Ask the Coach” is the column in which Wolfgang Unsöld answers your questions. The book of the same name was published by Riva Verlag and Available right here on Amazon.
Question: Hi Wolfgang, I took part in your YPSI Module 4 seminar on skinfold measurement in November last year and since then I have been wondering how you trace the conclusions from the thickness of the wrinkles to corresponding hormonal fluctuations or dominances. Today I met a colleague in Berlin who also attended a number of seminars with you and she said that you once spoke of scientific evidence about correlations between wrinkles and hormones. Do you have any papers or studies on this topic that you could point me to so that I can understand the whole thing even better? It would be fantastic if you could help me here. I'd love to work with the YPSI software and your supplement protocols, but first I'd like to better understand how one relates to the other. Kind regards, Timo K.
WU: Timo, there is a whole range of scientific evidence that dates back to the 1980s. Everything that is relevant scientific evidence is listed on several pages in the list of sources at the end of my first book "Your Best Training".
In order to take a fundamental look at the procedure for matching nutrition and supplementation to the skinfold measurement, we start with the topic of individual body fat distribution. This is known to everyone. Not everyone stores body fat in one area at the same rate compared to other areas and loses body fat in one area at the same rate compared to other areas.
With regard to the individual body fat distribution, there are two primary types of distribution, on the one hand the "pear", these are people who primarily store body fat on the legs and build it up faster there and break it down more slowly than on the upper body. On the other hand, the "apple", these are people who primarily store body fat in the middle of the body and build it up faster there and break it down more slowly than on the arms and legs. In addition, there are many sub-types, such as individuals who store more body fat on their hamstrings than their front thighs, or individuals who store more body fat on their backs. The key point here is there is an individual body fat distribution.
The next question is "Why is body fat distribution individual?". One answer could be: The body fat distribution is arbitrary, i.e. by chance. Basically, in biology there are very few and maybe even no coincidences. Processes, especially on the biochemical level, are clearly structured. action and reaction. Many of these processes have now been very well researched. 150 years ago nobody knew about the hormone insulin and its effect on blood sugar. Today this is known and researched and is used specifically in the medical field for diabetes. Vitamin D was also unknown 100 years ago, but it is now the best-known vitamin with a clearly documented effect. And 50 years ago it was not known that "belly fat" is an independent gland that can also produce the stress hormone cortisol.
Thus, it can be generally assumed that body fat distribution is not arbitrary, but that there is a biochemical process behind it that regulates it. One can also assume that this process has not yet been grasped by science in depth and breadth. The first research I'm aware of dates back to the 1980's where abdominal and hip body fat was correlated with glycemic management and metabolic syndrome. The references to this are in the references of my first book.
So two points are clear:
1. Body fat distribution is individual.
2. Body fat distribution is based on biochemical processes.
Point 2 has certainly not yet been adequately grasped in depth and breadth by science. Here it is crucial that science is important, but in the field of nutrition and training it is never the initiator of innovation. Science proves something that has been common in practice for 10-20+ years. There are many examples of this. Counterexamples very few.
From a practical point of view, it is therefore crucial to draw possible conclusions based on the folds that have been scientifically examined in detail up to now and then to prove these conclusions in practice. First in individual cases and then globally.
A simple example is we measure a person's hip crease, the reading on day 1 is 13.0mm. Based on the YPSI skinfold measurement, the hip fold correlates with blood sugar management - and not with the hormone insulin as is often assumed, since this is only one aspect of blood sugar management. In the following month we now increase the carbohydrate consumption to 500g per day. A quantity that is certainly too high for most. Based on the scientific evidence and the assumption that the hip fold correlates with blood sugar management and the amount of carbohydrate of 500g per day is certainly too high to be optimally metabolized, we can assume that the hip fold increases disproportionately high. The second measurement can assume a measured value of 30.0mm. Conversely, we recommend massively reducing carbohydrate consumption and only eating carbohydrates at one meal per week. The weekly carbohydrate consumption drops from 3500g to about 200-500g. The expected effect is that the hip fold will drop to around 18.0mm within a month.
The big advantage of the skinfold measurement is that it is also individual, for example if we increase the carbohydrates to 500g per day and the hip fold increases from 13.0mm to 15.0mm within a month, this is a sign that this person metabolizes carbohydrates very well at this time, so it only makes sense to reduce carbohydrate consumption only slightly or even maintain carbohydrate consumption by increasing training volume in the coming phases.
Based on the definition of the term "science", this is also a "scientific" approach.
Science, the activity in which a fact is systematically described and examined using objective and comprehensible methods.
I've done over 15,000 skinfold measurements over the past 10 years, that's an average of over 32 measurements per week for 46 weeks per year. Scientific practice is the analysis and correlation of skinfolds based on previous scientific evidence and with constant, reproducible changes based on modifications in supplementation, diet and training. This practice is an essential part of my work. And the basis of the YPSI skinfold measurement.
The YPSI skinfold measurement as a tool for determining nutrition and supplement strategies has been around for less than 20 years. Skinfold measurement is still very young. The first seminar I attended in 2009 and the content that was taught then, compared to what I use today in the form of the YPSI skinfold measurement, is very different and further developed.
A simple historical example that I like to use is the first car patented by Carl Benz in 1886. This first car had three wheels. However, it quickly became clear that four wheels make more sense in practice. And Gottlieb Daimler built the first car with four wheels. This is simple innovation based on real-world experience. Innovation is an ongoing process, mostly based on practical experience, and even today, 130 years after the development of the car, it is still constant. Not least through the invention of a roadworthy electric car.
The skinfold measurement also goes through exactly this process.
Finally, it's important to note that skinfold measurement is certainly not the new "holy grail" of body fat loss. There are enough people who have lost body fat without skinfold measurement. Just as there are enough people who have lost body fat with high-carb and not low-carb, and with oatmeal instead of meat for breakfast. The decisive question here is: “How easy, quick and efficient was this?”. And this is where the skinfold measurement is crucial as it is a very good and objective accounting tool.
The skinfold measurement enables even more precise accounting of status and progress and thus the possibility of controlling nutrition and supplementation in an even more success-oriented manner. For more progress based on the individual feedback of the measurement with less effort.
Particularly in a personal training scenario where exercise and nutrition are rarely the focus and priority of everyday life, skinfold measurement as the primary form of accounting enables efficient and continuous progress in body fat loss, muscle building, strength building and energy level increases.
Good luck with the application of the YPSI skinfold measurement in practice!
Here to the article " The YPSI skinfold measurement - The best accounting for personal trainers "
Here for the YPSI trainer search with trainers throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland and beyond to carry out a YPSI skinfold measurement
For information on seminars on YPSI skinfold measurement click here
Image: The Harpenden Skinfold Caliper used for YPSI skinfold measurement.