There is a mountain of information and advice out there for people who feel they are overweight and for people who feel they are underweight. Perhaps you weigh yourself and seem to be at an acceptable weight, but simply aren’t happy with how you look and feel. This may be a sign that you have become what has commonly been called “skinny fat.” Today we go through what this means and advise what you can do to achieve the body and lifestyle you have always dreamed of.

What is Skinny Fat?

So, what is being skinny fat exactly? While it isn’t a scientific term, skinny fat typically describes a person who is at a reasonable weight for their height and age but has a high proportion of body fat compared to muscle.

How to Tell If You’re Skinny Fat

While there are no clearly defined definitions for what skinny fat is, usually the easiest way to tell if you are skinny fat is visually. A skinny fat person will usually appear doughy with no clear muscle definition. They might have thin arms and a bit of a tummy but still appear skinny looking with a shirt on.

Physically, they may feel weaker than people who are built similarly to themselves and may also feel lethargic and unfit.

Why is Being Skinny Fat a Problem?

So what? Who cares as long as you appear skinny with a shirt on, right? While you may not be overly concerned with how you look while being skinny fat, there are some significant health implications to consider as well. When you are skinny fat you will have a higher proportion of internal fat, also known as visceral fat. Having large amounts of this fat can lead to complications such as heart disease, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and lower cognitive function.

So even if you are not concerned with how you look, it is worth combatting your skinny fatness for health reasons.

What Can You Do About It?

Luckily there are two straightforward things you can do about your skinny fatness, both of which revolve around building lean muscle. Skinny fat is the result of excess fat proportionally to your muscle mass. Once you have more muscle mass, the fat that you do have will be more flatteringly and healthily distributed throughout your body and be easier to burn off with increased muscle.

So how do you gain this muscle? Here are two key steps:

Resistance Training

Heavy resistance training is far and away the best type of exercise to help you put on lean muscle. There are many great resistance training routines available online that cover barbell training or even just body-weight training. Alternatively, you could approach a local trainer to build a plan specifically for your needs.

Track Your Macros & Calories

None of your hard work in the gym will mean a thing if you aren’t eating right. Muscles are made in the kitchen! The first thing you should do is calculate your TDEE (Totally Daily Energy Expenditure), which can be easily done through IIFYM’s TDEE calculator. This will tell you how many calories you need to consume to maintain your current weight.

When skinny fat, you should counter-intuitively aim for a 10% surplus in calories to help you pack on muscle. You can also consume maintenance calories, but this body fat recomposition will take much longer. You can track your macronutrients through the TDEE Calculator (Protein, Fat, Carbs) to ensure that you are eating enough protein to be the building blocks of your new muscles (the common advice is 1.2 – 1.7g of protein per kilo of body weight).

Achieve Your Goals with IIFYM

IIFYM is your go-to source for expert diet, exercise, and lifestyle advice. Our TDEE calculator is one of the many sophisticated tools that can help you with your weight loss, weight gain, or re-composition journey. Learn how to get started with IIFYM today.