberships, weight-loss cleanse products….and haven’t even bothered to consider anyway of measuring if we are actually dropping fat (not weight) or adding muscle. Which leads me to believe that the weight-loss products are not actually decreasing fat, but mostly only kg’s of weight in the form of water, glycogen, muscle…and not “burning fat”…. it seems with getting scans like this – there’s no place to hide… either fat% is decreasing or not.. and no room for diet BS that says you can burn kg’s of fat in a matter of a few weeks…

    1. Totally agreed, Mike. Weight loss (or gain) is a flawed measure that can be demotivating and counterproductive to focus on. But the thing is people, brands, and trainers want quick and easy “results,” so they rather spend more money to get short-term and typically unsustained progress instead of facing the facts with a DEXA. The guys who own DEXA labs could really use some better marketing since it’s a tool way more people should be, and would want to be, using if only they knew about it.

  2. Hey Chris,

    I was wondering if maybe you know if the amount of calories that you are burning according to the Dexa Scan include your workouts or without them?

    1. Hey Miriam. According to my DEXA scan my resting metabolic rate is 1996 calories. That’s without including any exercise at all. It then estimates my caloric needs based on various activity levels: Sedentary, Light, Moderate, Very, and Extreme. You can see the screenshot of this under the “An Infrequently Big (Enough?) Eater” section.

  3. This is awesome, thanks for doing it. I wish there was one near me. My weight is plateaued and I am not sure if I am slowly adding muscle and just making no progress. I would also love to have a baseline for future reference.

    I noticed you did them two years apart. Can you do them more frequently, or is that not safe? About how much is it?

    1. Hey Georgina! That really is too bad that there’s no DEXA scan near you. Maybe a business opportunity to open your own? Haha. That way you could give your scans all the time, which leads me to one of your questions. According to Peter, who runs the shop in Vancouver, the scans aren’t dangerous at all. He’s given himself 10 in a row just to test the thing for consistency! You don’t need to do it too often, of course, especially given the expense (it can be anywhere from $50 to $150 depending on where you do it and how many scans you sign up for). Peter recommends once every six months or so if you’re actively pushing to make gains. More than that and it can be de-motivating.

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