Ask Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy

Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy are Dr. Adam Shafran and Lee Kantor, two guys in Atlanta who talk fitness online and over the air. We asked them to answer a few reader questions and invite you to send in your questions to tips @ crunchgear dot com with the subject line “FITNESS.” Include your geographical location. We’ll run these Q&A sessions regularly.

What’s the best way to tell if I’m fat? BMI, Waist size, Neck size?

The gold standard for measuring body fat is a DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan. A DEXA scan measures your body fat (and bone density) directly with a scan of your whole body with two different low-dose x-rays.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI is an indirect, inexpensive, easy to perform yet fairly reliable indicator of your body fat.

A high waist circumference correlates directly with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and cardiovascular disease CVD in patients with BMI over 25.

There is also new research citing neck circumference as a measuring tool for obesity. A wide neck circumference is associated with obesity-related conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes and hypertension.

The absolute best way to tell if you’re fat is the mirror. The mirror test is done by jumping up and down naked in front of the biggest mirror you have. If it takes more than 7 seconds for your body to stop jiggling then it’s time to drop a few pounds.

How do I avoid the Freshman 15 without giving up pizza, wings or pizza?

Believe it or not most college freshman gain only 5 pounds not 15 (or 50 like the Fat Guy). The main reason freshmen struggle with their weight is because of the drastic change to their routine from life with mom and dad. College life is the beginning of many new freedoms especially in the eating and drinking department. The best way to avoid gaining added weight in college is by being more active. Sign up for intramural sports. Also, find out where the closest gym is on campus and put it on your daily routine.

How can you tell the difference between a fad diet and a really good diet?

A former client of mine would tell me that whenever he needed to lose some weight he would eat only protein and skip the carbs for a couple of months. This always seemed so odd to me. If this high protein – low carb diet worked so well then why would he ever stop doing it. A “good diet” is one that prioritizes optimal health before weight loss. Fad diets focus strictly on weight loss. There are many diets out there and many theories on why each diet is more effective in losing weight. However, there are very few that focus on maintaining health. Reducing caloric intake, increasing fiber content, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, increasing omega 3 fatty acids consumption, increasing the consumption of monounsaturated fats, and decreasing processed food consumption, should be the foundation of a “good diet.”

I have bad knees – what exercises can I do to burn calories?

As we age the cartilage in our knees slowly degenerates. So as the condition worsens, you might have to switch activities from higher impact ones like basketball or running to lower impact activities like swimming or biking. The Fat Guy and I checked out some cool shoes to absorb lots of impact called Kangoo shoes. They look like snow boots and put you up about 8 inches in the air. You can walk or run in them as they absorb most of the impact. If you can handle all the added attention, check them out at

What’s the deal with Megan Fox’s thumbs?
Megan Fox suffers from a clubbed thumb or brachydactyly. Relax it’s not contagious, she probably inherited this trait from a distant relative. About 1 out of 1000 people suffers from this cosmetic imperfection. Who is looking at her thumbs anyway?