Ask The Trainer #56 – Achieving Paper Thin Skin


Hi Chad,

I have a puffy body due excess water retention in my body and thick skin. Please suggest what to do for paper/thin skin and water retention in the body.

Thank you,
Irfan Qassim


Hi, Irfan. It’s not at all uncommon for people to mistake excess body fat for water retention. I was guilty of this back when I competed in my first couple of bodybuilding competitions. But, I finally discovered the proper approach with my nutrition and achieve “paper thin” skin.

As long as there’s a fat between your muscles and skin, it’ll hide any detail, regardless of any water you might hold.

Based on my personal experience, a body fat level of 7-10% is best. This is the optimal range for hormone production while also keeping a “ripped” appearance. The more your body fat rises above 10%, the more your muscular definition will diminish.

Below 7%, you risk sabotaging your muscle building hormones and immune system because you will be in a depleted state.

Diet Is Key

Getting your body fat down to single digits requires careful planning with your nutrition. You must create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than your body needs.

Chad ShawThis is the ONLY way to get your body to tap into its stored body fat reserves for expendable energy.

For example, let’s you require 2,200 calories per day to remain at your current body fat percentage. If you suddenly reduce your calorie intake to 1,500 calories per day for a few weeks, you’re definitely going to lose pounds of body fat!

The way to create a calorie deficit is by substituting higher calorie foods with lower calorie choices. For example, substitute processed meats, beef, and dark meat for chicken breasts, fish, turkey breasts, or bison.

You can also consume less starchy carbohydrates. These include bread, cereals, potatoes, rice, etc. Also, increase your consumption of lower calorie fibrous carbohydrates like vegetables. The leafy green kind is especially beneficial!

If you typically drink sugary beverages like soda, juice, or milk, replace them with non-calorie beverages. For example, water, unsweetened tea, and coffee. And for sure try to eliminate alcohol.

You’ll notice positive changes in your body within a few weeks, if not days, by making these simple changes.

Read Labels

Train yourself to read food labels. Why? Because not all calories are created equal! If you see fructose, fructose corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, levulose, D-fructofuranose, D-fructose, or D-arabino-hexulose, put it back on the shelf!

When it comes to fat gain, fructose is like sugar on steroids! You see, your muscles do not possess the necessary enzymes to convert fructose into muscle glycogen. So, there is much less chance your muscles will burn fructose as an energy source.

Instead, your liver will convert what it needs from fructose into liver glycogen. The rest will convert into triglycerides. These are released back into the bloodstream. From there it can be shuttled to the fat cells and stored as adipose tissue (body fat). In other words, fructose is the perfect ingredient for body fat synthesis.

Performing some regular aerobic activity will help hasten the fat burning process. However, with anaerobic exercise, like weight lifting, the body’s energy demands are immediate. It doesn’t have time to receive enough oxygen to metabolize body fat for energy.

Instead, your body metabolizes sugar as an energy source. In short, aerobic activity will help you burn more body fat than weight lifting. At least in the short term.

So, incorporate 20 minutes of cardiovascular training 3 times per week.

Doing high-intensity intervals (HIIT), where you alternate high-intensity intervals with low-intensity intervals, would be optimal for fat loss.

However, I would not do cardio on the same day you train with weights. If so, you risk altering your growth hormone to cortisol ratio in a negative way. This will most definitely work against you.

Finally, once you’ve obtained a low enough body fat level you can maintain, you may be able to temporarily further enhance your definition by limiting sodium consumption for a few days.

Generally speaking, as long as you drink plenty of water, excess sodium will get flushed out of your system and not be much of a problem. Additionally, you also lose a significant amount of sodium through perspiration when you exercise.

A Word of Caution

Do not think that limiting water consumption will make you hold less water underneath your skin. The exact opposite reaction will occur. The more water you drink, the less water your body will retain. Your body holds water as a survival mechanism when it detects it’s in danger of becoming dehydrated.

If you can apply these ideals long-term, I think it’s safe to say you will experience the type of results you’re after.

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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