The term ‘skinny-fat’ may be one of the stranger oxymorons in use, but it’s becoming an all-too-common occurrence in modern society. While you’ll likely find a few different definitions online, many of which are patronising as they’re a poor attempt at a tongue-in cheek fitness-related article, the truth is being skinny-fat is no laughing matter.
The medical term for this is metabolically obese normal weight (MONW). It usually refers to a person who has a normal, or even what is medically considered a ‘healthy’ body weight, but their body composition is far from ideal. A MONW person will have a very high body fat percentage, with most of that fat usually concentrated around their waist and belly, with a very low proportion of lean muscle tissue.This is dangerous because central obesity – a wide waist and hips – usually means a high degree of visceral body fat, which surrounds internal organs and is associated with a high risk of metabolic diseases such as insulin resistance,pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and serious cardiovascular disease such as hypertension and high cholesterol.
Yes, you can be skinny and still suffer from these conditions which we normally associate with those who are overweight or obese.
So these health-related factors, rather than your less-than-firm exterior (that’s also a factor, though) are what categorises a person as skinny-fat. This condition is usually linked to a poor diet and a lack of adequate activity. The truth is, owing to a variety of factors – some genetic, like a naturally high metabolism, and other lifestyle-related – not everyone who eats poorly will become obese. The common denominator, however, is the prevalence of lifestyle disease among those who eat a diet that mainly consists of processed and convenience foods (full of unhealthy hydrogenated synthetic fats), and eat and drink sugar in excess. The lack of metabolically active muscle tissue generally seen in MONW people can be attributed to a lack of adequate protein in these nutritionally deficient diets, combined with little or no exercise, particularly resistance exercise. Your best bet is to therefore clean up your diet – cut out all forms of added sugar, eat as close to nature as possible, and manipulate your carb intake to improve insulin sensitivity –and get active.
Ideally, you want to follow a training programme aimed at adding muscle tissue and reducing fat stores. Forget about the scale as you’re technically already at an ideal weight, and focus rather on transforming your body composition, for the sake of your long-term health.
This article was adapted from a Fitness magazine feature written by Pedro van Gaalen, Managing Editor for Fitness magazine.
Author: Logan Leigh Rix
Logan blends her passion and profession by working as a digital and social media marketer and content creator in the fitness, health and wellness industry. She’s also a personal trainer, former Face of Fitness finalist and Fitness Magazine featured athlete.
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