A Comprehensive Method of Assessing Body Composition Using Kinanthropometry in Human Performance Training


Wentz LM, Webb PS, Burks K 22(2). 37 - 41 (Journal Article)

Nutrition is an essential component of Human Performance Optimization in Special Operations Forces (SOF) to enhance physical and mental performance, unit readiness, and mission success. Body composition is frequently used to monitor individual nutrition progress; however, using body fat percentage is limited both by the accuracy of the assessment method and its association with SOF relevant performance outcomes. Lower body fat and/or body mass index have generally, but not universally, been correlated with higher levels of physical performance, yet they poorly predict performance in military relevant tasks. As a complement to body fat, many performance dietitians in the SOF Human Performance Programs utilize the International Society for Advanced Kinanthropometry (ISAK) profile to assess body composition, proportionality, ratio of muscle to bone, and somatotype in combat Operators. Kinanthropometry is the study of human size, shape, proportion, composition, maturation, and gross function, and it is a helpful tool for monitoring nutrition and training progress in athletes and active individuals. The ISAK profile has been well established as an international method for talent identification, distinguishing characteristics between athletes across and within elite sports, and identifying predictors of sport performance that can be applied in the military setting. While some SOF dietitians are utilizing the ISAK profile, the challenge lies in translating sport data to military relevant outcomes. We present a series of four case studies demonstrating the utility of this method as a portable comprehensive assessment for cross-sectional and longitudinal body composition tracking in a military setting.

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