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Chapter 3 - Understanding the Body Composition Game


The goal of the “Body Composition Game” is simple: to establish and maintain a body fat percentage that meets your desired health and aesthetic goals. This chapter will introduce you to the major players and rules involved in the game.

Car Analogy 

(Understanding Stored Energy,Body Composition, and Fuel Burning)

Car Analogy: Engine Size + (Driving Time and Conditions) = Fuel Needs

I know you have a great imagination. You just built a mother-in-law apartment with me and walked through the lives of Bubba and Slim. Now I want you to pretend that you are pumping gas and the automatic shutoff does not work, so even after the tank is full it keeps trying to pump fuel in. What happens then? Right! All that extra fuel comes pouring out all over you, your car, and the ground. Since we are pretending here, let us pretend that your car has a special catch system that takes this extra fuel and puts it in a big drum on your roof. With this added catch system, your car is now a lot like your body. All the extra fuel you put into it is “caught” and stored in the chemical form of fat, all over your body.

Gas pumping = fuel / energy in
Our food consumption = fuel / energy in
55 gallon drum for excess fuel = your fat energy stores

Which burns more fuel, a multi-colored VW Love Bug or a big Monster Truck when it is idling or running? Of course, a big Monster Truck burns more fuel in both cases. It burns more fuel because it is bigger and has a bigger engine. It takes more energy to move something big and to run a bigger engine. What makes your body go is its Lean Body Mass (LBM). Your LBM is made up of all the tissue in your body (muscle, bone, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc.) minus your body fat.

Your LBM is the engine of your body. It determines how much fuel you burn idling and running. If your goal was to burn ten gallons of gas, which one would do it in a shorter amount of time and distance if both the Love Bug and the Monster Truck went the same speed? Again, the Monster Truck would. The Love Bug has to do more driving (work) to burn as much fuel as the Monster Truck. The same is true when comparing people of different LBM. The individual with more LBM is going to burn more fuel quicker and easier than someone with less.

The second thing that determines how much fuel you use is how far or how fast you drive. If you drive longer or faster, you will burn more fuel. When it comes to aerobic activities, the longer or faster you do them the more fuel you will use.

Your engine size is the amount of Lean Body Mass (LBM) you have which, along with activity determines the amount of fuel your body needs and burns. If you want your body to be a fuel burning, high energy-demanding machine, you have to have a big engine and be moving.

Power Point: Understand the car analogy and LBM and be able to explain it to others.

Which vehicle burns more fuel while idling and running?

Engine and Energy: What determines our engine size?

How Big is your Engine?

You just learned that your body’s engine is its Lean Body Mass (LBM). Now of all the things that make up our LBM, skeletal muscle has the greatest degree for potential growth and size increase. So if you want to increase your engine size and fuel-burning capacity, you need to increase your muscle mass. You can do this with many different types of resistance training that you will learn about in the “Resistance” section.

Now, I know there are a few ladies thinking, “Oh no!! He is going to have me looking like a Warrior Princess!” Don’t worry- you are not going to be looking like a female professional wrestling star. I will explain all that in the “Adaptation” and “Resistance” sections. For now, I just want you to remember that muscle is your engine and that bigger engines burn more fuel. To get a better understanding of LBM and body composition, let’s take a closer look at Bubba’s history:

  • a 250 lb male, with 40% body fat (BF)
  • at the start of it all, Bubba had a LBM of 150 lbs [Total body weight 250 lb – BF 100 lb (40% of 250 lbs) = LBM 150 lb]
  • since 1lb of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, Bubba had stored 350,000 calories of energy

Now you know that Bubba’s 350,000 units of energy or 1400 Snicker bars were being stored in his fat barns in a chemical form. And you know from the self-empowering first law of thermodynamics that this energy would not simply go away or be destroyed. In order for Bubba to decrease the size of his fat barns, he had to give his body a reason to convert his stored chemical form of energy into another form of energy. By putting his body into motion, increasing his engine, and regulating his fuel intake, he created a demand for those chemical storages to be converted into a mechanical form. Thus, he decreased the size of his marbles (fat cells) and changed the contour of his body.

To find out your body composition, use the body fat calculator in the “Calculator” section of the CD-ROM.

How much energy do we need?

Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of energy your body needs just to maintain its vital functions. It is the amount of fuel your engine needs to “idle.” So if all you were going to do is lie in bed, your BMR would tell you how much energy that would take.

Well, most of us do a little more than just lie in bed all day. So if we take the amount of energy to maintain vital functions (our BMR) and add all the energy needed to do our daily activities, we would have our Basal Energy Expenditure (BEE).

If we say Bubba has a BEE of 3,800 calories, we mean that, on average in a day, Bubba’s BRM and activities require 3,800 units of energy.

Where can Bubba get the fuel that he needs to meet his BEE requirements?

  1. Food intake.
  2. Fat barns that house his stored energy.
You can find out your estimated caloric needs with the Body Fat Calculator in the “Calculator” section of the CD-ROM.