The term skinny fat can be confusing – how can someone be skinny and fat at the same time? Well skinny fat people are those that look skinny in clothes, but have high body fat and low muscle mass. So underneath those clothes they actually look soft and flabby.
Both men and women can be skinny fat, but I’m just going to focus on skinny fat women in this blog post, and what they need to do to go from skinny fat to fit and toned.
Skinny fat women tend to carry most of the fat around their mid-section, especially hips and thighs. You know, the dreaded “muffin top / love handles” and “saddlebags.”
If you are skinny, but struggle with fat around your hips and thighs that you can’t seem to get rid of, then you might be skinny fat.
The skinny fat body is usually caused by one, two or all of these:
I often see the skinny fat syndrome in women who do lots of cardio and don’t do any resistance training. The cardio keeps them slim but doesn’t build enough muscle to keep their body fat levels down. As you get older, your metabolism naturally slows down. Building muscle helps to keep your metabolism up and your body fat levels down. Avoiding resistance training can cause the skinny fat look.
Eating a poor diet high in carbohydrates and refined foods will also cause you to look skinny fat and store a lot of excess body weight in the mid region.
Also, being skinny fat can be a genetic trait, so you can thank your parents for that! If you genetically have this body type, it is not impossible to change. With the right workout program and a good diet, you can become skinny and toned!
I should also mention that in some cases, being skinny fat can be caused by a range of health conditions including hypothyroidism, hormone imbalances, certain medications (such as the contraceptive pill and antibiotics), gut health issues, and more. If you have been exercising consistently (both cardio and resistance training) and eating a good diet for a long time, but still can’t seem to lose weight and tone up, then it could be worth seeing a health professional.
For skinny fat people who want to tone up and lose a bit of excess body fat, you will need to do a combination of resistance training and cardio.
As I mentioned above, it’s really important that you don’t neglect resistance training. Building muscle will help boost your metabolism and also reduce your body fat levels.
The resistance training should include both a mix of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and circuits using weights or body weight. HIIT is an awesome exercise for skinny fat people because it burns a really high number of calories in a short period of time. But the best part is, after your HIIT workout, you will continue to burn more calories. HIIT is one of the best exercises to get rid of the skinny fat body.
However, another really common complaint I hear from women is that they become too muscular when doing HIIT and lifting weights, particularly in their legs. I have written a blog post on how to lift weights without getting bulky, to help with this exact issue. It has some good guidelines and workout ideas that will help you tone up, without getting bigger and too muscular.
If you are already skinny, you don’t necessarily need to do a lot of cardio. But I do recommend it so that you stay slim with all of the HIIT and weight lifting you will be doing. Please have a read of this blog post on cardio and why it’s so important for getting lean legs.
The workout program below is only a framework to guide you. If you really want to get started and get results, it is best to have a proper plan to follow. You will be much more likely to stick to it and be consistent if you are able to follow a guide.
The workout program in my eBook is great for skinny fat women because the workouts will help you tone up and get rid of your skinny fat body, but without becoming bigger. If you are serious about getting results, then it is definitely worth investing time and money into yourself.
My weekly workout recommendation for a skinny fat person would include the following:
1-2 days of full body resistance training
You don’t need to lift heavy weights – you can use body weight only, lighter dumbbells, resistance bands, ankle weights and gliding discs. Just get those muscles working. Aim for a 30 minute resistance training workout.
Also, please have a look at the blog post I mentioned above some guidelines on how to lift weights without getting bulky.
1-2 days of high intensity interval training
As I mentioned, HIIT is amazing for getting rid the skinny fat look, and the workouts don’t need to take long! You can do a great HIIT workout in 20-30 minute.
Just be careful not to overdo it on lower body HIIT exercises such as burpees, jump squats, jump lunges, box jumps, etc as they can make your legs overly muscular. I have posted lots of different HIIT workouts that won’t cause bulk, so have a look at these for some workout ideas.
If you prefer not to do HIIT (especially endomorph women who may get bigger with HIIT), that’s OK. You can still get great results with full body resistance training, and I would aim for 3 sessions per week in total.
1-2 days of high intensity cardio
High intensity cardio can include exercises such as running, swimming, dancing, cycling, etc. Do something that you love so that you will actually stick to it! Keep your high intensity cardio workouts to 20-30 minutes (obviously if it’s a dance class or spin class, you can go longer).
Plus, it’s a great idea to try and fit in as much low intensity cardio as you can!
1-2 days of rest
It’s really important to give your body some time to rest and your muscles to recover. Overtraining can cause you to hold onto excess body fat, so if you feel like your body needs a break, give it one.
Skinny Fat Weekly Workout Schedule
So for example, your weekly workout schedule might look like this:
Diet plays a huge part in your body’s ability to lose weight, so you can’t just rely on a good workout program alone. If you don’t eat a good diet, you won’t get rid of the excess body fat.
In general, someone who is skinny fat and looking to lose excess body fat will follow similar guidelines to anyone that is trying to lose body fat.
You don’t need to do anything fancy with your nutrition. Just cut out the packaged foods (think anything unnatural that comes in a bottle, packet, tin or box), processed foods, fizzy drinks, sugary foods, deep fried food and anything that is “typical” junk food such as cakes and chocolate. I’m not saying that you can never eat it, just try to limit it to a few times per week and keep portion sizes under control!
It is becoming more and more well-known now that a diet lower in carbohydrates will help you lose weight quicker. Don’t cut out carbs completely though as your body still needs them and that’s where all the fiber is! You just need to be smart about it.
Fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes do contain carbohydrates, but they also contain a range of vitamins, minerals and fiber, which your body needs. I know your probably always hear people talking about fiber and how you should try to eat more of it. But it really does play a huge part in keeping you full and regular.
Aim for 2-3 pieces of fruit per day, and at least 5 serves of vegetables. This can be hard to do without consciously thinking about it, so you really need to make the effort.
Try to eat vegetables with every single meal and snack to get those 5 serves in. If you have smoothies for breakfast, add some spinach. If you have an omelette, add spinach and other green vegetables. Some of my favourite healthy snacks are carrot sticks and hummus, egg cups made from eggs and vegetables in muffin tins, and whole pieces of fruit.
Lunch and dinner are a little easier to eat vegetables – pack them in as much as you can! 1 cup of vegetables has very little calories in it compared to any other foods so will keep you full, fill you with nutrients and won’t result in weight gain.
It can also be hard to drink the required 2L of water per day if you’re not consciously thinking about it. Try recording your water intake for a couple of days to see how much you are actually drinking, and aim for 2-3L per day. This will also help with bloating. One of my favourite tips is to carry a water bottle around with you everywhere you go. It will help you drink more water!
To summarize all of the information above:
If you stick to a good workout and nutrition plan you will get results. But you need to be consistent and actually put in the work! Eating healthy for a few days and then binging, going out of for lots of meals, drinking alcohol or skipping workouts, will set you back. You need to be consistent!
If you need help with a plan, or you don’t know where to start with resistance training, or you tend to get bulky when you lift weights, then my eBooks are perfect for you!
My eBooks include a full workout and nutrition program which will help you get a lean and toned body, and get rid of your skinny fat body forever.
And because all of us are different, I have created separate eBooks for each of the 3 main body types.
Click here to find out more about my eBooks.