T Nation

Where'd it go?

I got my body fat checked yesterday by the same person I always use, using the same method and the same set of calibrated calipers. Forgetting about the actual %, the results showed a 1 lb increase in fat, and a 5 lb increase in muscle (I’m using JMB’s massive eating plan and Ian’s workouts). The strange thing is that the girth measurements (calf, thigh, hips, waist, chest, forearms, upper arms, and neck) dont really show any increase in size, except for 0.5 inch around my neck. In some places, it actually went down 0.25 inches. So, my question is where did the 5 lbs of muscle go? The BF% is < 10% already, so I don’t really think I’m swapping fat for muscle, and even if I were it shouldn’t come up as gaining 1 lb of fat. Is it possible that I’m seeing muscle density increase, in effect burning intra-muscular fat or something? Of course, some of it could also be water retention, my breakfast, etc., but it’s pretty much the same conditions as I normally get it checked, and this isn’t the first month this has happened.

Your bf measure was probably out, because it wouldnt matter if you lost intramuscularly for a skinfold. there is a margin of error for the skinfold measures, for the fat % calculations and probbly the biggest error comes from the person doing the measures.
Do they premeasure the site of the caliper measure to ensure conditions are the same, do they follow a standard measurement procedure in terms of length of time caliper is left on before taking hte measures, yada yada yada

It’s a possibility that it’s out, but it’s done by the same person every time, using the same calipers in the same way. So, I’m not as concerned with the actual number (oh who am I kidding), but the trend, which seems to be following the correct trend. I’m bulking now, and the number was about 0.5% higher then the previous measurement, which was 0.5% higher then the one before that. So, I don’t really think it’s “out”. One possibility is that the muscle is concentrated in areas that are not being measured. For example, I think my arms have gotten a bit bigger, judging from how tight my shirt fits. The tape may be a little low to appreciate the impact of this completely though (like more of it is in the shoulders).

Calipers don’t measure muscle mass. They measure fat mass and, by extension, lean body mass, which is everything (muscle, water, organs, poo, etc.) other than fat. So, the calipers revealed a 5 lb. increase in total LBM, not muscle, which probably means that you were just holding more water than usual, had to crap, or something like that. Your recent change in diet could certainly have effected such things. A real 5 lb. gain in muscle would be very noticeable.

What I mean by std procedures is rather technical. There is an accreditation available for skinfold measures. Even using the same calipers is not good if the person isnt trained. Calipers can vary, tehy need to be tested before each bf measure. The time for each skinfold needs to be standardised, the EXACT position (there are std procedures for setting up positions) need to be followed, this would take longer than hte actual skinfold itself.
Skinfolds can be easily a large % out, there is always some error

Zev: VERY interesting insights. Would this also hold for the impedence scales?

There is an interesting fact for you guys (and gals) one pound of fat has about the same volume as four pounds of muscle. So if you lose one pound of fat and gain four pounds of muscle you will still have the same volume.
This maybe why there was no change in measurements.

ZEV: You bring up an excelent point. I’m hoping not all of it is water, and this has been kinda a trend over the past few months (it seems like the girth measurements with a tape measure have gone up over the past few months, but not enough to account for 23 lbs!). Certainly some of it is though (10 lbs seems like a resonable amount).

JungleJim: You have an excelent point too, but remember that the fat mass increased and the muscle mass increased, at least according to the calipers, which as cycomiko has pointed out, could very well be wrong. That’s why I was thinking that it may be unmeasureable fat that has been consumed (i.e. inter-muscular fat). Considering according to the calipers I only have 12 lbs of fat total, I doubt that I’m losing much unless I really work at it.

Cycomiko: My guess is that a guy who does this for a living (this guy does - he's a nutritionist for 5 years or so) probably knows the sites pretty well, and probably has his technique down such that there's little variance across different measurements (not to say that the actual number is as accurate as it can be, just that thiers little variance across two different measurements). But it is always a possibility.

BTW, all looking at the measurements again, my thigh went up a bit too (I think it was 0.5 inches), so that could account for a fair amount of weight, considering I have two of them, and it’s a big muscle group. Which brings up the other point that perhaps thiers an imbalance that we are unaware of, since the measurements are only taken on one side.

Jungle, mass gain wouldnt affect the caliper reading, its reading the skin and the fat. so a gain in muscle mass wouldnt affect their reading. It would affect bodyweight tho.

Stevo - One of my lecturers has done a large amount of research in africa, she did skinfolds for one study on >1000 subjects. Once she became accredited to a program (I cant remember its name but I could find out) she discovered they were all WRONG.
The equations used in estimating the bf levels are worked out for very specific sites of hte body. I mean to find the measurement site for hte bi’s and tri’s involves measuring from acromioclavicular joint (I think, its hte little dip at the shoulder that Im looking for) to the end of hte oleclarion process. The midway point is marked,and then transfered to the edges of hte bis and tris for the skinfold measure. Its not simply just grabbin the arm and pinchin, no matter how good you are at it.