What Is Skinny Fat?
To describe someone as skinny fat seems like a paradox. How can someone be two very different things? The term is often used jokingly; someone who is a normal healthy weight might say they are a fat person on the inside because of their love of food or for having what they consider to be a big appetite. However, that’s not really what skinny fat refers to.
What Does Skinny Fat Really Mean?
In a nutshell, skinny fat means that someone has too little muscle and too much body fat. There is a medical term for this type of body – metabolically obese normal weight (MONW). Many people think that having a normal weight means that they are healthy and fit but the idea of skinny fat turns this notions on its head. It is possible for someone who is overweight to be fitter and healthier than someone who is skinny fat.
What Does Skinny Fat Look Like?
Skinny fat is more common amongst women than men. This likely has a lot to do with the fact that women’s bodies tend to carry more fat in general and men are more likely to practice exercises that build muscle mass. Women often prefer dieting and restricting certain foods in an attempt to reach their weight goals, neglecting the need to exercise regularly. In general, a person will become skinny fat when they focus too much on their size, shape and weight rather than their overall body fat, muscle mass and health. We’ve all seen someone who is skinny fat though we may not have recognized that they are skinny fat at the time. Here are some tell-tale signs:
- Skinny fat women tend to have more cellulite than women who have a healthy balance of muscle and fat
- Uneven fat distribution. Fat will often accumulate around the belly, creating the familiar potbelly look
- Fat may also gather around the butt. Skinny fat men may end up with a “womanly” look to their butt and hips. Women, on the other hand, will have saggy or drooping butt cheeks.
- Chipmunk cheeks and double or triple chins! Fat will also gather on the face, jawline and neck of skinny fat people
- Man boobs! Skinny fat men are at risk of developing the dreaded man boobs due to too much fat gathering around the chest and breast area
- Cankles or undefined legs are a common skinny fat trait. Skinny fat people may have thin legs which lack definition meaning their calves and ankles blend in to one piece of leg
- Arms lacking definition with wobbly upper arms
How Do People Become Skinny Fat?
Three key ways of becoming skinny fat have been identified:
- A restrictive diet which severely reduces a person’s calorie intake
- Doing only cardio or an excessive amount of cardio exercise
- An exercise regimen that contains little or no resistance training
Why Is It So Bad To Be Skinny Fat?
Being skinny fat may seem harmless but it can actually disguise a multitude of serious health concerns. As we mentioned, just because someone is a normal weight, it does not mean that they are a picture of health. Skinny fat people often do not exercise enough which is crucial for maintaining good health. Side effects of being skinny fat include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar levels
- High cholesterol
- Insulin resistance
- Early onset heart disease
- Chronic inflammation
How to Combat Skinny Fat
There are ways to prevent yourself from becoming skinny fat or to reverse the physical effects of being skinny fat.
- Limit the amount of cardio you do. Cardio exercises burn fat but they can also cause muscle loss when done to excess
- Change your diet. Cut out high-sugar fruits and refined carbs like white bread and pasta. Replace these foods with leafy vegetables, lean meat, fish, legumes, eggs and whole grain foods
- Cut back on your soda and alcohol consumption. These liquids contain many hidden sugars and carbs which will lead to fat gain, especially around the belly area
- Take up strength training exercises like squats, arm curls and lifting weights
- Make sure you get enough sleep and rest. A lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain so make sure to get plenty of shut eye if you want to avoid becoming skinny fat!
Feeling better about your health or fitness shouldn’t be a chore. If you ever need some extra support, come by BEFIT to speak with one of our trainers or simply fill out a Free Consultation Request by clicking the link and a fitness professional will reach out to you within 24 hours.