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Examining Paul Ryan's Body-Fat Claim

Six to eight percent called an exaggeration

Conceivably, a man who ran a sub-three-hour marathon could have six percent body fat. Paul Ryan is not that man, and it appears he might have another fitness-related fracas on his hands. Back in 2010, when being interviewed by Politico about the Capitol Hill P90X exercise group he led—“It works because it’s called muscle confusion, it hits your body in many different ways,” Ryan said—the noted workout enthusiast, unprompted, told Mike Allen, “I keep my body fat between six and eight percent.” Unlikely, according to Outside correspondent Bill Gifford, writing for Slate. Other six to eight percent body-fatters: Olympic 100-meter sprinters and world-class boxers, marathoners, and wrestlers. Not even Tour de France cyclists (eight to nine percent) or collegiate swimmers (9.5 percent) come in at the Ryan range. While it’s not impossible that the vice-presidential candidate is telling the truth, as Giffords notes, maintaining a body fat level of six to eight percent is pretty much a (terrible) full-time job. “It’s hard to sustain,” said Gary Hunter, a physiology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Physiologically, you aren’t going to be functioning real well. Your strength levels will probably go down, you will feel fatigued, and your hormone levels will be disturbed.”

Via Slate

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