What Is Skinny Fat and Are You in Danger? (Part 1)

Skinny Fat

Are you someone who hasn’t worked out or lifted a weight in like…forever? Do you find yourself feeling light-headed after mild exercise? When 3pm comes, do sugar cravings play havoc with your everyday willpower? Can you do a single full depth push-up (nose touches floor), five if you’re Male?

Yet when you look in the mirror – you don’t look overweight at all?

In fact, step on the scales, and you’re what most would consider a healthy body weight.

You, my friend, may be what is known as ‘skinny fat’.

The contradictory term has been around for years and that it is now affecting possibly 1 in 4 normal weight people, doctors now refer to it as MONW – ‘metabolically obese normal weight’.

As confusing as the term maybe – there are serious health consequences for those who are skinny fat – so this personal trainer feels it’s important to be aware of it and what it is.

What is Skinny Fat?

In simple terms, skinny fat refers to someone who looks healthy and fit on the surface, but due to a lack of resistance training or a poor diet, has a slew of health problems brewing on the inside.

It’s like being in the eye of the storm – while you’re inside, everything seems fine – yet all around you wreaks of chaos and concern.
You most likely have a pant size that’s readily available at department stores, your BMI is under 25 and the scales say you’re a healthy weight.

Unfortunately, today when it comes to health, we put too much weight on weight, rather than getting stronger and moving better.
It’s a common misconception that being ‘overweight’ means you are unhealthy.

You see, a person may not have a lot of fat stored up overall, but what they do have is the most dangerous kind. So, a person may not be ‘overweight’, but their organs could be coated with visceral fat – fat that sits around the organs, which is genetically different from that of subcutaneous fat – the fat that sits under the skin.

This can cause metabolic syndrome – when someone has several conditions – high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, insulin resistance that put him or her at a high risk for heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.

Research2 shows people can be metabolically obese at a normal body weight, meaning they aren’t overweight by medical standards but still suffer from some of the same metabolic complications as their obese counterparts, like insulin resistance, high cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure.

This is what’s concerning compared to the visibly heavy set as it would lead to a delayed diagnosis of any underlying health conditions.
And what is the most common connection to those who are skinny fat?

A lack of muscle mass.

This is important because muscle mass is the backbone of good metabolism.

Meaning building and maintaining muscle, is just as, (if not, more) important to your health and longevity as losing fat and being ‘skinny’.

How did we get this way?

Most skinny fat people diet or restrict calories, are doing excessive amounts of cardio or something along the lines of circuit style programs in an attempt to lose fat.

I’m not going to deep dive into why those typical programs are ineffective in this blog – which are designed for your average person looking to lose weight – as it’s not the purpose behind this blog, what ends up happening to the average person who is attempting to lose weight using these programs is that yes, they lose some fat, but along with that fat is muscle loss.

Yep, ‘weight’ loss is exactly what they get.

The three main contributors to skinny fat are:

  • Minimal weightlifting but high rep training focus
  • Severe calorie deficits
  • arge amounts of cardio

So what’s the solution?

Well, as they say in the TV biz, tune back in next week – where I tackle part 2 – what to DO if you’re skinny fat

Speak to you next week.

  1. news.umich.edu/hefty-people-can-have-healthy-hearts/
  2. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27552473/