Skinny-fat is just as dangerous as fat-fat...

Torso of a skinny fat man measuring his waist line

What is skinny fat?

You’ve probably heard the term “skinny-fat,” but what the hell does that mean? Well, it probably means different things to different people. Skinny AND fat seem to be ultra arbitrary these days, but… at The Fittest, we tell it like it is and being fat, whether you’re fat-fat or skinny-fat is less healthy than not being fat at all. So… according to us, skinny-fat is the seemingly science-defying quality of being thin whilst also maintaining a fairly large amount of fat around the middle… also known as a spare tire, beer belly, love handles, and a host of other funny names. And… as it turns out, being skinny-fat is just as dangerous to your health and wellbeing as being fat from noggin to toenail.


Visceral fat.

Visceral fat, also known as abdominal fat and all the other fun names we mention above, is a type of fat that accumulates around the abdominal cavity and surrounds vital organs such as the liver, pancreas, and intestines. Unlike subcutaneous fat, which is found just below the skin, visceral fat is deep inside the body and can kick your ass. While some amount of body fat is necessary for energy storage and insulation, excess visceral fat is super dangerous to health.

The dangers of visceral fat are aplenty, ranging from an increased risk of chronic diseases to reduced quality of life, to being rendered unattractive to potential mates… though that may not matter much to a skinny fat individual as it wreaks havoc on testosterone and libido.

Metabolic health...

One of the primary dangers of visceral fat is its association with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, which we opine on often, is a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess belly fat, that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Visceral fat is particularly harmful because it releases hormones (not the good ones) and other chemicals that can disrupt the body's normal metabolic processes, leading to insulin resistance and inflammation.

Heart disease...

Visceral fat is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Studies show that skinny-fat folks are more likely to develop heart disease and have a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. This is due to the fact that visceral fat is metabolically active and can release inflammatory cytokines and other garbage that contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, a fancy way of saying that fatty deposits build up in the arteries and lead to heart disease.


If that wasn’t bad enough, visceral fat is also linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Research has found that individuals with higher levels of visceral fat are more likely to develop cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate. This is due to the fact that visceral fat releases those aforementioned bad hormones which promote the growth and spread of cancer cells.


If it isn’t already obvious, being skinny-fat reduces quality of life. Excess abdominal fat can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as bending over or climbing stairs. It can lead to sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing stops and starts during sleep, and can result in daytime fatigue. In addition, physical fatness, skinny or otherwise, can contribute to depression and anxiety, as individuals may feel self-conscious about their appearance or worried about their health.

Now that we’ve scared the hell out of you by telling you all the ways that spare tire is killing you, it’s probably a good idea to share the good news: You DON”T have to be any type of fat, whether it be skinny-fat, morbidly obese, or somewhere in between. If you’re overweight all over, quit reading this and email us. We’ll help you like we’ve helped countless people before you. But… if you’re skinny-fat, keep reading because we have a few tips unique to your specific conundrum.

What's the solution?

If you’re thin everywhere but your belly, chances are you do one or more of these things:

  • Drink alcohol. This one is easy… Don’t do it anymore. They call it a beer gut for a reason. You don’t need us to tell you it’s not good for you. We’d go into the science behind this one, but that’d be a waste of your time and ours. Alcohol bad. Got it?
  • Sleep poorly. Having too much belly fat can result from low amounts of restorative slow wave sleep, which is where you produce most of your growth hormone. Reasons for this could be late eating, which inhibits melatonin production, and keeps cortisol levels high… kicking your ass. It could be alcohol consumption, which we covered. It could be inconsistent bed times… and a whole bunch of other things. Click here for ways to sleep better.
  • Prioritize cardio, especially steady state cardio, over weight training. So many people think they’re helping themselves by hitting the treadmill, the elliptical, or whatever else, pounding out hours of cardio that is neither endurance building Zone 2 cardio or muscle-building anaerobic sprinting. This is bad for a host of reasons, from tanking testosterone, to damaging the heart, to wasting muscle. Absolutely do Zone 2 cardio (60-70% of max heart rate) a couple times per week and sprinkle in sprints, but to get rid of the gut, you really want to lift heavy things. This will have you redistributing weight from the abdomen to more aesthetically pleasing areas. Building muscle is essential to eradicating stubborn belly fat that really isn’t that stubborn at all if you’re doing the right things. Click here for workout programming.
  • Not eating enough protein. If you’re not eating enough protein you can’t build muscle and you’re likely ALSO eating your calories in the form of things you REALLY don’t need, that won’t help you AT ALL. For a synopsis of how to eat for optimal health and an optimal physique, click here.

Still need help? Email our lean, mean performance experts. 

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