This article is very important to read especially if you are one of the millions of people focusing on “weight loss.” I have a friend, an occasional client, who I will temporarily see in the gym throughout the year. Consistency has been the main roadblock for this particular client in terms of both exercise and eating habits. Before I go on let me be clear; this article is not about me being responsible for any success this person has recently had. I have not worked with this person in the time frame that I am writing about. He did this all on his own without any exercise (unfortunately) or additional nutritional input from me. I have provided him with info in the past and hopefully he was drawing from some of that but this was done w/out any further input or help from me.
This article’s purpose is first, to show what can be done simply through addressing the fundamentals and second, to show what may also be going on if you only look at the number on the scale as your reference for health or success. Overall, what this person achieved should be viewed as a positive outcome but I do want people to be aware of other things that need to be taken into consideration when trying to lose weight in the most healthy way possible.
I would guess he is a stressed individual (especially in the summer months) considering he owns a number of businesses that involve dealing directly with the general public in large numbers. Over the past 6 months something “clicked.” He decided to make some dietary changes for the better and he was consistent. I don’t know what his epiphany was but he was feeling good and looking better so I wasn’t going to get in the way of his momentum with more info or advice to muddy the waters. He was doing well and I didn’t want to get in the way of a good thing.
I recently saw him at a get together and noticed he was lookng noticeably thinner. I have taken his bodyfat measurements in the past (Feb 2012) and I was curious what they were now so I told him I would like to measure him again and he agreed to it. I’m sure he was curious too.
We learned ALOT from these measurements which is what I wanted to share with you in this article. Before I go on, it’s important for you to know I am using the BioSignature method of bodyfat assessment. To find out more, visit www.charlespoliquin.com/Education/Biosignature.aspx
Here are the numbers from the last time I measured him (Feb 2012) and his most recent measurements this month, May 2013 (note: he did say he was at a heavier bodyweight between these two dates so he actually lost more than is noted here)
Bodyweight – 218 Bodyweight – 196
Body fat – 24.6% Bodyfat – 21%
Chin – 10.8 Chin – 8.6
Cheek – 13.8 Chin – 12.3
Pec – ? Pec – 7.2
Tricep – 13.3 Tricep – 12.2
Subscapular – 24.2 Subscapular – 18.5
Midaxillary (ribs) – 20.7 Midaxiallry (ribs) – 16
Suprailliac (love handles) – 33 Suprailliac – 24.2
Umbilical – 37 Umbilical – 29.5
Kneecap – 7 Kneecap – 7
Calves – 12.7 Calves – 10.2
Quadricep – 13.6 Quadricep – 9.6
Hamstring – 26.2 Hamstring – 25.8
So what do these numbers tell us? Like I said, ALOT. I won’t go into all the info we can actually get from these numbers but I will address a few key points that I feel many people gloss over.
If we just look at it from the scale point of view he lost 22lbs. Sounds great right? Well, it is in some ways and not so great in some ways. Like I said he was feeling better, and definitely looking much better which is motivation to continue on and definitely hard to argue against. His bodyfat levels also dropped but not as much as I would have thought. He reduced his bodyfat level by 3.6%. (One more note, I should say my caliper pinching skills are still not super accurate yet since it takes thousands of readings before you should really consider yourself proficient at measuring skinfolds, hence the “?” after the first pec measurement. But I do feel they are definitely in the ball park and definitely more accurate than any biometric impedance scale or handheld fat measuring device).
So when we look at those two numbers, 22lbs lost, and bodyfat reduced 3.6 % what does that tell us? Here’s where it get very interesting (if my math is correct). At a bodyweight of 218 lbs, approximately 53.5 lbs of that was fat. At his current bodyweight and bodyfat level he is carrying approximately 41 lbs of fat. That is roughly a 12lb reduction in bodyfat! Sounds great, right? Well on one hand it is and he should feel great about that….and on the other hand it isn’t. Remember he lost a total of 22 lbs, where did the other 10 lb loss come from? MUSCLE!!! He lost 10 lbs of fat burning, aesthetically pleasing, functional muscle tissue. So although he lost weight and he feels better (and overall he is currently healthier I’m sure), he has a smaller engine to burn fuel and as a result fewer insulin receptors which could make it harder for him to maintain the weight loss in the future or make it more difficult for him to lose more fat. Please don’t underestimate the importance of having adequate muscle tissue.
What else? Well like I said there is alot, but let’s address 2 things. First, notice the two biggest drops in measurement. The supra illiac (love handles) and the umbilical (stomach). The reduction in the love handles shows that he definitely did manage to reduce the amount of unhealthy carbohydrates he ate (especially corn which he can no longer eat w/out immediately becoming congested) and also the umbilical site went down which is related to long term cortisol exposure. When insulin goes up, cortisol will subsequently go up a couple hours later. The umbilical site is correlated with stress so like I said he is probably stressed most of the time and then throw some high glycemic allergenic foods in there to increase the cortisol and insulin levels and you get a fat midsection, reduce those foods and you see a site specific decrease. I feel it’s important to note that just reducing his calories most likely did not result in the fat decrease in this area, it was more hormonally driven as a result of the reduction of these foods. On the other hand his reduced muscle mass is probably a result of his reduced calorie and protein intake. How many times have you seen shows about poor people who have limited funds to buy food, let alone good healthy foods, yet they are still overweight or obese? The power of simple processed carbs can not be overlooked when it comes to body composition and health.
Which site didn’t move? The hamstrings. If you do not have a really well functioning digestive system, are chronically exposed to things like parabens, pesticides, (and you are!) etc, if you do not have adequate vitamin and mineral levels to fuel the liver to detoxify properly, if you do not have adequate fiber intake, or if you do not have proper levels of healthy gut bacteria to properly digest and eliminate, then you will have difficulty reducing fat storage of this site. Realize that 100% of babies today are born toxic meaning they are born with toxic chemicals in their blood as a result of their parents exposure through choices they made and through the environment we all live in. Kids are starting off at a disadvantage.
There was alot of advice that I would have liked to give this person but I began with the basics. I suggested he ate more protein, didn’t skip meals, and started with some resistance training to start rebuilding his levels of muscle back. After all what is the major fat/fuel burner of the body? Muscle. What is responsible for you being able to move those bones? Muscle. What helps improve your appearance on the beach in the summer time? Muscle (unless you are going for that “skinny fat” look). We addressed his Omega 3 fat intake levels which we can dial in better as a result of his numbers, and also some fiber intake levels. Hopefully we will measure again after summer and we will see the same bodyweight and a lower body fat level indicating he gained muscle, lost fat, and still weighs the same. DO NOT RELY ON A SCALE TO INDICATE WHETHER OR NOT YOUR WEIGHT LOSS IS HEALTHY OR OPTIMAL.
What else can we learn from these readings? Well, a whole lot, probably even more than what I am currently aware of. If you are interested in learning more about this and would like to get your body fat levels assessed, drop me a line.