Skepticism greets Paul Ryan's claim of 6 percent body fat

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The only shirtless picture of Paul Ryan to surface so far is this grainy vacation shot obtained by TMZ.

Ever since GOP vice presidential candidate and workout fanatic Paul Ryan falsely boasted that he’d run a marathon in fewer than three hours (his time was actually four hours), his self-proclaimed physical feats have come under scrutiny.

Reports surfaced today accusing the athletic congressman of telling yet another big fat lie, only this tale is better characterized as skinny.

An advocate for the P90X workout routine, an intense 90-day workout and nutrition plan combining body-weight training, cardio, yoga and martial arts, Ryan claimed during a Politico interview in 2010 that he kept his body fat between 6 and 8 percent. But doctors and fitness experts say the claim is, if not  impossible, at least highly unlikely.

In fact, 8 percent body fat is the same amount that swimmer Michael Phelps had when he won eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

Martin Rooney, a well-known trainer who works with NFL and MMA athletes, told Slate that a man with less than 10 percent body fat is “lean and shredded. Veins everywhere and really cut up. This is the model and bodybuilder look. So if he is saying he is 6 percent, he is shredded with a six-pack and should have no reason not to do photo shoots everywhere.”

According to Iñigo San Millan, a veteran cycling physiologist who has worked with numerous Tour de France teams, the lowest body fat he’s ever measured on a cyclist was 8.3 percent. That’s at peak fitness, racing shape.

Dr. Ross Andersen, Canada Research Chair in physical activity and health at McGill University in Montreal, told The Globe and Mail that Ryan likely has between 10 and 12 percent body fat, which he described as “really great.”

Ryan has also claimed to have made 38 trips up Colorado’s 14,000-foot-high peaks, or “fourteeners,” a claim that’s been greeted with skepticism among veteran climbers.

The Ryan campaign has yet to release any “summit shots” of Ryan or any shirtless photos. That hasn’t stopped people from looking. “Ryan shirtless” topped the charts of google searches recently.