Skinny Fat? What on Earth is That?

being skinny fat

Much of the media of today tells us that if a person is thin, they’re healthy. But that’s not always the case. That’s where the term ‘skinny fat’ comes into play.

Skinny fat sounds made up, but it’s not. It’s a serious health issue that is impacting many people today. These people are people who might consider themselves healthy because their scale reads a normal number for their height.

What they don’t know is that skinny fat is just as dangerous as being obese.

To find out more about skinny fat, what it means, and how to take care of it, read on.

So, What is Skinny Fat?

Skinny fat is something that happens when a person has a slim build but excess fat on their bodies. A person who is skinny fat has too much fat on their body and too little muscle.

Women are more at risk of being skinny fat than men. This is usually because they have bodies that are naturally inclined to hold onto more fat, especially in the stomach, hip, and thigh area.

What Causes Skinny Fat?

Usually, skinny fat is caused by the makeup of the body. The ratio of fat to muscle causes fat to be more evident on a thin frame. Even when a person is very thin, if they don’t have muscle, all they’ve got covering their body is fat!

Diets that are carb, fat and sugar heavy usually lead to the presence of skinny fat. But while diets are a leading factor in weight reduction, it’s exercise that is important here.

When there is minimal effort to exercise, there is minimal muscle mass. Less muscle mass equates to skinny fat!

It’s worth mentioning that muscle mass will naturally decrease over time with age, this is normal. But there are ways to overcome it.

Basically, if a person sits all day, doesn’t exercise, and eats whatever they want, but they are still skinny, they’re likely skinny fat.

How to Tell if a Person is Skinny Fat

Weight is not the main measurement to use when determining the presence of skinny fat. A lot of people never realize that they are skinny fat because they rely only on weight to guide them.

The best way to tell if a body has excess fat stores on a smaller frame is to have their body composition checked out by a specialist or by using one of the tools listed below.


Calipers are the most common way to measure body composition. They help estimate the internal fat in the body by measuring the fat that can be seen and squeezed on the outside.

Calipers aren’t the most accurate way to measure, though. They’re tools used to measure and guess the amount of internal fat you might have, based on a person’s age.

They can also be inconsistent due to user error. Maybe a person squeezes the calipers harder than others or maybe they’ve got a softer touch. It’s hard to get a consistent, accurate reading when user error is easy to do.

BIA Scales

BIA scales are surprisingly accurate. They use small electric currents to measure the makeup of a body.

Before a person uses a BMI scale, it’s important that they understand how it works. Some devices only measure specific parts of the body. Devices that measure the entire body are the most accurate and useful tools.

Clinical Tests

Clinical tests are the most accurate way to obtain information about body composition. However, they’re not exceptionally easy to access.

Hydrostatic weighing and dual x-ray absorptiometry require specialized equipment. Dual x-ray absorptiometry actually exposes you to radiation!

However, if these procedures can be accessed and afforded, they offer the most accurate readings.

The Dangers of Skinny Fat

People who have incredible metabolisms and genetics often feel like they have nothing to worry about. Being thin and looking good are often the two things that people look at when determining their health. But this can be dangerous.

There have been cases where people with a totally normal BMI have developed type 2 diabetes. A 2008 study found that a quarter of adults with normal BMIs still had a symptom of an unhealthy heart.

When thinking about health, people need to remember that the appearance of health can be just that, only an appearance.

How to Get Fit

Working out and eating right seem to be the common sense answer to solving our weight problems but not all efforts to rid yourself of skinny fat are the right ways to go about it.

What Not to Do

Don’t give in to severe calorie restricting. When a person is looking to increase their muscle mass, calorie restricting is the last thing they want to do. Human bodies need those calories for energy, and a lot of energy goes into beefing up muscle mass.

Don’t overdo the cardio. When a person puts themselves through an intense cardio session, especially when they don’t have the calories to burn, their bodies will start consuming muscle. This is the last thing they want to happen when trying to rid themselves of skinny fat.

What to Do

Resistance training, like lifting weights, is the best way to build the muscle around the skeleton. When the lean body mass is increased, the more the body is able to burn fat.

Eating healthy is important no matter what the topic is. While it’s not a good idea to restrict calories to an extreme when trying to increase muscle mass, a healthy diet is still key to maintaining health.

Don’t Worry About Bulk

Many people, women especially, who start out with resistance training worry about appearing bulky. This is nothing to worry about.

In order to bulk up severely, men and women usually need to take supplements. When a person is trying to rid themselves of skinny fat, bulking up won’t be a problem.

The Skinny

Just because a person seems to be of an average, appropriate weight and size doesn’t mean that they’re healthy. Our health is a complex, multi-faceted issue that takes more than just the number on a scale to determine.

If you think you fall into this skinny fat category, don’t get discouraged. Let this information be the thing that kick-starts you into gear!

For more in-depth information on what skinny fat is, how to prevent it, and how to fix it, visit our website!


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