Everybody has heard of it but not everyone knows what it is, what it means or how you end up that way. Skinny fat is where you have a high percentage of body fat but you still look skinny or small based on your dress size and weight.

These people tend to look good in clothes but as soon as the clothes come off you notice that they have very little or no muscle tone, that means no firm muscles, no definition and every thing looks a bit soft, they could have wobbly bits or even cellulite. Skinny fat happens to men and women it does not discriminate. However you got skinny fat you can change it, most of the time the process is going to involve increasing lean muscle mass (not necessarily an easy task especially for women) and getting your fat percentage down, it may take a bit more time than just getting fit but it is worth the effort to be fit, healthy and to look good not only whilst wearing clothes but also whilst naked.

It is not just about looks though, having a high body fat percentage can lead to a range of health issues including type II diabetes.

Lets look at some of the possible causes for skinny fat:

Diets

If you just diet (restricting calories) in order to lose weight and do no exercise you could end up being skinny fat as you are not doing anything to ensure you keep your muscle mass or firming up what you do have. Use it or lose it.

Cardio Overload

Don’t prioritize this element of your fitness routine all the time, “but cardio is good for losing fat…” I hear you say – yes this is a mantra that almost anyone who wants to lose weight has probably heard, yes it is good for fat burning but it is important to include strength training in your workout routine. People who start off being overweight can end up being skinny fat if all they do is cardio. If you are reducing calories but doing high intensity cardio you could start to lose muscle mass and strength. Resistance training will help to prevent this.

Nutrition

A lot of people who start exercising also increase their food as you need more fuel to keep the body going, plus you get ravenous after a workout, the key here is trying to get rid of that extra fat by using it as fuel so that your body will burn it off. If you are eating more then there is a chance you may not be optimising your fat loss. It is important to make sure you are eating the right types of food… stay away from processed foods – I give this advice to everyone regardless of their goals.

So how can you fix the skinny-fat:

Weights

If you are not using weights then now is the time to start, wait…hold it… don’t head over to those machines, nope the best way is to use free weights. By using weights your body will keep the lean muscle it has instead of thinking it can be used as fuel, your body will realise it needs to keep the muscle to complete the tasks it is being asked to do. Now if you don’t lift weights then you can go ahead and start with bodyweight exercises, the best thing abut these is you don’t isolate muscle groups, you need no equipment, very little space and can do the exercises anywhere you please, so in the comfort of your own home, in the park, in a huge filed of flowers if it takes your fancy. So what I am saying here is there should be no excuse for not doing bodyweight exercises, once you have learnt the basic move (there are many, many videos on youtube that can help you but it is important to learn the right way so if you are a member at a gym ask an instructor to show you). Once you know how to do the exercise with good form you are good to go. The benefit here is that by doing strength training your body will actually burn calories and help you lose that fat, so as you start to lose fat you will start to unveil the firm lean limbs that you have been working towards whilst strength training.

Step off the scales

Because you are trying to lose fat and not weight when you are skinny fat there is no reason to check your weight, it isn’t going to help as you wont know if you are losing lean muscle or fat. Have your body fat percentage measured by a professional this is a good way for you to know what you are aiming for in terms of goals. Once you know what your body fat is you can then set a goal of what percentage you want to lose. A good judge is also using a mirror using your own eyes, I know when I have gained fat or lost fat – I can see it and I can feel it (by being able to grab it!). Photos are an excellent way to keep track of progress as you can compare them as time goes by, take a photo now and then every 4 weeks or so – you don’t ever have to show them to anyone either. Seeing the difference in photos is a great motivation to keep going.

Nutrition

A healthy diet is key, what you eat is going to make a big difference. Your body is essentially a machine and needs fuel to keep it going but it needs good quality and the right type of fuel otherwise it’s not going to work as efficiently as it should and could tart to break down. A good place to start is by eating clean.

Now you know the basics you can prevent getting the skinny fat look or alternatively if you find that you are skinny fat you can start to reduce that fat and gain some muscle and be on your way to a fitter and healthier you.

The ins and outs of the body using fat or muscle is quite a complicated process and we will be covering it in the future so keep an eye out.

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12 Responses to “What is Skinny Fat? And How to Fix It…”

  1. Annemarie

    Hi, first of all I love your site. What a great article about this skinny fat. I had never heard of it, but it is exactly what I have. I am about 2 kilo’s above my BMI, but my body is wobbly, no muscles any more because I didn’t work out for 6 years. But I began to workout again (at home), indeed the strenght exercises.
    I was wondering about eating before a workout. Is it important to eat before a workout, and if so what to eat. And what to eat after a workout.
    I afraid I’m a little fixed on eating because I don’t want to loose more weight.

    • FitBodyHQ

      @Annemarie first, congratulations on getting back into your workouts – especially the strength training!

      The main thing when it comes to maintaining your weight is to make sure you are getting your daily caloric requirements (which will have increased given your increased activity).

      As far as pre- and post-workout nutrition, it’s probably not as an important factor you at this stage; however, it is usually suggested that one have a protein source about 15 – 30 minutes prior to resistance training in order to flood the body with the amino acids which promote muscle growth (and prevent muscle catabolism).

      Here are some ideas: http://www.fitbodyhq.com/nutrition/4-simple-pre-workout-supplements-women/

      Also take a look at our workouts if you need some ideas: http://www.fitbodyhq.com/category/workouts/

      • Annemarie

        Thank you! Coffee is great 😉 because I like to work out in the morning. and I like your workouts, especially the videos so you can see how to do them, always good to have some new ideas.

  2. Bianca Lee

    Hmm. im 15, and supposedly “skinny fat”
    idk how to lose the rolls on my stomach, any one know how?
    i have really skinny legs, but when i sit i have rolls of excess fat/or skin and it looks really weird when i go swimming or to the beach. what do i do? anyone know?

    and i dont really have time to do workouts because i have school and all.

    • FitBodyHQ

      @bianca_lee:disqus who says you’re skinny fat? It may not be true. Even people with low body fat will have rolls on their stomach when they sit, so that’s not a good indicator.

      It’s good that you’re interested in becoming a healthier you, and honestly, the best place to start is to accept yourself as you are right now. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything to improve your situation (if it’s even necessary) – it’s just a much better place to start from.

      As far as the rest:

      The best way to keep healthy and lean is to eat clean: http://www.fitbodyhq.com/nutrition/beginners-guide-to-eating-clean/

      And exercise! Even if you’re crazy-busy and don’t have the 40 – 60 minutes to workout (really?) you can still get active with micro workouts (like taking the stairs all the time) and since you’re in school you should have more than enough opportunities to be active with sports etc.

  3. Skinny Fat Mama

    I am 24 and I have 2 kids, first is almost 3 and the second is 7 months. I am a petite person and have always been skinny, but after having my 2nd child, I am definitely skinny fat…and I am not liking what I see. My arms are strong from carrying the kids, but my stomach muscles seem buried so far underneath the fat that I cannot even hardly feel them. I am really needing to find a way to start exercising, but with 2 little kids, I am having a hard time finding the time AND the motivation since they wear me out. Any tips for skinny fat mothers trying to get healthier???

  4. Lorenzo

    Being OVERWEIGHT is one of the most HUMILIATING experience
    for some people because society makes it that way. I’ve been there and even to
    this day I can remember the bullying that I had to put up with everyday at
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    and decided to change my life forever…I literally lost it!

    The weight, that is : )))
    In about 6 months I was able to get to a stable, healthy weight. It took a lot of dedication and work but I also
    had some friends, and I thank them for that. I found Dr Charles’ program and I decided to give it
    a try.

    Now I must say this, if you decide to do this for the
    looks…well, you will definitely get the looks, but please consider and take
    note that you should also be doing it for your health, for having a boost of
    energy and confidence you’ve never experienced before, for the feeling of
    lightness and joy that a healthy body gives you, in short…FOR YOURSELF.

    Before you click on the link at the bottom of this comment I
    want you to know that it will cost you a couple of bucks (like anything that’s
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  5. Ahad Ammar

    Tried the Pineapple Coconut and am sooooo excited. Stevia AND great taste. Want to get away from artificial sweeteners and glad there is an alternative that tastes so good. Going to try the White Cherry next Thanks for your skinny girl diet.

  6. fat fuck

    holy fucking hell. don’t eat enough and you will get fat, eat too much, and you will get fat.

  7. Hans Crownje

    Hi, Great site you have!
    I’m 15 and have a BMI just under 20. I have a lot of fat over my midriff, and a bit on my pectorals. I have practically no muscles, other than my calves which are well built by a few months of jogging and cardio. I have really skinny arms.
    I was wondering if you could help me with bodyweight exercises, since the Gym is too inconvenient to go regularly. I need to build up some muscle in my arms, pecs and shoulders and more importantly, lose fat. And I can’t lose more weight.
    Any advise?

  8. Brittany

    I’ve always been small. But… I have no muscle tone. I’m lean but do not look good without clothes. I jiggle and have terrible cellulite. I have aboskuteky no muscle anywhere… Idk what to do!? 🙁 I’m skinny fat… Like I’m lean and thin but have a lot of fat on my body, that’s what makes up my body shape… What can I do to fix this?

  9. Candice Alishia Daoud

    I have always had a higher percentage bodyfat and I am not sure why. I exercise regularly (yoga everyday including my rest day HIIT which I love, Pilates, and sometimes just cardio or just weights) and eat well (no starvation diets for me). I am curvy so the weight isn’t all piling in the mid section. I have tone in the midsection 3 distinct lines but I hold onto fat in my thighs (luckily not much cellulite but some in the upper regions). All the women in my family have big legs and I have accepted I am proportioned to have bigger thighs (and calves) but I do wish they could be more toned. My bodyfat always runs the highest on the Bioelectrical Impedience Analysis the hand held type (I haven’t taken that test though in 10 years), it is lower with calipers. I have also tried the tape measurement method but because of my proportions I get wildly different results on each test. My dream goal would be 19% body fat but at 35 now that probably is unreasonable. I’d like to teach fitness though and so I want to have a healthy but athletic appearance. Could my thyroid issues be causing me to look so average despite working so hard?

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