Thought this NYTimes…

Thought this NYTimes slideshow of various Olympic athletes was astonishing.

Comparing their body fat percentages, calories eaten, height and weight is really fascinating. They're basically all eating 4000-6000 calories a day, from the thinnest to the heaviest -- and they're all muscle. I can't even imagine what 4000 calories a day would look like -- two bacon cheeseburgers and chili cheese fries at every meal? Wacky.

Motivation for more exercise -- so I can eat more!!!

(That said, today was the first day I exercised since Clarion. Twenty minutes of step aerobics while watching Mad About You. Sigh. I'm going to get back to it, though, I swear.)

9 thoughts on “Thought this NYTimes…”

  1. I’ve exercised enough to need 6000 calories.

    It’s nightmarish. You have to start choosing foods by caloric density because there’s only so much time to EAT, and then you have to balance the intake between carbs, fat and protein.

    At 6000 calories, getting a balanced amount of protein becomes very, very difficult. The whole eating thing feels a lot more like filling up the car at a gas station than eating a huge, wonderful meal.

  2. Trained eyes tell me that slideshow is bunk. They’re certainly not “all muscle” – the weightlifter is listed at 28% and the shot putter at 15%, and the trained eyes tell me those numbers are seriously low.

  3. Huh. I’d usually trust the NY Times for this, but I certainly have no evidence one way or the other.

    All muscle was a bit of an exaggeration — most of them seem seriously muscled in the relevant area for their sport — the cyclist has massive thighs, for example.

  4. The cyclist does? The weightlifter has huge thighs. I have massive thighs, but that’s cause I’m female! Many women carry a lot of weight in their thighs and not as much in their hips as the “typical female”. A good bit of that weight is fat.

    Oh, I understand now what you meant. You didn’t mean “all muscle” in that they have low bodyfat. You just meant that they have a high lean body mass. So the weightlifter is 300 pounds claims to be between 28 and 30%, but trained eyes tell me it looks more like 40%. That gives her a lean body mass of 180 pounds, which is still huge. Anyone else weighing 300 pounds would have an even higher bodyfat. That said, when 22% bodyfat is what’s regarded as healthy for adult women, she isn’t “all muscle”.

    As far as the cyclist – I’m shorter than her and NOT competing in the olympics, but otherwise my stats are quite similar. The overall softness of the body, etc. looks about the same. And trust me, I am not at 12% bodyfat. 22-25%, maybe higher.

  5. Heh. I think I just mean things much vaguer than what you mean — I’m not even sure what ‘lean body mass’ means.

    I do think the cyclist has huge thighs, relative to the rest of her body — the female weightlifter actually looks more proportionate to my eyes, although she also has large thighs (according to her comment, solid muscle, which isn’t surprising given her sport).

    I don’t know what my stats are for any of this, and have no sense of what the various percentages look like on other people. When I said all muscle, that wasn’t meant to be taken literally — I mostly just meant lots of muscle in the relevant areas. They may well be quite soft and flabby in other areas they’re not training. Which is kind of fascinating in its own right — that being an Olympian athlete doesn’t necessarily mean you’re overall in great shape. Weird!

    Almost of my weight is in my belly, which I think is pretty atypical for women, so I really don’t have a good guide there. I have super-muscled calves, for no good reason that I can think of, and medium thighs and small hips and butt (before the baby, I often wore a size 0-2 in pants, despite wearing a 12-14 on top).

    But again, I really doubt the NY Times got their stats wrong. I’m guessing that using our own bodies and visuals of others as guides is probably not at all accurate. My understanding is that almost everyone’s perceptions of others’ weight and body is often widely skewed from reality — I think that’s what the BMI project is trying to correct for, although I don’t know if I think they’re succeeding.

  6. Well, we’ll just have to disagree about the NY Times. I really doubt the NY Times did any verification of those stats. They probably just asked the athletes for their stats. If the athletes knew, they said. I looked for some indication of how they measured the body fat since the only true way to know is autopsy.

    I agree with you on visuals in general, but I also don’t find the BMI project “helpful” in the way you indicate. I’m not a trained eye, and what I noticed about the BMI project is that people of a huge range of weights can “look like” me – with normal clothes on and not enough visual markers to gauge height etc. Someone a foot taller than me and obese can “look like me” in the right lighting and with a front-on picture and the right tailoring. Doesn’t mean the difference wouldn’t be obvious in person, or even in pictures with athletic clothes on. Similarly, 12% bodyfat for women does NOT look remotely like 25% bodyfat, in pictures where you can actually see the body (like the cyclist’s).

  7. The thing that jumped out at me the most was the marathon runner’s resting heart rate: 28 beats per minute?! That’s craziness.

  8. No, 28 beats per minute is a good, healthy resting heart rate for a marathon runner. They have very efficient hearts. When I was running a lot, my heart rate at rest was in the 40’s.

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