Are you Skinny Fat and How to tell?

Are you Wobbly or Solid?

Have you noticed that some people seem to wear ‘fat’ better than others. Fat lying just under our skin is called subcutaneous and it tends to wobble. On the other hand other fat appears more solid. Visceral fat is packed around the organs. I frequently hear some people being described as ”big” rather than “fat”.  

The Mayo Clinic Image shows it really well.

Apple, Pear, TOFI

We carry our weight differently. We already know the apple versus pear image of where fat is carried, high in the body or around the hips and buttocks. How would you describe the visceral fat? Michael Mosley  describes it as‘TOFI’ thin on the outside, fat on the inside.

How do you find out if you are TOFI?

A dexa scan, CT or MRI  are the most accurate method of measuring visceral fat. Visceral fat surrounds our organs in the middle and chest area of our body. It is dangerous because it is more metabolically active, meaning it moves in and out of storage. When you get stressed, this fat comes into the blood so stress management  is very important if you have high visceral fat. I have a 12 step article on my site addressing stress management that you may find interesting. Subcutaneous fat, especially around the bottom and thighs is considered less dangerous as it remains stored. Another interesting fact is that toxins are stored in our fat cells to keep us safe so when you lose weight, they are released with the fat. Eat well during weight-loss to help your liver clear waste and toxins from the body.

My Tanita Analyzer Scale assesses visceral and overall body fat %, not as accurately, but it gives me a starting figure and we work from there to an agreed goal.

Measuring your waist at the belly button and your chest at nipple level will also help you to see stored fat disappearing. Ideally a woman’s waist should be <32 inches and a man < 40 inches.  If it is higher and you are not wobbly, you may be packing visceral fat.

Regardless of where fat is stored, it is a weight on our bones and is not good for the skeleton or muscles.  It slows us down and can affect our mood and self-esteem. I recall being told by a client who came to me for weight-loss that 1lb of fat is the equivalent of 3lbs in terms of its force on her knees and she was told to lose weight by her surgeon, before he would operate and replace her knee. According to Harvard Medical Review “When you walk across level ground, the force on your knees is the equivalent of 1½ times your body weigh”. Whatever the figure, the message is clear.

What controls Fat Storage?

Genetics play a role on where we “wear” fat but food and exercise are 2 primary factors that we can take control of to change our health outcome.

Strength Training, not necessarily lifting heavy weights, is the most effective way of shifting visceral fat.  

Aerobic exercise, which is anything that gets your heart rate up and gets you breathing faster will use you blood stores of energy (food) and dip into some stored energy in your muscles and liver.

High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) is extremely effective at using up and releasing carbohydrate stores from your liver and muscles really fast and thereby demanding stored fat to be released into the blood stream to fuel the muscles. Metabolically active fat which is visceral fat will be pulled out and burnt up.

When you build a stronger muscular body you reduce the risk of most diseases but just be careful to avoid over-doing it and getting injuries.

Ideally, combine all of the above forms of exercise along with meditation and yoga.

What is a healthy body fat %

Female : (20yrs – 60yrs) is 22% to 33% body fat.

Male:  (20yrs to 60yrs) is 8% – 22% body fat.

A good body fat loss goal is 1% to 2% a month.

I am a weight-loss nutritionist and am pretty obsessed with this area of health. If you need help losing weight, contact me.

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