It seems like everyone is trying to find the fat content of food these days, especially when it comes to yogurt, milk and cheese. Well, I recently jumped in a hydrostatic weighing chamber and officially found out the fat content of my body. As a fitness professional, I’ve used multiple body fat measuring tools over the years, such as calipers, hand-held analyzers, special scales and long equations that are so complicated you need to be a nuclear scientist to figure them out. If you’re familiar with the Lean Berets, you’d know we like to role in grade two mentality, so we’ll save the long-winded formulas for the people with 14 sets of initials past their names.
When I was invited to “get tanked,” I was brimming with excitement. Hydrostatic weighing is known as the gold standard of body fat measurement in the fitness industry, and I was finally able to get an accurate reading that I sought after for over a decade. As I arose from the tank and turned to my right, I was given the news by Testing Specialist Linda Finley. She looked me right in the eye and said, “6 percent.” My lean body mass (LBM), which includes muscle, bone, cartilage, skin, fluids and all other tissue other than fat was 172 pounds, while my fat mass was about 11 pounds. This puts me in the 99th percentile for my age, height and weight. What does this mean? It means I’m a pretty fit mofo.
Just for the record, I’m not here to stroke my ego or tell you how great I am. My goal is to give you usable advice on how you too can achieve a low body fat percentage with a high amount of lean body mass. It’s really not that complicated, and I’m sure you’ve heard this before… eat right and move your ass! Well, you might not have heard those exact words, but that’s the way I bottom-line it. When I say eat right, I don’t mean give up entire food groups, go on uber-restrictive diets or refrain from eating the foods you love. In fact, you can ask Jill Molchan from the Gluten Free Institute and fellow Lean Beret about my eating habits. I guarantee she will say I have a HUMONGOUS sweet tooth. In the words of the great Kenny Rogers, you’ve got to know when to hold and know when to fold em.
Your goal is to feed your body every few hours and make sure to have a balance of protein, carbs and fat with each meal. These are called macronutrients, in case you were unaware. I can get a little more technical and tell you exact percentages and such, but I’m pretty sure if I tried to explain that to a seven-year-old, he would look at me with a bewildered stare and say, “Wuh?…” so I’m not going to get complicated with you either. Simply put, eat a small, balanced meal every two to three hours and drink water as your main source of fluid. Liquid calories are still calories, and they have done a great job in contributing to the obesity epidemic over the years. Water is free of calories, it hydrates the body and also flushes impurities from your system. Also make sure to always start your day with breakfast. I don’t want to hear about how you’re not hungry or in such a bloody hurry that you don’t have time to eat. Everyone’s in a hurry in the morning! Eat something, even if it’s five tablespoons of your favorite organic yogurt. By the end of the day, you may be looking at six or more meals. That’s totally fine. I sometimes exceed eight.
Exercise is the second part of the low body fat equation. Yes, I know you might not want to hear it, but we are LEAN Berets, and we didn’t get that way by simply eating like horses every day. To get the best bang for your buck, put down the magazines and newspapers, and do high-intensity interval training. Apply this modality to both weight training and cardio. Take short breaks, or low-intensity active rest breaks and you will be on the fast track to a lean body. I’m not going to get into specifics with workouts because that could take a while, and it would be better suited for a blog of its own. Just understand that my workouts are intense, and that’s what enables me to have the occasional cookies or bowl of ice cream.
To summarize, the ticket to ride for weight loss and achieving low body fat is get your metabolism revving 24 hours a day. It’s not slouch on a treadmill or exercise bike for two-hour time frames; it’s not go on a crazy diet plan that throws beans and grains under the bus, and it sure as hell is not get hooked up to a bloody feeding tube for god’s sake! Graze instead of gorge, sprint instead of walk and rest for a short amount of time between sets.
In case you were wondering, I got hydrostatically weighed in a mobile truck that goes from town to town. This is way easier and more convenient than going to a university or medical clinic. If you want more information, check out BodyFatTest.com.