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High bodyfat count?

I competed in my second triathlon yesterday in Stratford. It was wet and muddy but even a puncture at the end of the bike section didn't dent my enthusiasm.

Afterwards I had a bodyfat test, as it was available and free! I took up triathlon this year and have trained 4 or 5 times a week since May and have been pleased with my progress as I've lost a stone in weight and seem to have lost bodyfat, I'm 12 stone and just under 6ft tall. I was surprised that the test result showed I was on the high end of the normal bodyfat zone, not far from being overweight whilst my BMI was fine.

It was suggested that I was perhaps not having enough protein in my diet, given my training, and therefore my body was storing as much fat as possible to compensate. Now I'm certainly a meat eater but have perhaps started to avoid cheese because of the fat count and concentrated on carbs more.

I was given a daily guideline amount for protein of 119g which seems really large but if I eat more protein then over time my bodyfat will reduce and my energy levels will increase. Can anyone offer any words of advice?


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    If you are happy with your progress and the direction your training is heading in then why worry about what a test based on averages tells you??

    No two people are the same, i weigh 11- 11 1/2 stone, but i aint anywhere near 6ft. So if i look on a chart i am just below the red for overweight! But i do lots of cycling and have heavy legs.

    I'd say listen to your body and how you feel. Maybe keep a training log of how you feel, perform and what you eat. This is a much better way of determining progress and also good at flagging areas in which you can improve.
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    ardkeenardkeen Posts: 152
    Hi Simon,

    A general rule of thumb is 1g of protein per kilo body wt is adequate nutritional intake. Obviously when you are exercising regularly and intensively you will need more, but what you mentioned does sound excessive. Quality of protein is also very important, so natural rather than processed shakes etc is important. I'm not a dietitain or a nutritionist, just a GP who does tri.

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    toadtoad Posts: 104

    It sounds to me you have been misinformed.....

    Here are some facts that may interest you.

    Body fat testing is hugely unreliable, whether this is in the form of caliper measurements, or bioimpedence.

    dextar scanning or underwater weighing may be more reliable, however usually expensive and not offered for free

    Doc is right 1.0gm per kg bodyweight is a good guideline to follow, and is easily acheived with a healthy diet, recommendations for elite triathletes probably training twice a day is 1.2-1.4 gm per kg body weight.

    in adolescents it is also recommended that a slightly higher protein intake may be necessary.

    Protein will provide very little energy to triathletes during training, however it is helpful in restoring protein breakdown in muscles, the recommended values above will easily provide the body enough protein to do this.

    Carbohydrate and fat are the two main fuels a triathlete will use, carbohydrate produces energy much faster than fat so adequate intake of carbohydrate is necessary in harder training sessions. It will also protect against protein loss, if you are training hard 5 times a week your diet should be over 80% carbohydrate.

    Fat is burnt during slower easier training sessions, eg like the long slow runs and cycles that we often do in winter.

    Sounds to me given your weight loss you are doing very well, I would become concerned if you started losing weight and were lacking energy, this would be a sure sign you are not getting enough carbohydrates.

    Keep up the good work

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    Thanks for your replies.

    So as a general rule of thumb I should be having about 76gms of protein as I'm about 76kg. More than I thought so I probably need to up those quality proteins.

    gaterz1981 I appreciate the sentiments that whilst I'm pleased with my progress and my body feels OK then don't worry about it but I thought the bodyfat test was not based on averages, unlike the BMI test which I didn't take much notice of.

    I am keeping a training log and it has been really useful, particularly for motivation as the improvements are measurable - I've knocked 6 minutes off my 5k time since starting in May. I just thought that a lower bodyfat count would help me to continue to improve. Besides the Chilterns are quite hilly so I don't want to lug too much weight going up!

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    BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Who was doing the measuring? Why was it free? What were they selling? Would it be a nutritional product of some sort by any chance?
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    BoycieBoycie Posts: 189
    Was this body composition test done directly after the race? If so I would totally ignore it as dehydration will lead to inacuracies in results. This is why you never measure body composition after exercise.

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    Thanks for you replies.

    It was done about 1/2 hour after the event. I would have hoped that those doing the tests would have advised me about unpredictablility of the test so soon after the event. And yes, they were promoting products.

    I'm grateful for the information you have all given me and glad I asked.

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    BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Isn't marketing wonderful?
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    Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    Your "testers" seem to be the worst kind of charlatans, understanding neither body fat percentage machines, or nutrition. It's quite annoyed me ;-)

    Firstly, the machine doesn't measure body fat/composition. It just fires a little electrical signal into your body, and sees what has happened to it when it comes out. A _rough_ correlation between what happens to the signal and body composition has been observed, so the machine looks up an average profile - what happens to a signal when it is passed through bodies of known fat percentage. The research data to get this is usually based on relatively small studies of a few others - and like all averages, is never going to be right for anyone (how many people do have 2.5 or 1.8 kids?).

    Your body is largely made up of water, and this changes throughout the day. So a great deal of variance occurs because of this - and what you have been doing (plus or minus 2-4%) in my personal experience.

    The "model" of body fat percentage also breaks down at extremes - i.e. very fat, or very thin, lots of muscle, not much muscle.

    There are typically different profiles/models for gender, and, quite often, a "fitness level". I have one machine that says I am 24% in "couch potato" mode, 16% in "athlete mode".

    So what is the point of them? Not a lot. The _only_ thing a monitor is useful for is your relative changes over a period of time. If you get one, you can measure yourself (ideally at the same time of day - you'll be lowest, typically, in the afternoon, so when you get in from work is a good time) and then see how things change over a period of time. What you can't do is get anything like a meaningful result with a one-off reading. And you can't compare your results with those from other machines that are set up differently (I've seen variances of 10% between different machines).

    But if you are a bit of a geek, and fascinated by numbers (like me), then they can be a bit of fun - but not to be taken seriously. Over the course of loosing 2 - 2.5 stones (183cm tall, 14.5st -> 12st), and starting to do a lot of exercise, I saw readings go from around 23%-24% to 15%-17%. But I could tell from my weight and the fact that my body shape was changing through lots of exercise (endurance and gym) that I was losing fat and gaining muscle. In short, it can be a bit of fun if you like that sort of thing, and provide a relative indication of _changes_ over the _long_ term. But that's it.

    Secondly, Nutrition: "You are what you eat" is a very general principle. Your body breaks down everything you eat, and converts it to the various factors it needs. So fat eaten isn't converted directly to fat. Protein eaten isn't converted directly to muscle. It's calories in, calories out. And that's all you really need to worry about (given a reasonably balanced diet), until you get to extremes of athletic performance - where you suddenly become really interested in things that might make the slightest difference.

    If you are training/performing well (improving), losing weight, and feeling/looking better then you are doing just fine.
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