The Skinny on Skinny Fat
(Decoding and Reversing ‘Skinny Fat’)
When you think of a skinny person you don’t necessarily think of someone who is in medical jeopardy, however, you can be thin and unhealthy. People who are skinny fat may look slim and healthy at first glance, but weight ain’t nothing but a number. So, what determines this skinny but unhealthy phenomena? There are several elements at play in this scenario that you need to know.
The kind of fat you have on your body definitely affects your health. Everybody needs a certain amount. Gaiam Fitness suggests that women in the 20-40 age range have a body fat percentage of 21-33 percent while men the same age should have 8-19 percent. The scale may show your weight in the normal range for your height, but your body fat percentage could be very high. This imbalance gives you the dreaded skinny fat body.
If you are looking for the Grey’s Anatomy verbiage for this problem, the official medical term for skinny fat is “metabolically obese normal weight”. It essentially means that despite the number on the scale, you have too much fat and not enough muscle. MONW can affect up to ¼ of normal weight people, according to a study done by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
This JAMA study also found that about half of overweight Americans have healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, while slim people with normal weights are at risk for heart disease. This proves that you can’t always judge a book by its cover as BMI numbers can sometimes be misleading. Underneath their slim exterior, skinny fat people may also have health issues such as high blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, among others.
Another serious skinny fat issue is “visceral fat”, which is a layer of fat around the organs that cause chronic disease. This fat, which is concentrated near the abdomen and often called a muffin top or pot belly, impacts the body’s production of hormones. It can also induce insulin resistance, which can cause problems like gluten intolerance and diabetes. Dr. Daniel Neides, medical director at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, reported to Time magazine that he has seen many cases, “I see these people all the time. On the outside, they look incredibly healthy, but on the inside, they’re a wreck.”
Wondering if you are carrying some of this dead weight? Annals of Internal Medicine published a study which claims that one tell-tale sign is if you carry a little bit of extra weight around the belly area, or if you can grab onto a set of love handles. If you can pinch an inch (or maybe several) and you are afraid you may be skating on thin ice, there are changes you can make in order to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other health concerns.
Making sure you eat a balanced diet is key. Cut the sugar and processed foods which can lead to vitamin deficiencies that can hinder your body’s hormones and blood sugar. Adding protein to your diet can help you add muscle mass, which will replace the fat. Rather than dramatically reduce your calorie intake, plan meals higher in proteins and healthy fats, and lower in carbs and sugar, and eat often in order to boost the metabolism. Combine this with getting enough shut-eye and keeping your stress levels down, which is not only a load off, but also key to keeping your metabolism in gear.
You don’t have to wear yourself thin in order to get on track. The tendency, in order to lose weight, is to eat a very low-calorie diet and increase cardio. However, that may be the wrong plan of action and can even have the opposite result, causing the skinny fat conundrum. Because skinny fat is defined by fat to muscle ratio, people who have this body type need to use weight and resistance training to add muscle mass and reduce fat. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, endurance training interferes with the body’s ability to build muscles. Many people looking to drop pounds avoid lifting weights because they fear it will make them become too bulky, however, Will Torres, owner of Willspace Gym in NYC, told GQ that the fastest way to slim down is to do more strength training instead of all cardio. He also suggests switching up workouts in order to cause muscle confusion.
Being sculpted and looking good is always a great goal. However, in this case, what’s on the inside is what really counts as the skinny fat body composition can be dangerous. Luckily, if you throw your weight behind the right fitness regimen and lifestyle, changing your body composition is within reach.