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DK Metcalf is absurdly ripped, but his body fat probably isn’t *that* low

The NFL Combine reportedly measured him at 1.6 percent body fat, which merits some skepticism.

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So, let’s talk about body fat. Particularly this guy’s (on the left):

That’s former Ole Miss wide receiver DK Metcalf.

He has an extremely impressive physique, and put it on display during the measurement session of the combine. The results were ... stunning.

Of course, 1.6 percent body fat isn’t healthy.

Average body fat for a person is around 20 percent. Athletes often get down to between 6 and 13. Male bodybuilders sometimes get down to around 3 or 4 percent. Wide receivers were found by one study to check in around 12ish.

It’s literally not healthy to be under 3 per a nutrition professor at University of Waterloo in Canada.

Professor Mourtzakis wanted to emphasize the risks associated with an extremely low body fat: “While it is possible for some athletes to reach 2 percent body fat, I would certainly not support this approach for athletes. Achieving this range presents health risks, including increased risk of infection and injury. This approach often supports unhealthy eating behaviors and patterns that are reflective of disordered eating behaviors.”

When asked if 1.6 was even possible for a football player, a college athletic trainer sent me this:

“He would be anorexic. That’s not healthy, and I highly doubt that it’s possible for him to perform at a Division I level with that body fat percentage. The lowest BFP out of my athletes is 6 percent. I can’t imagine what 1.5 percent looks like.”

I will spare you the Google image search results for bodybuilders with 1 percent body fat. They were quite a bit beyond that workout photo of Metcalf, in terms of the things you can see beneath their skin.

The machine might’ve also just given a bad reading too.

For the last 13 years, the combine has done its body fat percentage tests with a machine called a Bod Pod (not the caliper method you may have experienced at your dietician). You go into this egg-lookin’ thing and they alter the air pressure around you. Then it reads the difference with the athlete in and out of the pod, and they figure out your body volume from there.

Here’s a demonstration:

But the Bod Pod does have a margin of error, per the National Institute of Fitness and Sports, and it can be as much as 5 percent in either direction, if not more per this research.

But what a college athletic trainer said it’s more likely to waiver 2.5 percent in either direction.

Metcalf does have a bodybuilding background, which helps explain his physique.

In an interview for Metcalf’s new Under Armour endorsement, his father said his son was pressing 50 pounds and squatting 100 at the age of five years old. He could reportedly power clean 350 pounds as a 19-year-old.

(An accompanying press release made sure to state “his dad quickly realized bands were more age appropriate than weights.”)

Metcalf has basically been doing nothing but working out since a mid-October neck injury, and because we haven’t seen him in a while, the ripped look came as a surprise. But for Metcalf to train for the combine and hope to perform at an NFL level, he’s probably closer to 4 percent. Because he probably wouldn’t be able to function at a high level for very long if he was at 1.6 percent.

The medical complications of a very low body fat involve almost every body function and include the cardiovascular, endocrine, reproductive, skeletal, gastrointestinal, renal, and central nervous systems with the possibility to develop conditions such as heart damage, gastrointestinal problems, shrinkage of internal organs, immune system abnormalities, disorders of the reproductive system, loss of muscle tissue, damage to the nervous system, abnormal growths, and even death.

With a background as a high-level athlete, and a father who is an athlete as well, it is doubtful that Metcalf would choose to risk his physical efficiency during what amounts to the biggest job interview of his life. He, like all football players, is already going to face enough questions about his health and durability during the draft process anyway.

This might be the first time a wide receiver has ever had to assure NFL general managers his body fat percentage is actually a little higher than what the test said, though.