Just Big-Boned

For the longest time, there was a scale in the bathroom. It was a congenital liar, and the only purpose it served was to collect an impassable moat of dust-bunnies at its perimeter. As a Scientific Instrument of Measure, it lacked certain features – such as consistency. For instance, one would find he weighed more, or less, depending on whether he stood on two legs or only one. It also seemed that, when clouds appeared on the horizon, one’s weight changed as well. By many pounds.

Whilst shopping for exercise equipment, DTs (who likes Neat Things) came across a bathroom scale which was a Neat Thing indeed. It not only measured one’s weight, but also would tell one his body fat percentage, and made no claim to being a barometer. Money changed hands.

Arriving home, DTs found through this Neat Thing that he weighed 206.0 pounds and had a whopping 19% body fat percentage. Simple math dictated that on his 6 foot four inch frame, fully 39+ pounds was fat. Eeeewww.

Not a problem. Charles Atlas says he can make me the Hero of the Beach in only fifteen minutes a day. I’ll gamble the stamp and send for his system today!.

As time went by, exercise continued, and weighing occurred when and if. Both weight and fat percentage fluctuated, of course, with hard numbers – but there were no hard numbers for muscle mass, which was the object of it all. It would have been really neat if the scale flashed, “Muscle: 90%” or whatever. Well, yeah, okay, not 90%, but you know…

Subtraction, of course. Body weight – Fat % = “not fat” weight. But that weight includes things like bone (exercise wasn’t going to make me any taller), internal organs (hopefully not going anywhere) and blood (rushing around a bit more, but weight unaffected.) Deduct the weights of these items, and one is left with the muscle, right?

This is the sort of button-sorting and bean-counting that wins Nobel Prizes, folks.

How much do organs weigh? Not so easy to find out, but find out I did, by combing through many an autopsy report. Data had to come from adult males, of course. Abnormal data from sufferers of certain diseases, e.g. hepatomegaly (enlarged liver) were discarded.

Cue Marty Feldman: “Abby-someone.”

Organ Low Grams High Grams Avg Grams Avg Lbs
Brain 1080 1640 1360 3.00
Right Lung 210 835 522.5 1.15
Left Lung 205 810 507.5 1.12
Heart 180 465 322.5 0.71
Spleen 89 316 202.5 0.45
Liver 903 1890 1396.5 3.08
Thyroid 10 50 30 0.07
Kidneys 153 560 356.5 0.79
Blood 453.59 453.59 453.59 12.00
L&R Suprarenals 17 38 27.5 0.06
Testes 38 97 67.5 0.15
Prostate 35 80 57.5 0.13
Pancreas 112 190 151 0.33
Organ Weight 3485.59 7424.59 5455.09 23.03

Okay – taking the averages, then, from his 206.0 pounds DTs may subtract 23.03 right off the bat for internal organs.

Does this mean the remainder, Body Weight – Fat % – Organs = Rippling Mountain of Muscle? No indeed, for our handy little chart is missing stuff. Bones. Skin. Intestines. Oogy things. Hey, if I find that data, in it goes, but until then, what to do?

One would expect an easy time to find these weights. One would be wrong. Bones are not weighed at autopsy, and cadaver bones are dry, useless things without marrow. What was needed was the weight of a skeleton which is functional. Oddly enough, one walked across the TV screen just then for Calvin Klein or some such.

Aha! If we had someone who was nothing but skin and bones, no fat or muscle to speak of, and subtracted the organ weight, we would know how much… well, how much skin and bones weighed. We’d need height data, because obviously a tall skinny person will weigh more than a short skinny person. Calvin Klein models would not do – male and female were bound to be somewhat different. I found my data in contemporary cases of severe anorexia nervosa, and from liberated Axis POWs:

height in. weight lbs lbs per in
72 120 1.67
64 80 1.25
60 101 1.68
74 81 1.09
72 88 1.22
63 68 1.08
72 136 1.89
76 95 1.25
73 112 1.53
72 96 1.33
72 90 1.25
72 98 1.36
63 80 1.27
62 80 1.29
64 47 0.73
67 112 1.67
69 100 1.45
63 95 1.51
66 91 1.38
68.73 91.47 1.36

Now, these folks had all their organs in, of course. For the most part, organs don’t really change much due to height, so let’s remove their weight. 91.47 minus 23.03 gives 68.44, and here we have a neat generalization. Notice the average height.

It would seem, empirically at least, that each inch of height is 0.9957 pounds of weight in bones, skin, and viscera. Obviously this is an average – one has no viscera in one’s legs, for instance.

In general, then, one could conceivably multiply his height by 0.996 (or 1) and then add 23.03, and call this number “everything BUT muscle”. Subtract that from total weight, and there you have it. Muscles.

Wait a minute… I missed lymph. I’ll be right back…


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