It’s an easy statement to gloss over: Someone (in this case, Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan) claims his body fat is in the 6-to-8 percent range and you sort of nod and take it in stride. But then … wait? You think, Isn’t that super low? Like, shockingly low?
That seems to be the conclusion Slate reporter Bill Gifford came to this week, after Ryan’s claims from two years ago about maintaining an ultra-lean 6-to-8-percent-body-fat measurement began resurfacing in headlines and editorials and Internet memes. It sounded … off. Especially for a guy who previously misspoke (lied?) about his marathon PR and has rarely been seen without a shirt on; after all, only one somewhat blurry photo of a shirtless Paul Ryan on vacation comes up in Google searches, “which makes it all the more strange that nobody has taken a closer look,” Gifford writes. And so he did.
I won’t give it all away—you can read Gifford’s full assessment here—but the gist of it is that while no one knows for sure what Ryan’s body-fat percentage is (the congressman has yet to publicly subject himself to a caliper measurement, and his spokesperson hasn’t commented on the matter), the whole thing is a little fishy. Six to 8 percent body fat is incredibly heard to maintain—we’re talking Olympian bodies here, and those guys train for hours a day. A trainer who Gifford talks to says that kind of body-fat percentage would yield a guy with “veins everywhere and really cut up. This is the model and bodybuilder look. So if he is saying he is 6 percent, he is shredded with a six-pack and should have no reason not to do photo shoots everywhere.” Hmmm …
Gifford has about 1,500 other words of circumstantial evidence in his piece, none of which makes Paul Ryan seem very credible. But it raises some questions, like, what does this guy think he stands to gain from fudging about these kinds of things? And has no one sat him down to say, “Look, dude. You’re in the national spotlight now. Every single thing you say will be looked at under a microscope, then fact-checked—and fact-checked again”?
True, Ryan made the body-fat claims before he was a White House contender, but there was the marathon gaffe last month and questions about his purported mountaineering record just this week. I smell a pattern here.
Mr. Ryan, you’re in excellent shape—we all know that. Kudos on all that P90Xing you do on Capitol Hill. But do yourself a favor—check your macho fitness fibs at the door. They aren’t doing you any favors this election season.