While Mitt Romney’s secret thoughts on the 47 percent are dominating the news cycle, on Monday there was another bombshell story that could potentially decide the presidential race: Paul Ryan probably lied about his body fat percentage. Ryan once claimed that he has 6 to 8 percent body fat, but an exhaustive report by Slate reveals that would put him in a class with the world’s most elite athletes. Of course, most Americans shave off at least fifteen pounds anytime they’re asked to give their weight, but coming from a vice-presidential nominee, this is serious business. Especially when Ryan’s also been accused of lying about his marathon time, the number of times he’s hiked Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, and his skiing abilities (as well as some stuff in his convention speech).
For comparison, some Olympic athletes might have 6 to 8 percent body fat, but Tour de France cyclists only get down to about 8 or 9 percent before major races. The widely reported figure can be traced back to a 2010 interview Ryan did with Politico, in which he brags, “I keep my body fat between 6 and 8 percent.”
The idea that Ryan is keeping such close tabs on his body fat percentage is problematic too. Obtaining an accurate measurement is difficult, and Men’s Health workout columnist Lou Schuler wonders why an “objectively fit congressman” would go through the trouble. “I don’t know mine, and I write about this stuff for a living,” he tells Slate.
Does Ryan just have a tendency to exaggerate, or is it possible that all of his fitness claims are total fabrications? If he’s just a skinny guy who enjoys sleeping in and curling up with an Ayn Rand novel and a box of donuts, that would explain why the hunt for shirtless photos of Ryan only turned up one unremarkable pre-P90X photo. At least, it’s more plausible than the idea that the Internet let us down.