Skinny Fat – Why Your Scale Weight is Not Always Important

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The scale. Everyone’s enemy. The ultimate dysfunctional, love-hate relationship.

The scale has only one function: To spit out a three digit number. This number is so powerful that most of us use it to define who we are.

Are you a good person? Are you a decent parent? Are you a proficient employee? Probably, but most of us define our current state of existence by our weight. We might be a good human, a good lover, and a good parent, but the scale reveals the only thing that matters…

But does it? Is weight the omnipotent number it’s cracked up to be?

No.

You can be skinny fat, or heavy lean. We will talk about this point in a moment. Before we do, let’s address just how infatuated we are with scale weight.

A Culture Obsessed With the Scale and Dieting

Weight Loss ScaleHow obsessed are we with weight loss? Here are some statistics from 2010 that paint a clear picture. During this year Americans spent about $60.9 billion trying to lose weight. [1] Here is a break down of that amount:

  • $21.15 billion spent on diet soft drinks.
  • $19.5 billion spent on gym memberships and health clubs.
  • $8.25 billion was spent on weight loss-related medical issues and surgeries, including diet drugs, hospital visits, etc. $5.77 billion alone was spent of bariatric surgeries.
  • $3.29 billion was spent on commercial weight loss centers.
  • $2.69 billion was spent on diet pills/supplements and meal replacement products.
  • $2.52 billion was spent on sugar replacing artificial sweeteners.
  • $2.32 billion was spent of diet foods and lower calorie alternatives.
  • $1.21 billion was spent on exercises videos and diet books.

At any given time approximately 50% of Americans are trying to lose weight. During 2012, roughly 108 million Americans were either dieting or desperately trying to maintain weight. This number was 96 million in 2008. It will continue to rise as we struggle to conquer the growing obesity epidemic.

To put this number in perspective, consider that in the year 2000 only 25% of Americans were calorie and diet conscious.

It should be noted that 90 to 95% of dieters that manage to lose weight regain it back within 1 to 5 years.

Weight and Body Composition

Scale weight does not tell a complete story. It is certainly not an indicator of health and appearance. This is an important point, because most adults don’t just want to be skinny; they want to look good (fit and sexy) and feel healthy.

You can be skinny and look saggy, frail and – well – not very sexy. The scale can also tell you that you are heavy-ish, yet you might be incredibly healthy and look fit, muscular and full of sex appeal.

This is why the term skinny fat is important.

A skinny fat individual might have a reasonable scale weight and BMI (body mass index), but have a body they despise. Skinny, yet flabby. Scale-friendly, yet anything but a lean body fat percentage.

On the other hand, you can have a heavy lean individual who looks amazing. By “heavy lean” I mean that their scale weight classifies them as being obese, but they carry around a minimal amount of body fat and look flat out amazing.

Here’s the big point: Body composition is more important than scale weight. What is body composition? It is the amount of fat you carry around relative to your overall scale weight.

A 200 pound man can carry around 60 pounds of fat or 15 pounds of fat. Which one looks better? Obvious answer is obvious. The man with only 15 pounds of body fat carries around a great degree of muscle mass. He looks lean, muscular, fit, and athletic.

It’s also likely that he’s healthier. Why? For the average man (non-genetic elite) a lean, muscular physique is forged with a clean diet, plenty of quality cardio, and resistance training. Here is a visual comparison:

Skinny Fat

A skinny fat individual with a poor body composition (little muscle, extra fat) likely:

  • Doesn’t exercise much. If they do exercise there is a focus on cardio and very little effort put into resistance/strength training.
  • Lacks the drive to limit portion sizes, and/or doesn’t worry too much about moderation or limiting overeating.
  • Consumes a diet that is high sugar, high flour, deep fried, and full of processed foods.
  • Eats very little in the way of fruits, veggies, nuts or other quality whole foods.
  • Frequently partakes in unmoderated alcohol consumption.

By improving your body composition, or losing fat and building/maintaining muscle, you will likely:

  • Improve your blood pressure
  • Sleep better
  • Have a great degree of confidence and self-love
  • See an improvement in physical endurance and energy
  • Experience less joint pain, especially in your knees and back
  • Improve blood circulation, working to lower your risk of heart disease
  • Experience a great degree of fertility
  • See an improvement in respiration and breathing
  • Lower risk for diabetes and improved insulin sensitivity

Related: Chick Here to Calculate Your Body Composition and Body Fat Percentage

Skinny Fat No More

Back to weight loss.

Right now you aren’t happy with your scale weight and want to lose weight. Let’s refine your goals a little bit. Instead of trying to drive the number on the scale down, focus on;

  1. Creating a slightly calorie deficit, about 300 to 500 calories below maintenance level. Click here to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
  2. Perform resistance training 3 to 4 times per week, focusing on improving strength over time. This is called progressive overload.
  3. Perform cardio 3 to 4 times per week for 15 to 20 minutes. This is for overall health, and to give your metabolism a slight boost.

Focus on losing about 1.5 to 2 pounds of weight each week. This will help to optimize body composition. You will lose fat while retaining as much muscle mass as possible. Be patient. It took you years to pack on the extra fat. Take your time and lose it the right way.

After you reach a more reasonable body weight, eat around maintenance level while focusing on strength training. Over the course of the next 6 to 24 months expect to add a little bit of muscle mass while losing fat.

Your body composition will change, You will look better, feel better, and while the weight on the scale might be remaining the same you will no longer be skinny fat.

More Help With Training and Diet

I have pieced together several rock solid resistance training workout options. They are all available here at Tiger Fitness:

If you need helping losing fat thew right way, check out the following resources;

References

1. Calorie Control Council National Consumer Survey, 2010 (http://www.aloriecontrol.org/press-room/trends-and-statistics)

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Name: Steve Shaw

Bio: I don’t believe in magic training systems or rep ranges. My philosophy is simple: remain consistent, use the best possible exercises, focus upon progression and enter the gym looking to maximize each set. When you maximize each set, you maximize progress. Easy, obvious, insanely effective.