The desire to be thin and beautiful is widespread. Women everywhere are partaking in ridiculous dieting gimmicks, eating 1,200 calories a day, and essentially starving themselves skinny.

What Is Skinny Fat?

Skinny fat is looking thin but lacking lean muscle tissue and energy. The common perception is that if you are overweight, you are unhealthy and if you are thin, you are healthy.

Why Being Skinny Doesn’t Mean You’re Healthy

New research is showing us just how dangerous being skinny can be. Skinny fat, or metabolically obese normal weight, means you are under lean but over fat — essentially, not enough lean muscle and too much body fat (especially belly fat).

We all know that obesity is a growing problem, with over 68% of Americans falling into the obesity category, but skinny fat might actually be worse for your health. According to new studies, 37% of skinny teenagers had one or more signs of pre-diabetes such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or high cholesterol.

Why strive for skinny when you can strive for healthy, strong, and toned instead?

How To Overcome The Skinny Fat Epidemic

The great news about skinny fat is that it’s a problem with a solution. A healthy diet and activity overhaul is the best thing you can do for your body and health.

Don’t follow the skinny fat trend – go for strong instead. Strong is the new skinny.

Strength Training and Cardio

Activity must include both cardio and strength training. Most people fall into the cardio trap and forget that cross-training is of vital importance. Cardio improves metabolism and endurance, enhances cardiovascular health, and burns some extra calories. Strength training provides you with a metabolic spike, includes multi-joint exercises, and builds lean muscle tissue. The more muscle you have, the more fuel (calories) you are constantly burning.

Cardio, on its own, is not an effective way to shrink fat cells and is incredibly hard on joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons — and the cartilage in between. Strength training alone does less for cardiovascular health. Looking for an easy transition into strength training? Try yoga sculpt or resistance band training.

Start with a Low-Glycemic Diet (aka – Ditch The Sugar)

A low-glycemic diet consists of lean animal protein (eggs, chicken, oily fish, lean beef), nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, brown rice, vegetables, fruit, and minimal grains (preferably of the gluten-free variety as often as possible.) Print out the Clean Eating Grocery List and bring it along next time you hit the grocery store.

Amp Up The Protein 

Begin your morning with a healthy protein shake and incorporate protein into each and every meal. Protein allows your metabolism to run more efficiently and reduces feelings of hunger. High-protein foods include beans, peanut butter, soybeans, eggs, nuts, seeds, chicken, fish, turkey, yogurt, and protein powder.

Say Goodbye to the ‘Wicked Whites’

White flour, white sugar, white salt, bleached wheat flour, white rice, and white potatoes. These items are nutritionally void and usually do more damage than good. Replace these foods with almond flour, coconut sugar, pink Himalayan salt, whole wheat flour, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.

Stop Drinking Your Calories

It’s time to cut out soda, processed juices, sweetened drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks (yes – even Gatorade), and alcohol. These beverages are loaded with sugar, excessive calories, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Switch to pure H20, infused waters, electrolyte enhanced waters (I recommend NUUN), kombucha, green and black teas, fresh-pressed juices, and natural fruit smoothies.

Avoid Over-Proccessed Frankenfoods

As I stated in The Scary Seven, it can be hard to recognize the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to ingredients in our foods. Label reading is key for healthy eating. Avoid foods with MSG or “natural flavoring” (MSG in disguise), artificial colors, preservatives, additives, high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, and chemicals.

Love Your Fatty Acids

Healthy fats are you friend and an important part of a healthy diet! They provide essential fatty acids, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel. Your diet should include healthy fat rich foods such as wild-caught salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, flax oil, halibut, fish oil, coconut oil, and avocado.

Supplement Wisely

Personally, I am not a huge fan of recommending supplements. I feel they are used as a crutch for a poor diet. Essential vitamins & minerals should to be coming from a balanced and nutritious diet. If a boost is necessary, choose a multivitamin made from whole food complexes (such as New Chapter One A Day), a good fish oil (EPA/DHA), vitamin D, a live probiotic (this should be found in a refrigerated section), and a protein powder with minimal additives.

Vegans (and possibly vegetarians – diet depending) should always be supplementing with vitamin B-12 (which is only found in animal-based foods) unless they are eating fortified cereals, grains, and yeast products.

Get Plenty Of Sleep

People often underestimate how much a good nights rest can positively affect our body. Sleep deprivation alters metabolism and increases cravings for sugar and carbs. 8 hours is what the average person needs per night, but not everyone falls under average and 8 hours certainly isn’t set in stone. Some people need more, some people need less. Keep track of how many hours you are sleeping and when you feel your best during the day. Strive for 7-8 and see how you are feeling. Most people fall painfully short due to over-packed schedules.

5 Comments on Why Being Skinny Doesn’t Mean You Are Healthy

  1. Elizabeth
    January 6, 2014 at 8:20 am (4 years ago)

    I think these are all great guidelines. So many people underestimate the whole “drinking calories” part. I’d rather eat a cheeseburger than drink a huge soda (or insert any calorie- and sugar-filled drink). But that’s my preference. I definitely try to limit the “whites” and we do a decent job of it in our house. As a group-ex instructor and trainer-in-training, it always makes me laugh when I can’t get it through peoples’ heads that they just need a nice balance of cardio and strength! That’s it people. Burn the fat, tone the muscles. PiYo Strength (a format I teach) is a GREAT way to tone 🙂

    • Toned & Fit
      January 6, 2014 at 11:26 pm (4 years ago)


      I’m glad you liked the article! Balancing cardio and strength training is crucial. So many women I talk to struggle with weight loss and are major cardio bunnies. You need some lean muscle mass if you’re going to shrink that excess body fat.

      – A

  2. Erin
    January 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm (4 years ago)

    Should I eat maintence calories or less than that to get rid of the skinny fat look?

    • Toned & Fit
      January 7, 2014 at 5:09 pm (4 years ago)


      I don’t know your exact body type but I always suggest clean eating (I don’t know your current caloric intake or numbers), amping up the protein, and starting a strength training/weight lifting routine.


      • Erin
        January 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm (4 years ago)

        I already eat very clean, lift weights, and perform HIIT. I am 5’9.5″, weigh around 123lbs., and eat about 2300 (maintenance with exercise). I am afraid to cut calories because I don’t want to get even skinnier, but bulking hasn’t helped in the past.

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