Ferriss examined nine different methods of body composition testing, and "[a]fter dozens of trials with multiple subjects, and taking into account both constancy and convenience (including cost), there were three clear winners." The first of the three: DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) -- the "gold standard" of body composition testing. DEXA is a full-body scan typically used to measure bone density, but it's also capable of pinpointing body fat percentage and location. In a nutshell, you plop down on a table, fully-clothed, and a movable electronic scanner X-rays your body from head to toe. It takes less than ten minutes, and you get a keepsake photo of your lumpy silhouette (think airport security pornoscan shots) showing all the fleshy parts you'd prefer to conceal with Spanx and oversized football jerseys. Fun!
Bonus: The unassuming little medical office where Ferriss gets his DEXA scans is just a few freeway exits from my home.
So for kicks, both M and I decided to give this DEXA thing a shot. This afternoon, after shelling out $65 and filling out some simple paperwork, I found myself lying on some crinkly paper, staring at the ceiling while a softly-whirring mechanical arm performed low-dose X-ray scans of my body. It took no time at all. Before I left, the friendly technician spent a few minutes going over my DEXA measurements with me.
Check me out. (Nice lungs, right?)
I'd gained about ten pounds over the past six months, so I figured my body fat percentage had gone up, too. But I'm happy (and more than a little shocked) that my low body fat level puts me in the 1st percentile for my age, meaning I'm leaner than 99 percent of other men in their mid-thirties.
Despite switching to a Paleo diet and adopting a 3-days-a-week CrossFit schedule (i.e., eating loads of saturated fat and exercising less frequently), I've maintained a sub-10 percent body fat percentage. The weight gain, it seems, is largely muscle.
I don't know if it's due to eating Paleo, lifting heavy stuff and doing short metcons a few times a week, intermittent fasting, or a combination of the above, but something seems to be working.