We all know the term “skinny fat” which sounds a bit contradicting and confusing. How can you be both? And what does it actually mean?
The pandemic has left everyone freezing gym memberships, and if you haven’t jumped on the home training train, you’ve likely lost muscle tone and maybe gained a few extra pounds. It’s common for people to joke, “I’m thin fat now,” referring to that weight gain, even though technically they’re not overweight – but being “thin fat” can actually be a cause of some serious health problems all over the place Be line.
As it turns out, thin fat is a real and serious health problem. Outwardly, you may look healthy, but you are putting your body at risk. Here is everything you need to know.
What does “thin fat” mean?
“Being thin fat means you are within the normal weight range when you check your weight on a BMI calculator or weight chart, but your body fat percentage is above the normal range.” Dr. Stacie Stephenson, MD, certified nutrition specialist and CEO of VibrantDoc.
In other words, people can have a normal BMI but body fat percentage close to obesity.
“This is only possible if your lean muscle mass is below normal. So being thin actually means that you have too much body fat and too little muscle mass, ”explains Dr. Stephenson. “The official name for this condition is sarcopenic obesity, sarcopenic refers to muscle wasting. A mild case of “thin fat” may not be severe enough to get this diagnosis, but it could go in that direction without intervention. “
Related: 30 Habits Healthy People Live By, Because It’s About More Than Just Diet And Exercise
How do people become thin fat?
Do you know these people who seem to be constantly eating fries and sweets and burgers and fries, never exercising and still not overweight? These are the people who are most likely to be thin and fat.
“People become thin fat by consuming too much sugar and fat (junk food), which results in the body making more fat cells to store the excess sugar and fat, and also through a very sedentary existence” says Dr. Stephenson. “This is the same dangerous combination of behaviors that can lead to obesity, but for a variety of reasons (some likely genetic, others likely metabolic), some people aren’t very heavy. This type of fat is usually not the subcutaneous type that is so visible on a person’s body, but the more dangerous visceral type that is packed around internal organs. “
Is Thin Fat Associated With Health Risks?
Visceral fat is an important part of what makes thin fat so dangerous.
“This fat, which is deposited around your internal organs, can put strain on your heart, fill your liver with fat so that it doesn’t work as well, and even make it difficult to breathe,” explains Dr. Stephenson. “Viscous fat can also lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are serious risk factors for heart disease, and high levels of body fat can generally lead to insulin resistance, which can be a warning sign of diabetes.”
This is why it is important to look at more than just weight and BMI (body mass index).
Related: What does your BMI actually mean from a health point of view?
“The risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease is not just limited to people with medical obesity,” says DR. Sylvia Gonsahn-Bollie, MD., dual obesity specialist, metabolic health expert, and best-selling author of Embrace You: Your Guide to Transforming Weight Loss Misconceptions In Lifelong Wellness.
Are you at risk If your body fat percentage is over 25% (in men) and 32% (in women), it may be an indicator, explains Dr. Gonsahn Ballie.
According to Dr. For Stephenson, not having enough muscles is also a problem. “This can lead to frailty, falls, and other accidents that can cause serious injury if you cannot support yourself or get up from the floor or even get up easily from a chair,” she says. “You may be thinking now that you are not, but a lack of adequate muscle is a major cause of frailty and falls with age.”
What to do with thin fat
There is a common misconception that if you are “normal weight” you don’t need to pay as much attention to healthy eating, exercise or a healthy lifestyle. “However, your metabolic health is determined by more than you weigh on the scale,” says Dr. Gonsahn Bollie.
You can prevent yourself from becoming “thin fat” by creating a wellness-based lifestyle. “Focus on eating minimally processed foods, cutting down on your sugar and refined carbohydrates intake, exercising stress control, and getting seven to nine hours of sleep at night. Both sleep deprivation and chronic high stress increase cortisol and insulin levels, which promotes fat accumulation, ”explains Dr. Gonsahn Bollie.
“Also, when creating an exercise program, make sure you include resistance exercises that help build muscle and burn fat. Make sure your treatment does not result in you losing all of your body weight, which may indicate you are losing more muscle and not fat, ”says Dr. Gonsahn Bollie.
Related: 5 Reasons to Get Healthy Alongside Losing Weight
And if you’re already skinny technically, aerobics can really help.
“Continuous aerobic exercise like 30-40 minutes of cardio or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) are both very effective for improving metabolic health and reducing ectopic and visceral fat, even when there is no significant weight loss,” says Dr. Glenn Gaesser, Professor of Exercise Physiology at Arizona State University and a member of the Grain Foods Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. And when it comes to nutrition, “Diets high in fiber-rich foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes) are effective at improving metabolic health … even without significant weight loss,” says Dr. Gaesser.
On the positive side, the positive effects of exercise and diet set in immediately. “A single training session can lower blood pressure for hours and a single healthy meal can improve vascular function for hours after a meal,” explains Dr. Gaesser. “Long-term effects can be observed after days or weeks – again without significant weight loss.”
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Even if individuals cannot “see” a difference, their health will improve significantly.
Take that away? Your overall health goes beyond the numbers on a scale. So focus on leading a healthy lifestyle and developing good habits. “The thin fat discussion underscores the need for individual health risk assessments rather than just relying on generalized charts like the BMI chart,” explains Dr. Gonsahn Bollie.
Next read about 30 ways to lose belly fat.