Body fat testing

If you guys remember from my previous post on body fat testing, I basically talked about how inaccurate standard bathroom scales are when it comes to calculating body fat %.

I shelled out more than $250 for my bathroom scale as well, so it’s not like it’s a “cheap” one either.

As I said in my last post, if you’re thinking of getting one of those scales – don’t bother. They’re pretty much useless.

After getting my first scan done, I was already sold on the benefits of doing this kind of scan and have been telling everyone about it. However, after today’s second scan I’m even more sold on it and will be promoting it to everyone I know.

If you’re even dreaming about doing any kind of weight loss or exercise plan, do yourself a huge favor and get one of these scans done before you start so you can accurately track your progress.

My Body Fat Testing Results

Firstly, I’ll mention that when I got our scans done on Nov 3rd, we were already 16 days into the weight loss competition so I had already lost about 10lbs by that time. So really our “before” scans are not true “before” scans since they aren’t taking into account the first 10lbs of weight loss.

Either way, the scan does accurately represent what happened in the last 40 days which is just under 6 weeks.

Here are my results:

The great news is that between the two scans I’ve been able to accomplish something that isn’t very easy to do. I successfully cut fat and gained muscle mass at the same time.

My total weight loss was 4.3 lbs but I actually lost 5.6 lbs of fat during that period of time.

At the same time, while cutting more than 5.6 lbs of fat off my body, I also gained 1.5lbs of muscle mass.

I don’t care who you are, cutting fat and building muscle at the same time is not easy. Losing weight is not that hard, but doing it in a way where you don’t lose half of it in muscle mass is the tough part.

I don’t remember exact numbers off the top of my head, but I think he actually lost a little bit more weight than me, but what the scan revealed is that he lost fat and muscle at the same time. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I think it was about 40-50% of the weight loss for him came from lean muscle mass.

So even though I think he lost a little bit more weight, he actually didn’t lose nearly as much fat as I did (less than half the 5.6 lbs I lost), and he also simultaneously ended up losing some lean muscle tissue which is not good.

What happened to himis not uncommon. I know because I’ve done the same thing in the past when all I was focusing on was weight loss.

This is why most starvation diets don’t work.

It is also why just doing cardio doesn’t work either.

If you want to cut fat, without destroying the lean muscle mass your body needs, you must follow a diet and exercise program designed specifically for this goal.

What Does Fat and Muscle Look Like?

One of the biggest things I’ve noticed lately when talking to people about weight loss is that most people have a totally inaccurate view of how much a pound or five pounds of fat or muscle really is.

For most people it’s just a number. 5lbs, 10lbs, 20lbs, 30lbs – the higher the better. We hear these kinds of numbers being thrown around in the weight loss industry all the time, usually when trying to sell you some sort of crappy crash diet.

The challenge is that 20 years ago, if an advertiser said “With our solution you will lose 5lbs of fat“, people would be impressed.

Today, you see advertisers saying “With our solution you will lose 30lbs of fat in 7 days” and people are still not impressed. Everyone wants instant results NOW.

When I hear people saying “Oh I know this guy who went on this diet and he lost 30 lbs in 1 week” I cringe, because there is always more to a story like that. Unless you’re talking about liposuction or something, you can’t lose 30lbs of fat in a week or two. Of course you can dehydrate yourself beyond that point.

There are professional athletes like boxers out there who lose like 15lbs of weight (not fat!) in a 72hour period when they’re cutting weight for a boxing match. BUT, that is NOT fat loss we’re talking about. All that they do is dehydrate themselves and lose 15lbs of water weight, which is dangerous and they put it back on within 24hours of making weight.

Don’t mistake dehydration with fat loss. They are totally different things. Yet another reason to get a scan, instead of relying on your bathroom scale “weight”.

Let’s get a more accurate view of just how much 5.6 lbs of fat really is. Maybe if you see some pictures it might re-calibrate your thinking a bit.

This is a 250 gram (0.55 lb ) stick of butter. Yes, this big chunk of fat I’m holding in my hand is only half a pound of fat.

So, if that is about half a pound, then what does 5.6lbs of fat look like? Well, imagine 10 of those!

That’s how much excess fat my body has shed in the last 40 days or so. Pretty crazy right?

So what about muscle? How much is 1.5lbs of muscle? Gaining 1.5lbs of muscle doesn’t sound that impressive at first, does it?

Well, here’s a photo of an 8 oz steak ( ~ 0.5 lbs ). Sorry, I don’t have anything in the picture to compare scale but I think you can get a general idea of what an 8 oz steak looks like.

So how much would 1.5 lbs of muscle be then? Well it would be approximately 3 of those steaks:

I know this is not super accurate, nor are the pictures to scale, but I think it at least illustrates the point that a pound of muscle or fat is a LOT.

30 lbs of fat would be about 54 of those sticks of butter. Pretty crazy right?

Do you really think your body can safely shed 30 lbs of fat in a week or two? Or put on 20 lbs of muscle in a few weeks, like some hyped up muscle building products claim?

I really don’t think so.

Bone Density

One thing I totally didn’t notice until I got home was that the scan revealed that my bone weight dropped from 2.8 kg to 2.7 kg which is a loss of 0.1 kg (approx 0.22 lbs).

I didn’t notice this when I was there so I didn’t get a chance to ask about it, but if this is correct it would seem to indicate that I’ve lost some bone density in the last 6 weeks.

I have to double check on this with him, and also check my research, but if this is correct then it may be attributed to a few things:

Lack of Mineral Supplements – I have a good quality multi-vitamin & mineral supplement which I know I need to be taking, but for some reason I haven’t been taking it regularly in the last 6 weeks. I was pretty good with it for the first few weeks of the competition, but then I just stopped taking it. I don’t know if it’s just laziness or some kind of mental block, but I always have a hard time taking my multi-vitamins every day.
Exercise Causing Acidity – Exercise and fat burning are acid-forming activities in your body / blood. When we begin exercising, the body will actually pull alkaline minerals ( like calcium & magnesium ) out of your bones to buffer the acids in your blood – unless we have those alkaline buffers readily available in our body through supplementation (aka multi-vitamin & minerals).
Protein Consumption – My protein consumption has increased since starting this competition. I eat protein in the form of meats and I also supplement with high-quality whey proteins. Although there’s nothing wrong with protein, since our body needs it in order to build tissues and muscle, eating too much protein can be acid forming for the blood. And of course once again if our blood becomes even slightly acidic, the body will automatically pull alkaline buffers from the bones to neutralize the acids.
Lack of Hydration – Although I have increased my water consumption since starting this body transformation, I know it’s still nowhere near the levels I should be at. I have to check my research again, but I do believe inadequate hydration also contributes to bone density loss.

My gut feeling is that it’s probably a combination of all four of these factors. I would be willing to bet that the increase in exercise and protein consumption, along with inadequate hydration has elevated my “acidity” levels for the last 6 weeks or so and due to a lack of daily mineral supplements my body has had to utilize a bit of the minerals stored in my bones to neutralize the acids.

I’ll be doing more research on this for sure. In the meantime I need to smack myself for not taking my multi-vitamin and minerals. Doh!

Why You Should Get a Scan

Raising your awareness is one of the biggest keys to success in life.

Have you ever said to yourself “I’m watching my weight“, or “I want to lose 10 lbs“?

The question I have for you is “10 lbs of what“?

Without accurate body composition analysis, weight loss is rather meaningless.

Weight loss can come from fat loss, muscle loss, bone density loss or from dehydration. Losing 5 lbs or 10 lbs doesn’t mean much unless you know how much of that weight loss came from fat, muscle and bone mass.

I’ve only had two scans so far, and really they were only done less than 6 weeks apart and I’ve already learned so much about my body.

Ideally you’d want to do your scans at slightly larger intervals, such as for example every 3 months in order to see more drastic results, but I can’t tell you how motivating it is to see that you’ve built 1.5lbs of muscle by doing strength training or that you’ve lost 5.6lbs of fat.

Last year when I was doing P90X I know I was building muscle while simultaneously losing fat, but my bathroom scale seemed stuck at 212 lbs or so and that was really demotivating. If I had gone in for a DXA scan back then and saw how much muscle I put on during the 58 days I was on P90X I probably would have stuck with it long term.

Do yourself a favor and get a scan done on your body. Even if you do it just once a year, it’s still a great way to become more aware of what your body composition looks like so that you can track your progress.

If you live elsewhere, I’m sure you can find other people offering the service as well.