Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Are You Skinny Fat?

Oh, you know the type. Lean and tall, croissant in one hand while the other hand is pulling up the skinny low rise jeans that are barely being held up by a non existent pot belly. Let's give her a cigarette, just to villainize her a little bit. Okay, take away the cigg. I'm just being jealous. A girl that slender must be healthy. Right?

Wee woo. Sorry, skinny. Turns out you can be fat on the inside, too.

This week's Today Show featured a segment called "Take it off Today!" (catchy, I know) that did a follow up story on an attractive middle aged woman named Nancy. Thin, blond, and tan and seemingly athletic, you would think by her appearance that she was 100% the picture of health. At 5'7", 140 lbs, and a BMI of 22, Nancy's body fat percentage was 27%. A normal body fat percentage should be at or below 25%. Nancy is considered obese by these standards.

Today show contributor Joy Bauer tested Nancy with body fat calipers, which you can find at your local gym or you can purchase yourself (you'll need some assistance to squeeze 'em), but she also recommends using hydrostatic weighing like you see on The Biggest Loser or buying a scale that tests body fat percentage. Testing yourself is important because having a high body fat percentage causes inflammation of your internal organs and can lead to such serious problems as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.

In 8 weeks, Nancy was put on a program of cardio for 30 minutes, 5 times a week that consisted of walking and Zumba classes that helped to burn body fat. She also did manageable, at-home weight training sessions for 15-20 minutes, 2 times a week that increased her lean muscle mass and helped burn more fat and tone her body. Joy also looked at Nancy's diet and helped her in making more mindful choices: More veggies, less pasta, smaller portions, and a little less dessert.
At the end of the 8 weeks, Nancy didn't just get to 25% body fat. She blew through to 22%! All by making simple, sustainable changes that cost little to nothing. Nancy says she feels stronger, more energetic, and more healthy.

Don't assume your weight is an end all indicator of your health! Healthful eating and exercise is the start to being healthy inside and out!


  1. Totally - I know a lot of skinny fat people. I might be technically overweight for my height, but I've got a lot of muscle in there. So I guess I'm fat skinny? :)

  2. TOTALLY! All hail the fat skinny people!

    Ali :)