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Is “Skinny Fat” real?

What is “skinny fat”?

“Skinny Fat” is a term that seems to have been picking up in popularity in the last few years. So, what is it to be “skinny fat” anyway? It is when you are normal weight, or maybe even underweight, but lack muscle tone and are ultimately unfit. “Skinny fat” is metabolically obese normal weight, meaning that someone has a seemingly healthy look on the outside but they have risks for a number of health problems that are related to obesity. This is mainly due to a poor diet and lack of exercise. This body type can be seen in men and women.

Certified weight loss management professional, Lauren Klein, based out of New York City told Shape that “at first, (these patients) they look normal, sometimes even skinny, with a low or average body mass index. But upon further evaluation, they fall victim to the same diagnostic markers of diabetic patients: high blood sugar, low good cholesterol, high triglycerides, inflammation, and/or high blood pressure.” These “metabolically unhealthy” individuals that are not obese may have similar cardiovascular risk as obese individuals with abnormal metabolic profile.

That is a scary dose of reality for outwardly skinny people. Thin does not equal healthy even though that seems to be what the media teaches us. This is an important fact to understand.

 

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So how do we combat that “skinny fat”?

Ultimately, diet and physical activity are two factors we can control that can impact our health.

The saying “you are what you eat” has some validity it turns out! Regardless of body size, it is important to consume the appropriate amount of food and ensure you are eating all of the important nutrients. The updated  Dietary Guidelines for Americans focus on reducing our added sugar intake and increasing intake of calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D because low intakes are associated with health concerns. Another topic that experts talk about is that portion control is something that Americans need to get in check as well. Size does matter! Choose My Plate is a great source for the recommended portion sizes for different food groups.

Don’t ignore the importance of physical activity! Both men and women – of any age – should be lifting weights at least two times per week to gain muscle mass as well as doing cardio three to four times a week at the least for heart health. You can learn more about these recommendations on the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Now men and women will lift different amounts of weight and have different reps.  And someone 18 years old will not lift the same as someone in their 60s. Keep in mind any health issues you may have and make sure to speak to your trusted health professional before starting any sort of new exercise or eating program. Know your body and listen to your body but if you need help getting started, this article provides useful information if you are new to weight training. Someone who is skinny fat and has less muscle mass and tone should expect to start out with lighter weights at the beginning but progress will help you get healthier by increasing muscle mass. Between your doctor and googling workouts and meal prep – you will have all the tools you need to get started on any new regiment to a healthier and fit you!

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