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So… DOES Muscle Weigh More Than Fat?

Understanding why Trump’s measurements might really rival those belonging to professional athletes

As you may have heard, the results of Donald Trump’s first — and much-anticipated — periodic physical examination as President of the United States are in: He was measured at 6-foot-3 and weighed in at 239 pounds (just one pound shy of obese).

The internet, of course, was quick to scrutinize his measurements. Both Deadspin and Sports Illustrated published lists of elite athletes who are apparently comparable in size to Trump — including Tim Tebow (6-foot-2, 236 pounds), Kam Chancellor (6-foot-3, 232 pounds) and Bo Scarbrough (6-foot-2, 235 pounds).

And naturally, Twitter got involved:

But while Trump might be in “excellent health,” at least according to White House doctor Ronny Jackson, no one thinks he is somehow in the same league as the muscle-bound athletes who share his measurements. Which spurs the question: Just what the fuck is going on here?

One seemingly-sensible suggestion is that the difference could be because muscle weighs more than fat. And according to Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, that’s pretty much dead-on. “By volume, muscle weighs more than fat,” Hunnes explains. “A two-inch by two-inch box of muscle weighs more than a two-inch by two-inch box of fat.” More specifically, a pound of fat takes up about four times as much space as a pound of muscle.

This explains why a flabby Trump might have the same basic height and weight measurements as a professional athlete, but a completely different figure: “A 200-pound overweight person would likely have a completely different body shape than a 200-pound fit person,” Hunnes says. “Think of Captain America as the fit person — he has muscular shoulders, a slim waist and muscular legs. On the flip side, an overweight person [like Trump] would likely have a thicker and wider waist.”

To put it in more simple terms, picture a balloon stuffed with a pound of lean steak side by side with a balloon stuffed with a pound of sloppy oatmeal.

Which settles it: Trump’s height and weight could certainly compare to those of an NFL tight end. But that certainly doesn’t mean his actual physical shape does (and for obvious reasons).