Skinny fat, something you have probably heard of before. But what is it exactly? Are you skinny fat? How do you become skinny fat? And what is the solution for skinny fat?
What is skinny fat?
Let’s start with defining what skinny fat is exactly. The phrase kind of says it all honestly. Your weight is pretty low, it may be considered healthy or even close to underweight.
Yet you still carry around a relatively high amount of body fat. The good thing is that it is not necessarily bad for you, and definitely not something that you should be ashamed of.
There is a big chance that you have tried to change this before with different diets or lots of cardio. There is only one problem with that.
Yes, you will lose the fat that you want to get rid of. But you will lose not only fat, you’ll lose lean mass as well. So when these two go down, you’ll still stay at around the same body fat percentage.
Body fat to lean muscle mass ratio
When you are skinny fat you want to work on your body fat to lean muscle ratio. You want the fat to come down and the muscle mass to go up. And this can easily be done with a good plan and consistency.
Especially as a beginner, you can make quick gains and even lose fat at the same time. But after you lost your newbie year (the first year of training) it will get harder to do both at the same time.
At this point, you need to ask yourself if you are going to cut (lose fat) or bulk (gain muscle), since this won’t be able to happen simultaneously anymore.
The biggest mistake
The biggest mistake that the majority of people make is cutting first. This is the reasons they end up looking skinny fat instead of toned and lean.
Why do people get skinny fat?
So there are a few reasons why people tend to be skinny fat, right now I am going to cover some of the most common, so you can check if you are making some of these mistakes!
No strength training
Little to no resistance training. As mentioned before this will make you gain muscle and give you the extra definition that you want.
It will also burn more fat, not only during your lifting sessions but also out of the gym. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat. (x)
There are a million reasons why strength training is beneficial to your health, fat loss and overall physique.
When you combine any form of resistance training with a high protein diet you’ll start to gain muscle. And that is exactly what we want to fight that skinny fat look.
As we discussed before your body fat to lean muscle ratio is really important to get rid of that skinny fat look.
Start incorporating strength training in your week 3-4 times. Focus mainly on progressive overload, adding more weight, reps or sets, and on compound movements, the exercises that involve more muscle groups.
Nutrition is probably the second biggest mistake people make and this way they end up being skinny fat.
Decreasing your calorie intake is necessary to lose weight, there is no way around this. But you can take it too far.
Being in a deficit of 200-300 calories will already start the fat burning process in your body. There is no need to start off with a deficit of 500-600 calories.
It may feel like you are getting a kickstart, but it will work against you sooner than later.
With a deficit that is too big, you will not only start losing fat, you’ll also start using muscle mass as fuel. Because of that, your lean muscle mass will go down as well.
The next mistake that a lot of people make with nutrition is not focusing on protein intake.
Protein has some amazing benefits when it comes to weight loss and should, next to calories, be your main priority.
Protein is the building block of our body, and when you are trying to increase your muscle mass, the most important macro out there.
It will not only help you gain muscle, it can also increase your metabolism and fat burning. (x)
The last reason that you may be skinny fat is cardio. There are two main reasons why cardio can make you look skinny fat.
The first reason is that too much endurance training can mess with your muscle growth. (x) And this comes back to the idea that you need to be in a slight calorie surplus to gain muscle mass.
The second reason is time management. If you are spending 6 days doing cardio sessions in the gym it is very hard to find the time to actually do some resistance training.
Without the stimulants of resistance training, you won’t gain any muscle.
So if you are spending all hours in the on a treadmill, you might want to redo your schedule and prioritize strength training.
You can up your calorie intake even more and still be doing cardio, as long as you make sure you are spending most energy creating muscle.
In the end, this will give you much more result than doing cardio.
Please don’t get me wrong and think there is something wrong with cardio. It is great to burn some extra calories, increase cardiovascular health and improve your recovery.
But when you try to fight skinny fat, it shouldn’t be your main priority.
How not to be skinny fat
So the conclusion is that there is nothing wrong with being skinny fat. You don’t have to change anything if you don’t want to.
However, if you want to do something about it there are some tips and trick you can follow to make sure you get rid of this look!
When you are doing strength training in the gym make sure you focus on compound moves. These movements involve multiple joints and muscle groups.
Emphasize on heavy compound lifts to maximize your muscle growth.
When it comes to cardio you should minimize this to 1,5 – 2,5 hours a week. This is enough to still get the health benefits of cardio. But not so much that it will interfere with your muscle building.
To summarize, there is nothing wrong with being skinny fat. But if you want to do something about this look you need to stop the cardio and start picking up some weights.
When it comes to nutrition your main focus should be on calories and a high protein intake. This way you ensure you are doing everything to maximize your muscle gain.
Don’t forget to share and let me know your thoughts in the comments!