Monday, January 12, 2015

What's Your Number? The Importance Of Knowing What Your Weight Really Means

Hey Fit Fam ...

Today I'm going to tell you about a little place that could help you in a BIG way when it comes to your wellness goals (I refuse to say "diet" or "weight loss" or "resolution")

I've never known what my body fat percentage was or lean muscle mass -- other than doing those little calculators online which are NOT accurate. I wish more than anything the Lab I am blogging about today had been around when I started my journey back in April/May. While I had a coach guiding me back then with what my nutrition should look like, it would have been great to know what my body fat percentage was going into this journey. More than that, it would have been super helpful to know exactly how many calories MY body was burning while resting, while being active, etc.

Every single body is different, which is exactly why using a scale as guidance can sometimes be a problem.  That number staring back at you is pretty useless, especially if you are lifting weights and eating right. For example ... I was at my Flex Lewis stage day weight yesterday (which is my goal weight during off season) .. but today I woke up 2 pounds heavier. I had a cheat meal yesterday, but did I really gain 2 pounds of fat from it .. no!!! Just one example of why a scale is NOT a great indicator of where you are at in your fitness journey and is certainly not something you should use to determine "success" or "failure" during your journey. As we all know there are many factors that go into that "number" .. one of the biggest being the fact that muscle weighs more than fat!

I have always been curious what my numbers are. But I was especially curious when I was at my absolute smallest/leanest. For me it was really helpful to know at that time, because I can use it as a comparison for other shows, future goals, etc. While my body hasn't changed much since being tested in November, I have put some muscle back on and I'm sure a little fat too. I actually needed to put on a little fat.  I was at a "percentage" that I shouldn't be year round (which I wouldn't have known if not for the lab.) I plan on being re-tested soon so that I know what my "off season" (more realistic) numbers are. These numbers are very important because they give us all kinds of information that a scale CAN NOT.  This lab is a great tool for anyone at any fitness level. Probably even more beneficial for someone just getting started! It really takes the "guesswork" out of things like how many calories you need to be taking in each day. That said ... it won't tell you WHERE your calories should be coming from. So remember .. all calories are NOT equal :) Luckily, I've got your back with this here blog!! There are also endless resources online AND the lab even offers nutrition programs!

I could tell you my "numbers" and how many calories they say I need/burn a day, but that is useless information for YOU. So I won't. But I will say my experience at the lab gets two thumbs up .. 10 out of 10 .. 5 stars!! It is a very inexpensive test (you can find all info HERE), I was in/out in 15 min (finding parking included) and walked away with info in hand and also in my email inbox!!

Since I cant answer all your questions about what the lab is and what it entails, I went straight to the experts so you can better understand what it is they do!! I highly encourage you to read the Q&A I did with Anna (below) and make your appointment so you know what YOUR number REALLY means!

Eat Clean. Train Dirty.

Transformat10n Lab Q&A

The device you use to test is called a “Bod Pod" because it’s just that … this little pod you simply sit in!! But what exactly is the device you use at the Transformat10n Lab? 

The Bod Pod is a device that tests for body composition.  It measures the difference between your body's fat mass and lean mass (muscle, bone, tissue, organs).  Tracking in the Bod Pod over time allows us to see even tiny changes in both fat and muscle.
How does this system “work” and why is it so much more accurate than some other well known “methods” (such as a pinch test or fancy body fat scales).

The Bod Pod is an Air Displacement Plethysmograph (ADP).  While a client sits in the Pod, the system measures a series of very small pressure changes to determine body volume and subsequently, body density.  Using this information along with a methodology called whole body densitometry, the Bod Pod can determine body composition to an extremely accurate degree.

Both pinch test (calipers) and fancy scales (BIA) can be used as tracking tools, but the challenge with both of these methods is creating a consistent test environment.  For calipers, the administrator who does the "pinching," the consistency of the force used, variance in where body fat is stored, are all variables that contribute to the error rate.  For BIA, hydration levels, strength of the current used, and conductivity, all have a tendency to vary from test to test.  Because of this, we see error rates of +/- 5-9% or in some cases, even more.  Body change is typically a slow, gradual process, and error rates that high make it nearly impossible to track progress.

Unlike other testing methods, the “Bod Pod” doesn’t require you to get wet (even though you do have to wear a swim cap provided by the lab), and takes very little time! 

Correct!  The test process is very simple and takes no more than 10 minutes.  Since we are using air displacement instead of water, there is no need to get all wet.
How important is knowing your body fat percentage and lean body mass when starting your fitness journey?

​We think it's an essential piece of information to have in your fitness "toolbelt."  We see so many folks get in a battle with the scale, feeling like they aren't making progress if that weight number is not decreasing.  As you know from being a competitor yourself, resistance [strength] training plays a huge role in shaping a great physique and a healthy metabolism.  Especially for someone just starting a fitness journey, a good strength training program is going to result in an increase in lean muscle mass.  Even if that same person is burning fat, they may not see much difference in their body weight. Understanding changes in fat vs. muscle is important for gauging true progress, but the importance is magnified when you consider that person may become discouraged and ultimately lose motivation because of lack of progress on the scale.

On the other end of the spectrum, clients who are losing weight aggressively can use this to carefully monitor their lean body mass and make sure their weight loss is not happening too fast.  Underfueling on extremely low calorie diets can lead to negative long-term consequences such as a weight rebound and a burned out metabolism -- both signs that lean body mass, specifically muscle, has decreased substantially.
As part of this test, you can also determine how many calories a persons body burns each day. You can even break that down based on their activity level. Explain this. 

When we are able to get an complete picture of a clients body composition (fat mass vs. lean mass), we can get much closer to predicting their resting metabolic rate (RMR).  We understand to a very accurate degree the difference in calories (energy) it takes to fuel lean mass (muscle, bone, organs, etc.) versus the amount needed to fuel fat mass. Once we have the raw RMR data, we determine a clients activity level to figure out their total energy expenditure -- or amount of calories their body burns daily.

Where this really gets exciting is the use of the Korr ReeVue test to actually measure a client's metabolic rate.   The ReeVue test uses a process called indirect calorimetry and essentially is just a measurement of the oxygen that your body consumes over a certain period.  This actually allows us to compare your measured metabolic rate to two different predicted numbers and figure out if you have a faster, slower, or equal metabolism to what we would expect for your height, weight, age, etc.

It may be hard for someone to determine exactly what their activity level is. What is the best way to decide which category you fall into? 

Great question --  We are actually working on a project that we hope will make calculating this much more user-friendly.  At the lab, we look at three different variables: activity level at your job or occupation, frequency/duration/intensity of workout sessions, and activity level/frequency of outside hobbies.  As a general rule of thumb:

Sedentary (x1.25) -- Limited workout activity; 1-2 times per week at lower intensity.  Low activity level at job/hobbies.
Low Active (x1.47) -- Moderate workout load and intensity, approx 3-4 times per week. Workouts may be reduced if job/hobby activity is higher.
Active (x1.69) -- Moderate to high workout intensity 5-6 times per week.  Also may include individuals with very physically demanding occupations.
Extreme (x1.91) -- High intensity workouts 6-7 times per week or multiple sessions per day.  Competitive athletes and/or those with both physical jobs and physical hobbies.

Say you consider yourself “Active” and your resting metabolic “number” indicates you burn 2000 calories just resting. What does this mean exactly as far as my daily nutrition plan and how many calories I should be taking in each day? 

2000 (Resting Metabolic Rate) x 1.69 (Activity Multiplier - "Active") = 3380 (Total Energy Expenditure)

We would predict that this individual is burning 3380 calories per day.  They would have essentially three basic options as how to fuel:

Caloric deficit -- 2630 - 3230
Maintenance -- 3230 - 3530
Caloric surplus -- 3530 - 4130

You all are doing a really neat challenge right now! Tell us about it! 

The Transformat10n Challenge is our annual 12-week body improvement challenge that we launch each January.  After some amazing results the last two years, we've got our largest group ever signed up to take on the 2015 edition.

With the challenge, we combine three elements that we feel really boost a client's likelihood for success: accountability, support, and competition.  We team clients up in groups of five to build teamwork and accountability.  We provide round the clock nutrition support and guidance including custom meal overviews, supplement plans, and a discount at our retail store.  Finally, we track progress in the Bod Pod and offer a cool $4,000 to the overall winner (1/2 of which goes to a Nashville charity of the winner's choice).  The challenge is not just a weight loss contest -- the scoring criteria takes into account changes in body fat percentage, improvements in lean muscle, and a pre-post photo change.  Check out some of our top finishers from the first two years!

You have two new additions coming in 2015. Tell me about ULTRASOUND Composition Testing and VO2 Max Testing and how is it different than what you offer now.

The Ultrasound Composition testing will provide a second body composition assessment with similar accuracy to the Bod Pod.  One element of the Ultrasound testing that makes it unique is the ability to perform a segmental analysis to determine exactly where your body fat is distributed.

The VO2 Max tests for maximal oxygen update and results can be used to determine and monitor aerobic capacity.

The Transformat10n Lab is connected with Mid10Nutrition Store. Talk about how important proper supplementation is in someones wellness journey?

It certainly does make a difference. At Mid 10, we preach that proper supplementation really starts at the ground level with whole food nutrition. Once we have the basic intake where it should be, we can address the following three areas with proper supplementation.

1. Daily Foundations -- filling in any gaps or deficiencies in total intake or providing key nutrients not readily available in our diets.
2. Workout Support -- providing the right nutrients to boost performance in the gym as well as kick-start the recovery process as soon as possible when the workout is complete.
3. Optimization --  utilizing key nutrients that fuel our bodies to operate with the greatest efficiency towards a given goal.

If someone can’t afford all the “extras”, what are the TWO supplements (non vitamin) you suggest everyone have on hand? 

High-potency fish oil and BCAAs (branched chain amino acids).  A good argument could be made for creatine to be in here as well especially for individuals looking to enhance power/strength or explosive moments.

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