Sunday, July 31, 2016

Don’t Waste Time, Get a DXA

When starting or maintaining a cut, there’s usually some lag-time while figuring out just how many calories you should be eating to maximize fat-loss while maintaining lean-mass.

There’s a lot of trial-and-error. It could go on for weeks and weeks. And when you get into a grove, the numbers are still based on your best guesses. It’s like playing the board-game Battleship, but with moving pieces! This is when stalls happen despite your best efforts.

Enter DXA body-composition scans. These will tell you precisely how much body-fat, lean- and bone-tissue you have. Plug those numbers into various formulas and you can get just how much you should be eating – whether to lose weight, to maintain, or to add for lean gains.

Here’s 3.5 months of my progress. While I lost 9.2 pounds of body-fat, I also added 0.6 pounds of muscle overall! (ie, the extra muscle gave a slight bump in burn capacity!) That tells me the DXA numbers helped provide a sensible and successful nutrition plan. I saw consistent progress from day-to-day and week-to-week. No stalls.

Notice how the overall body-fat weight changed overtime. Using those updated numbers helped target my deficit max as I got leaner; In April, my potential fat-loss max was almost 900 calories per day. But by end of July, the potential max was 600. (The difference, 300 calories, is a light meal. Wow!) Cutting any steeper would put me in the red-zone and I’d risk losing hard-earned lean mass.


When I first got serious about proper nutrition, DXA and similar body-composition scans were prohibitively expensive and only available at select facilities nowhere nearby. Nowadays, however, a scan costs much, much less. And if you live near a major city, a mobile service will even come out to a convenient location! (In the SF Bay Area, there are at least three mobile services and a handful of brick-and-mortar locations.)

That’s one less barrier to the process: The math side and guess-work is all easily and immediately handled.

To get fit, you need only to act on good information; You don’t need any fancy gear, or a gym membership, or to exercise endlessly every day. You absolutely don’t need to starve.

NEXT POST: Keto, maintenance and travel

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