OyChicago blog

Skinny Fat

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07/25/2012

Ron Krit photo 3

Skinny fat is a term that’s thrown around all the time. It’s not like jumbo shrimp, but figuring out the term might require fuzzy logic.

For a visual definition of skinny fat, think of the last time you were at the pool or beach. You see someone who has thin arms and legs with a gut. I’m afraid that my love handles (we all have them) will morph into a gut. Fighting the battle is hard because it is so easy to gain a few pounds. The disadvantage to being skinny fat is that it’s not that noticeable, like visceral fat, which is the fat that hangs out around your vital organs. You don’t think it’s a big deal but in reality you put yourself at risk for:

• heart disease
• type II diabetes
• stroke
• breast cancer (women)
• colorectal cancer
• sleep apnea (men)
• and the list goes on...

Skinny fat is really having a body fat percentage that is higher than recommended for your age and gender. In general, for men you want to have a body parentage between 15-20%, women 20-25%. Your body fat percentage is more important than the number on the scale or your Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI should be removed completely as a medical term. It’s a formula that’s calculated based on weight and height.

Body fat percentage can be measured with several different tools that calculate the percent of fat to muscle in your body. You obviously want more muscle than fat because it helps you move better, burn fat, and reduces your risk for several health problems. Almost any gym has equipment to measure your body fat percentage. There is one slight problem; all the various tools for calculating this number (bioelectrical impedance, skin folds, DEXA, Bod Pod) will give you different numbers. My suggestion, pick one method and use that each time. You might not get the most accurate reading but you will notice a trend, hopefully a positive trend.

The best way to keep track of this number without fancy equipment is your pants. If your pants are tight, eat better and exercise more. If your pants fit perfect, then you’re maintaining your weight. How you look and feel in your clothes is always a good indicator, unless your dryer shrinks everything.

Keeping your body fat in check is done with exercise and diet. Eating healthy will help you lose fat and muscle. Weight lifting helps you build muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more efficiently you burn calories. I’m not suggesting you bulk up like Arnold back in the day, but a few pounds of muscle usually isn’t a bad thing. Aside from using steroids, Arnold was also genetically gifted. Most of us can lift weights without looking like a “Hans.”

For more information on body fat percentage and wellness contact me at rkrit@fitwithkrit.com.

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