Two, three and four compartment (2C, 3C and 4C) models of body composition are popular methods to measure fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM) in athletes. However, the impact of food and fluid intake on measurement error has not been established. The purpose of this study was to evaluate standardised (overnight fasted, rested and hydrated) v. non-standardised (afternoon and non-fasted) presentation on technical and biological error on surface anthropometry (SA), 2C, 3C and 4C models. In thirty-two athletic males, measures of SA, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), bioelectrical impedance spectroscopy (BIS) and air displacement plethysmography (BOD POD) were taken to establish 2C, 3C and 4C models. Tests were conducted after an overnight fast (duplicate), about 7 h later after ad libitum food and fluid intake, and repeated 24 h later before and after ingestion of a specified meal. Magnitudes of changes in the mean and typical errors of measurement were determined. Mean change scores for non-standardised presentation and post meal tests for FM were substantially large in BIS, SA, 3C and 4C models. For FFM, mean change scores for non-standardised conditions produced large changes for BIS, 3C and 4C models, small for DXA, trivial for BOD POD and SA. Models that included a total body water (TBW) value from BIS (3C and 4C) were more sensitive to TBW changes in non-standardised conditions than 2C models. Biological error is minimised in all models with standardised presentation but DXA and BOD POD are acceptable if acute food and fluid intake remains below 500 g.
British Journal of Nutrition / Vol. 117, No. 4, pp.591-601