Biosignature is a technique developed by renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin. In a nutshell, it involves measuring skinfold thickness and the ratios between different sites are indicative of the individual’s hormonal status.
As an example, if you have too much stress in your life (of any form), then your cortisol levels will be abnormally high. This will lead to fat storage primarily in the abdominal region. Other sites can assess testosterone, estrogen, thyroid function, insulin levels, and growth hormone status.
By looking at the ratios, we can make changes in the diet, correct vitamin and mineral deficiencies, or recommend additional medical tests. This can improve health, and either accelerate fat loss or muscle gain, depending on your goals.
For those chasing optimal athletic performance, this is a powerful tool to monitor and accelerate recovery!
Here is a profile with one of our sport athletes, Jenny.
|Biosignature Before||Biosignature After||Percent Change|
|Bodyweight||151 lbs||148 lbs||3 lbs|
|Fat Mass||34.7 lbs||26 lbs||12 lbs, 34.5% decrease|
|Lean Mass||116 lbs||122 lbs||6 lbs, 5% increase|
|Chin (skin fold)||12.9 mm||9.2 mm||3.7 mm, 28.7% decrease|
|Cheek||11.5 mm||10.2 mm||1.3 mm, 11.3% decrease|
|Pectoris||14.1 mm||8 mm||6.1 mm, 43.3 % decrease|
|Triceps||16 mm||15.1 mm||.9 mm, 5.6% decrease|
|Subscap||20 mm||16.8 mm||3.2 mm, 16% decrease|
|Midaxillary||10.7 mm||8.1 mm||2.6 mm, 24.3% decrease|
|Supra-iliac||26.6 mm||18 mm||8.6 mm, 32.3% decrease|
|Umbilicus||22.3 mm||13 mm||9.3 mm, 41.7% decrease|
|Knee||5.6 mm||5.8 mm||.2 mm, 3.6% increase|
|Calf||16.1 mm||13.8 mm||2.3 mm, 14.3% decrease|
|Quadriceps||18.6 mm||18 mm||.6 mm, 3.2% decrease|
|Gluteal Fold||32.2 mm||20.2 mm||12 mm, 37.3% decrease|
Jenny saw a reduction in body fat at all but one site that we measured. However, what is most important is where the majority of the fat was lost. Both the subscapular (shoulder blade area) and supra-iliac (love handle) sites decreased by 16% and 32.3% respectively. This reflects much lower insulin levels. By looking at Jenny’s food log, you can see that she followed a low carbohydrate Paleo diet, thereby keeping her blood sugar, and therefore insulin levels, very stable. Much of the training that she did in the gym was strength work, which research has shown to promote insulin sensitivity. By improving insulin sensitivity, and by reducing the glycemic load of the diet (carbohydrates), Jenny has significantly reduced her risk factors for many of the diseases of civilization, such as heart disease.
Very significant changes occurred in both the pectoral skinfolds (chest) and hamstring sites (butt & hips). These sites dropped 43.3% and 37.3% respectively. This primarily reflects a much better ability to detoxify estrogen metabolites. This is a result of the lowered insulin levels as noted above, but also from reduction of estrogen dominance due to the CrossFit metabolic conditioning work. As you can see, with the proper diet and exercise programming protocols, one can achieve site specific fat loss goals.
Jenny’s natural growth hormone output was also increased by the metabolic circuits, as reflected in a 14% decrease in fat on the lower leg. She also saw a large drop in belly fat (41.7%). This site reflects long term exposure to cortisol, the hormone produced during stress. The changes in the diet likely removed some foods which she was sensitive, or allergic to. These foods would cause an increase in cortisol production as the body mounts a defense against the offending food. Grains and dairy are foods that many are unknowingly sensitive to. Numerous other factors are at work here – too many to go into now, but suffice it to say that less exposure to stress hormones is a good thing!