I haven't been working out for the past 1-2 years and I finally decided to get a membership at the gym. I would love to lose another 3-5 kg and live my best life!

I went on the "InBody scanner" and the results were the following:

Height: 174,0 cm
Weight: 56,2 kg 
PBF: 10,6%
ECW ratio: 0,377 ( what is this even?)
Leg lean mass: 16,1 kg 

I haven't been working out at all, I look super normal not fit or anything, and then the local trainer told me to gain 8 kg of fat. What? Can it be that the test shows wrong results? I do not look like a lean body builder.

Please help me understand.

Thank you!

  • You are pretty light already. Please consider the opposite: putting on 3-5 kg of weight in muscle mass. You will not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger from that, you will not get a huge biceps, but generally, you'll be fitter, stronger and please Google some images, most like the not so extremely skinny skeleton look better. It's also a great way to prevent pain from weak muscles (e.g. in the back), preventing injuries and being a lot fitter later in life. You also get to eat more. But it's your decision at the end, I'm just telling you to challenge your goals and really be sure about them – Raditz_35 Aug 30 '20 at 13:52

The bodyfat test is likely inaccurate. All testing methods have predicted ranges of accuracy with some being wider than others, but they are often internally consistent. The only way to know for sure is autopsy and short of that you're looking at obtaining an estimation regardless of the method.

Looking at your situation in a more practical manner, at the bodyfat estimation you were given, you would have enough lean body mass to look notably athletic for a woman and you would also have little to no visible fat. Based on your description this does not seem to be the case. If we instead assume that you are actually 20% bodyfat, then your description suddenly sounds spot on to what the numbers suggest. You would be average in terms of lean body mass (more specifically muscle mass), and while your bodyfat is still fairly low for a woman it isn't too low to be abnormal.

So should you continue trying to lose another 3-5 kg? I wouldn't recommend it. Not if your goal is to look better. And while that's entirely subjective, you'll likely just end up looking like a smaller version of your current self. If that's your goal, then that's the path for you. But if you are wanting more shape and tone to your frame, then I would recommend eating enough to maintain weight while employing progressive overload in your training routine. This should elicit what is known as a body recomposition wherein you lose fat at approximately the same rate that you gain muscle (which is why weight stays the same). You still lose fat this way, but you pose much less risk to your hormones.


I don't think this can truly be answered accurately unless you provide a lot more information that you probably shouldn't post on an internet board, but I can hopefully make some comments that help interpret what's going on.

For one, 10,6% BF is really low for a woman. While it's not impossible, my guess is you're probably slightly higher than that. Body fat percentages are really, really difficult to determine. The most accurate methods are expensive and/or invasive and/or difficult to do. The cheap, easy, and less invasive methods are typically not as accurate. InBody themselves claim they're within 98% accurate to a DEXA but.... I have my doubts. Especially since only they make this claim.

Even so, 174 cm at weight: 56,2 kg is still pretty lean. The simplest answer to "Why I don't look like a bodybuilder" is you don't have a lot of lean mass. While "You make abs in the kitchen" is the common phrase. The truth is, you still need some muscle mass to have that "fit" look.

So while I don't want to over-step and say what you should do. I will say that you can consider a different approach. Rather than losing weight, maintain your current weight and build muscle in to it. If you eat at a maintenance, you can build muscle and you may change your composition to look more "fit".

Side Note: ECW stands for "ExtraCellular Water" and "ECW Ratio" means "ExtraCellular Water to Total Body Water" ratio. According to their website:

EXTRACELLULAR WATER/TOTAL BODY WATER ANALYSIS (ECW/TBW): Ratio of Extracellular Water to Total Body Water; an important indicator of body water balance. In a healthy state, your ECW/TBW ratio should fall within the range 0.360 to 0.390. A value closer to 0.360 (or below) is commonly observed in athletes and reflects more Intracellular Water, Lean Body Mass, and strong cellular nutrient retention. Conversely, a value nearing 0.390 is indicative of greater Extracellular Water, Body Fat Mass, inflammation/water retention, and dehydration. If your ECW/TBW ratio exceeds 0.400, it is recommended that you consult your physician.

So a really low number means you're really lean. Personally, I don't see how this is really useful and seems to have just been added to make it sound fancier.

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