You might have heard the term skinny fat being thrown around. Today, we show you how to beat it.
If you’re tall and have always had a difficult time putting on muscle, you’ve almost definitely heard it. So what can you do about this?
We’re going to dive into what the real problem is behind there and why a lot of people fall into this category. We’re also going to present to you our skinny fat workout and see what you can do to recomposition your body and improve your physique.
Instead of focusing on their body composition, people rely often on the scale to tell them if they’re healthy or not. Weight does not separate muscle mass from body fat.
When we say body composition, we mean the ratio of lean mass versus fat mass in your body. Lean mass equates to muscle, while fat-free mass is everything else that doesn’t contain fat, like muscle, bone and water, while fat mass is just plain old body fat.
So no matter what you’re talking about (health vs. what you see in the mirror) how much the scale spits back at you isn’t nearly as important as the pounds of muscle you have vs the fat you have.
The Hard Part About Being Skinny Fat
The real problem behind skinny fat is that there is a little too much fat and not enough muscle on a frame that may be prone to thin limbs and narrow shoulders. Some of the most common reasons for this include:
- Sedentary Lifestyle – are you moving enough?
- Insufficient Protein – you’re always losing or gaining muscle mass, it’s your choice every day.
- Underdeveloped Core – a strong foundation shapes your body.
The first of these problems is lack of movement or sedentary lifestyle.
And the less muscle you have in your body the more fat is going to take away from any muscle definition in a visible sense. So whether you’re trying to lose pounds or gain them, you’re going to need to focus on building muscle while losing fat.
So the first step in fixing the skinny fat problem means adjusting body composition. And most times, this is going to mean getting weight up. Yeah, we said it. We’ll go over which lifts are best for developing your core and reshaping your body.
Muscle is extremely dense, and a lot of times, people don’t realize how much muscle is needed to give them the look they want. This includes even if you are just going for a more toned look.
Often times, the problem is more apparent with women than men. This is partly due to the more difficult time women have developing muscle as compared to men. Sometimes, your natural body type can set up this hurdle for you, and that just means you have to swim upstream to conquer skinny fat.
So, generally speaking, where does it come from?
Skinny fat is a condition marked by slight chronic caloric surplus with underdeveloped muscle tissue. So what do you need to know to conquer it?
Skinny Fat Facts
Let’s review a few facts first. Foods that are high in calories have a lot of possible energy, while lower calorie foods don’t have as much. Your body is going to use that energy from food to do a ton of different activities. It’s going to store some of that energy them as body fat.
So to get rid of body fat, you have to keep your body fed on a regular basis with less energy than it uses on a daily basis. This is called caloric deficit. Eventually, it’s going to cut down on the fat stores in your body.
Before you jump on the fad, make sure you know the real deal about low carb diets and what you might be doing wrong. Down the road, you’re going to stop losing fat a lot sooner than you expect, and the initial weight loss may have more to do with water retention.
From here, you can’t keep losing weight unless you continue to eat less or exercise more, so you’re going to lose even more muscle. This downward spiral can be messy and end in some pretty ugly results.
Muscle Loss and the Problem with Steady Cardio for Skinny Fat Folks
When you supply your body with a lot less energy than what you need, sure you are going to lose weight.
Guess what else you’re going to lose? Muscle. And the speed of your metabolism.
Now, cardio isn’t your enemy, especially if you’re trying to build muscle and stay lean at the same time. But steady cardio fails you, doing excessive amounts of it aren’t going to do you any good.
First of all, there’s plenty of research that shows endurance training actually interferes with both muscle and strength growth. That’s why you want to keep the frequency of certain endurance trainings to a minimum if you want to build strength.
Also, research shows that the longer you make your cardio session, the more it’s going to impair strength and potentially cause hypertrophy.
This is why you need to keep your cardio sessions relatively short. You want to go for long enough that you’re going to see some fat loss, but not long enough that you’re going to damage your muscles. The best way to do this?
Check out our high intensity interval training tips to torch fat and build muscle.
Now, mix in restricting your calorie intake for fat loss, and you’re in a state of negative energy balance. This isn’t a place you want to be – it cuts back on anabolic hormone levels, and messed with the protein synthesis rate. So in other words, your body is basically setting itself up for muscle loss, even though you’re dieting in order to lose fat. Adding in a bunch of long cardio in here is going to speed up that muscle losing process even more.
Beat Skinny Fat with Weight Lifting and HIIT
We mentioned earlier that not focusing enough on weightlifting can also cause the skinny fat look. Because so many people figure that cardio = weight loss, weightlifting is generally skipped over. And this is a huge mistake.
Lifting weights have a lot more benefits than you might think. When you lift heavy weights, you’re preserving the lean mass in your body, while also restricting calories for fat loss.
And, since your goal is to diet for fat loss while also maintaining strength and lean mass, resistance training is the way to do this. You can build muscle while losing fat.
Plus, weightlifting can actually increase the fat loss effects that come along with cardio, and the other way around.
These are two huge reasons why you want to use resistance training when you’re looking to diet for fat loss.
But the question is – how much should you be lifting?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one specific answer that will be the end-all to the best training amount. It all depends on how well your body handles the training.
If you don’t even know where to start, maybe aim for 3 to 5 times a week. And go for HIIT cardio sessions about 3 to 4 times a week. You are likely to see a lot of success with this, because you’re performing the right amount of training volume.
And you need to incorporate a healthy diet, with a moderate caloric deficit. Make sure you get plenty of rest and supplement with vitamins that’ll help cut back on the stress and inflammation in your body, like a clean fish oil supplement, vitamin D and spirulina.
Okay, so now that your head is full of all kinds of physical training and dieting tips, we’re going to get into some final solutions.
Beating Skinny Fat Through Body Recomposition
Like we said, skinny fat comes from lack of muscle, so you’re going to want to focus on building up that muscle.
This means you need to shift your focus from cardio to weightlifting. Work on increasing your strength with compound lifts from the military press, squats, deadlifts and bench presses. Gals, aim for a rep range of 8 to 10 and guys, 4 to 6.
Do this on top of a proper diet (don’t worry, we’re getting there) and you will see a huge increase in your overall strength and muscle size. Your body is going to be on its way to having a leaner, more athletic look.
Remember, step away from steady cardio.
Doing hours and hours of cardio isn’t ever going to be necessary, no matter how skinny you want to get. So stop. If you want to do cardio, limit it to 1 to 3 sessions each week when you’re looking to maintain and 2 to 4 sessions when you’re cutting. You really want to use the HIIT cardio to keep your sessions short while still making the most of the calorie burning aspect.
Like we mentioned earlier, you want a healthy diet. While you might be thinking you already have one, there’s a key factor to point out here – while your calorie intake might already be low, you don’t want this to go any lower in order to cut back on fat.
A lot of people that are suffering from skinny fat have completely ruined their metabolic rates, due to incorrect diets and training. If this sounds like you, no need to worry, this can actually be fixed. But it has to be fixed before you can start losing fat in order for you to see the results you want.
Don’t start restricting calories again. What you need to do is plan out a strategy to gradually increase your calories in order to speed up your metabolism. This will help you build muscle and burn off fat easier.
However, if your intake of calories is normal and your body fat percentage is a bit too high, you can focus on your diet to lose fat. We have a few tricks up our sleeve for how to beat cellulite.
Let’s say you’re eating your daily energy expenditure. Your metabolic rate is good to go, so you can also diet in order to lose fat.
If you aren’t sure, use this as a general rule – body fat percentages over 15% for men and 25% for women should try and get down to 10% for men and 20% for women before you want to grow your muscles while losing fat.
On the other hand, if your calorie intake is within normal limits and your body fat percentage isn’t very high, you can switch your focus back to building muscle.
All in all, being skinny fat sucks but you certainly aren’t alone. We all have things we’d rather change about our bodies. With a little help, we can all get there. Remember, ample protein, caloric deficit and HIIT workouts are your best bet for building muscle and losing fat.
If you focus on getting your body fat percentage down, and then weightlifting, you will see a huge increase in your overall body composition. There’s no better time than the present – this will only get harder to do the older you get, so get to it. Brush off those weights in the basement, clean out the pantry so you have clean, healthy food, and renew that gym membership. All you need is a little jumpstart to start your transformation. Your body has all the tools you need to succeed – you just need to utilize what it offers in order to get the best results.
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