How can you tell if a person is “skinny fat”? The term itself is confusing. How can someone be skinny and fat at the same time? And what is causing the skinnyfatness? Will doing only cardio make you skinny fat?
Being skinny fat is having low muscle mass and high body fat despite not appearing overweight. Doing only cardio or excessive amounts of cardio will make you skinny fat as it can interfere with strength and muscle growth. The loss of muscle will decrease the amount of fat you burn.
I’m quite certain you still have a ton of questions going through your mind, let’s go into more detail, shall we?
Will Doing Only Cardio Make You Skinny Fat?
A person is considered “skinny fat” when he/she appears to be in the normal weight range or appears to be skinny but has an excessive amount of body fat. Skinny fat people have a high amount of body fat and have low muscle mass.
Why and how do people become skinny fat? This body type is usually the result of poor diet, too much cardio, and/or genetics.
There are so many people that will tell you that the key to weight loss and getting slim is to do cardio — and lots and lots of it!
An adequate amount of cardio can aid in weight loss but doing only cardio can make you lose both fat and muscles.
Cardio is ineffective for both muscle growth and fat loss which is why doing only cardio will make you skinny fat.
Effects of Doing Too Much Cardio
People usually do cardio to burn off extra calories. And we all know the way to lose weight is to burn off more calories than you consume, so performing cardio seems like the way to go to get slim, right?
Well, not really…
Too much cardio can actually decrease the amount of muscle tissue you have and also can cause a decline in your performance.
Performing a moderate amount of cardio can burn off most of the calories from fats and carbohydrates. However, if you increase the amount of cardio you perform, it will end up also burning the calories from protein which you need to maintain and gain muscle. And like we discussed, lacking muscle is a factor in appearing skinny fat.
Plus, the increased stress levels or increased cortisol levels caused by excess cardio can result in fat storage, mostly around the core or midsection.
How to Stop Being Skinny Fat and Actually Get Lean
Now that we know why doing mainly cardio will make us skinny fat, let’s find out what we can do to get rid of the flab and get our dream bod!
Do Resistance Training
Doing resistance training or strength training is the best way to get rid of the skinnyfatness! Performing resistance training is the best way to strengthen your lean body tissue.
The goal isn’t to lose any muscle, the goal is to lose fat. This is why you should do strength training, not just cardio. Strength training is the most effective exercise that can maintain and build muscle. Additionally, it can increase your metabolic rate!
You can do strength training using weights and/or using your body weight.
If you are stressing about the fact that you don’t have weights or a gym membership, don’t worry, you can use your body weight to get toned and get abs.
Just make sure to consistently increase the intensity of your workouts to continuously see progress. Every time you start feeling that your workouts are getting easy, you can start increasing the reps or start by adding more sets to make the exercises challenging again.
When you challenge your muscles by doing strength training, you create microtears to the muscle. During the recovery period, your muscle fibers will heal themselves. This is when your muscles will get stronger and transform.
Diet is a huge factor in getting rid of body fat and gaining lean muscles. Working out alone won’t get you the results you want.
Start with cutting back on processed, refined, and fast food! These types of food are filled with ingredients that will make you gain body fat, which is why you have to minimize the amount you eat as much as possible. It’s okay to have cheat meals once in a while but do not overdo it, and do not binge on your cheat days!
Next, you will need to consume more protein. Protein will help you maintain and build muscles. Since the goal is to not be skinny fat anymore and actually get lean, we will need lean muscle tissues! And protein is what you will need to get them.
Then, you’ll need to lessen your carbohydrate intake. Reduce the refined carbs you are eating and add more veggies to your diet. Vegetables have fewer calories and have more fiber.
Which reminds me…
Take in more soluble fiber since it aids in digestion and helps overall fat loss!
Lastly, do not think of your “diet” as a temporary fix. Crash dieting can result in muscle loss and binge eating, which could actually prevent weight loss. Most people who do crash diets end up gaining all the weight they lost back. Even worse, some people actually end up being heavier than their initial weight.
Moderate Amount of Cardio
You can still do cardio! I’m not saying you should stop doing cardio altogether. I am just saying that when it comes to getting lean, unlike resistance training. Cardio can burn a lot of calories, however, doing cardio will not make you gain muscle as effectively as strength training.
The amount of cardio each person should do in order to tone up varies per individual. If you are strength training, doing 2-3 cardio sessions per week is enough. You can do an average of 20 minutes per cardio session.
If you are used to doing long cardio sessions, you may be wondering how is 20 minutes enough to burn a significant amount of calories? Doing HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is a great way to burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time!
HIIT vs Cardio
High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT exercises are short bursts of high-intensity workouts combined with short periods of low-impact exercises or rests. HIIT workouts are generally shorter than regular cardio exercises.
High-Intensity Interval Training is excellent for getting toned because it can burn a high number of calories in a short period of time. HIIT is more effective at losing body fat than long-winded cardio sessions. So why not do that instead? Plus, it will save you a ton of time!
I’ve answered some related questions you may have about transforming your body from skinny fat to lean and fit:
How long does it take to go from skinny fat to toned?
Everyone is different and each body functions differently. The period of time that a body can transform from being skinny fat to toned varies per individual depending on how much initial fat there is to lose, the intensity of the workouts, and, how clean the nutrition is. On average, most people will see changes around 3 to 6 months. Beginners who have never worked out regularly will usually see faster results compared to people who regularly exercise.
What causes skinny fat?
Being skinny fat is a result of having excessive body fat, usually around the midsection, and not having enough muscle mass. Skinny fat can be caused by poor diet, not eating enough protein, not working out, doing excessive cardio, not doing resistance training, genetics.
To fix a skinny fat body type — generally, you must eat enough protein, consume proper nutrition, do strength training regularly, and do HIIT instead of cardio.