The newly coined term “skinny fat” has young starlets rethinking their diet techniques and super models checking themselves into fat camp. While many chunky individuals may be reveling in the glory of skinny people deemed fat, those who have long prided themselves on their waif-like physique are now frantically hitting the gym to tone up and trim down their inner fatty.
What is Skinny Fat?
When it comes to evaluating your health, the number on the scale is no longer a reliable source. Health experts have noticed a growing trend of people who appear skinny on the outside, yet have a disproportionate percentage of body fat to lean body tissue on the inside. This is known as skinny fat. Skinny fats are most often people who maintain a strict diet, but fail to exercise. In order to truly be skinny you must do both.
“You can do all of your weight loss by just dieting and that’s fine, but that’s not going to change your percentage of body fat to your lean body tissue,” says fitness expert Jill Brown.
On the flip side there are those who like to exercise and feel this gives them room to slide when it comes to what they eat. These people can also fall victim to skinny fat. Fat intake should be 20% of your calories or less. When we eat fat it is stored as fat in our bodies and while it may not be visible from the outside it can be doing harmful damage on the inside. Some doctors are concerned that this fat may be stored around vital organs, which can eventually lead to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The risk for these diseases is lowered when your body has a lower percentage of fat and a higher percentage of muscle. Eating a diet high in protein provides the body with what it needs to rebuild and preserve muscle mass, so that it can be lean and healthy.
How Do You Know If You Are Skinny Fat?
So how do you know if you are indeed skinny fat? Perhaps you look thin, exercise moderately and eat a healthy diet. Are you still a potential candidate? The answer is yes. A body fat test is the easiest way to determine your percentage of body fat. This test uses a caliper— a small device that pinches the skin on different areas of the body to measure your fat. Women should have between 14 and 24 percent, while men should have between 5 and 17 percent. Another way to calculate your body fat percentage is by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI). This is done by looking at a chart and comparing your height and weight to determine your risk for developing health problems. If you’re not eating the right foods, not exercising on a regular basis or both, most likely you are in danger of being skinny fat. According to ABC News—
“Out of the 800 slim people that received an MRI to scan for visceral fat, 45 percent had excessive levels of internal fat with some as high as 60 percent, yet exteriorly they appeared slight.”
The Skinny on Getting Skinny
Whether you’re overweight, faux thin, or truly skinny, it’s important to exercise and eat a healthy diet. Working out will increase your amount of lean body mass, boost your metabolism, tone and strengthen your body, and increase your circulation. Cardio and strength training are excellent ways to burn fat and tone up. Try doing at least 30 minutes of cardio a day along with three to four days of strength training a week. Cardio can be anything from power walking, to running, to kickboxing, as long as you are moving enough to break a sweat and get your heart rate up. For strength training you can lift weights or try a class such as yoga or Pilates.
When it comes to your diet, whole foods are best. Whole foods are unrefined and unprocessed. Load up on fresh fruits and veggies and stick to only healthy fats, such as avocado and olive oil. Choose from lean proteins like fish, eggs, and chicken and when it comes to grains stick to brown rice or opt for quinoa.
Kristin Hoppe, a San Francisco based food therapist, suggests three ways to change your overall diet and lifestyle.
1. Eat a substantial protein rich breakfast within 1 hour of waking. This jump starts your metabolism, sets the tone for the day ahead, and will help prevent the post lunch energy slump.
2. Fill your plate with vegetables that are from all colors of the rainbow. It is the easiest way to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need.
3. In order to reduce sugars, refined carbohydrates, and food additives, stay away from anything that comes in a package. In doing so, you will improve your mood and energy levels.