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Body Fat & Calories – Part 1

Those invisible little things that make up our food. That give us energy, repair and build muscle tissue. They even have the ability to totally change the shape and size of our bodies, little by little.

What am I talking about?


It wasn’t until January 2012 that the whole calories debate (and yes it is a big one in the health and fitness world!) became of interest to me, on my journey to a better me.

Even still, it wasn’t until February 2013 that I really got it.

As many long-term readers will know; the road to now has been a long and winding one for me. The journey is not yet near done either though more on that in Part 2 of this article – stay tuned…

For now I thought a wonderful way to introduce this subject; and someone very special to me; is to welcome my boyfriend Tippy to the blog. In this case his journey of health and fitness.

My handsome boyfriend who somehow puts up with me...

My handsome boyfriend who somehow puts up with me…

With a background in professional sport and someone who genetically has both a fast metabolism and an athletic physique; he has always held up well by health and fitness standards.

Despite working in a physical job (plumber) and the above genetics; age can be unkind if you have not taken care of your body. Healthier and more active than most; Tippy still noticed he was not satisfied with his health, wellbeing and a little bit of extra “padding.” Moving in with me no doubt had some influence also… However I was adamant that what I do, and how I choose to live is not necessarily for everyone. Though when Tippy told me he was interested in making changes I was so excited!!

Late in 2012 he joined the gym and started training with Mum. He was set up with a program focusing on re-building strength and fitness. He adopted cleaner eating whilst still enjoying the occasional beer and pizza.

In February 2013 he agreed to a DEXA scan. Perhaps he was sick and tired of hearing me go on about them??!! No doubt I would bang on about how important it is for us all to have a defined starting point with regards to changing our body composition; and of course to track it consistently.

Since 2007;  and my long-distance running days; I have visited the wonderful and incredibly knowledgeable Dr Jarrod Meerkin and his team at MeasureUp in Sydney. Understanding and tracking my body composition was an eye-opener to me back then and I still visit the guys on a regular basis. A little bit about the scans below – pulled from their website.

MeasureUp uses the worlds most advanced scanning technology from Hologic, USA. Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), assesses total body bone mineral density and highly accurate measures of the body’s soft tissue composition (muscle mass and fat mass). By measuring your body’s muscle mass, fat mass, and bone mineral density, MeasureUp can determine your total body fat percentage, and changes in regional body composition. We also undertake specific measures to determine your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.

We then use these results to provide specific quantitative information on your ideal caloric intake and energy expenditure, helping you achieve your health and weight loss goals and improved total body health and your ideal weight.

From every total body DEXA scan you get the following information including the Quickscan:

  • Total body bone mineral density
  • Total body muscle mass (kg)
  • Total body fat mass (kg)
  • Total body fat percentage
  • Muscle and fat mass of the trunk and each of your arms and legs
  • Central abdominal fat measurement
  • Accuracy to one tenth of a gram

These scans are quick, simple and covered by health insurance.

This is a sample scan report and you can reach out to the Measure Up team here.

Tippy’s DEXA scan results from FEBRUARY 2013…..

Weight Lean Muscle Mass Body Fat Metabolic Resting Rate
88.6kg 70.7kg 16.7%                     2125kcal

Key points from the results:

  • Low body fat (damn boys and their metabolism!)
  • Reasonable lean muscle mass
  • Tippy was not eating anywhere near enough to maintain his current body composition

Note – our metabolic resting rate is exactly that. The number of calories that we require each day to maintain our incredible bodies at rest. More on this VITAL area in Part 2 of this post.

How do I know that Tippy was not eating enough???


He had a starting point and it was now key to review his daily nutrition and calorie intake. Tippy downloaded the Easy Diet Diary  app and began to track everything that he ate. On some days; even before exercising; he had been eating almost 2 whole meals LESS than he needed for the day. That is potentially 1000 calories in deficit each day which quickly leads to a less than ideal environment for our bodies. Throw in strength training, high-intensity cardio and plumbing work = body meltdown. Not only can the body not maintain itself and all of its incredible functions, though there is no way that it can grow and provide him what he wanted with regards to his health and fitness goals.

Calories support us each and every day. We need them. They are certainly NOT to be treated as a hostile enemy.

Having personally; and successfully; used the Easy Diet Diary app since 2012 to track my calories; I knew this would be a great start for Tippy or anyone wanting to take a closer look at what they are feeding their body each day.

Download it for FREE here .

As it always happens with good influences around you and a positive healthy outlook; consuming the odd beer and pizza occurs less and less. It is a positive cycle in the same way that there are vicious cycles. You eat more clean food, less refined food and focus on what you body wants and needs and…. those foods that used to appeal no longer do. Well not as often anyway! Your body has found its sweet spot, excuse the pun…

Tippy’s goal was to lose his extra padding, re-build strength (not mass), increase fitness, feel good and see some definition in his body.

Clean and nutritious food, eating just under his daily caloric requirement (more specifics on this in Part 2), an intense training program designed uniquely for him, tracking all calories – both in and out – and a positive mindset saw Tippy achieve his goals.

Less than 12 weeks since his DEXA scan he returned for an update on his progress.

MAY 2013 results…..

Weight Lean Muscle Mass Body Fat Metabolic Resting Rate
82.2kg 66.9kg 14.8% 2041kcal

Key points:

  • Ideal – a loss of almost 2% in body fat!
  • Not ideal – a loss of lean muscle mass (he has since gained this with a different program focus and kept his body fat down)

Forget all this though, he looked even more amazing than before (bias!) and felt incredible.

Before shot...

Before shot…

After...Less than 12 weeks of all the right things

After…Less than 12 weeks of all the right things

I am so proud of this wonderful man and am even more thrilled for him. A well-known Chinese proverb is very apt here…

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Nothing that Tippy and I have worked on together to achieve his above goals have been extreme, complicated or unenjoyable. In other words he can maintain this clean and active lifestyle for life and I believe THAT is the ultimate outcome for us all.

In Part 2 of this post, I plan to discuss more of my own journey including losing body fat, training and calories up close.

Do you have a story to share??

Nadia xxxx

Note – I did not receive any compensation to write about the companies/products mentioned in this post – I truly believe in what I am writing.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Alex #

    Great post Nards 🙂

    I got myself a body fat scanning scale at the start of my clean-up my lifestyle effort at the beginning of 2013. Though I’m aware it’s accuracy is dubious, it helps keep me track changes in at least the part of my body it gets through. Losing fat % is always exciting 🙂

    I get confused when they say “Lean Muscle Mass” as to what that actually covers. Does it refer to bone+tissue including tendons muscles organs etc?

    July 3, 2013
    • Thanks so much Alex – glad you enjoyed it!!
      In this scan lean muscle mass is excluding the skeleton and organs. Purely muscle content.

      July 3, 2013
  2. Mel #

    Wow, I can’t believe how different he looks with just 2% fat loss, and no muscle gain? Gives me hope!

    July 3, 2013
  3. He looks great doesn’t he!!? Muscle efficiency and a strength focus WITHOUT building muscle mass is what we focused on and as you can see it works 🙂

    July 3, 2013
  4. Great Post!! I have recently started using Easy Diet Dairy and its fabulous!

    Loving keeping up with the journey, and inspirational to know that this can be a couples game! Living the dream you two!!


    July 4, 2013
    • So kind Chloe thank you (from us both!!)

      The app is wonderful – enjoy using it and thank you again for your support.
      Makes it a breeze with this wonderful community.


      July 4, 2013

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