Skinny Fat – too thin and too thick at the same time

Do you have a slim figure but sometimes feel a bit "fat"? This is called skinny fat and in this article we show you how to look more defined.

What is Skinny Fat?

Being skinny fat means the affected person feels thin on the one hand, but fat on the other. According to the BMI calculator, they have a normal weight. However, the BMI calculator only takes body weight and height into account. Skinny fat people have a relatively high body fat percentage and few muscles.  

Should body fat be lost first or should muscles be built up?

The real problem with skinny fat is not that you are too fat, but rather that you have less muscle. That's why you should do more strength training to build muscle and not stick to the BMI calculator. It would be best to build muscle before losing body fat. Here is an example to illustrate in more detail why it is better to build muscle first. 

Non-muscular man: 1.85 m tall, 70 kg and 18 % body fat = 12.6 kg body fat mass.

But what if the person continues to gain weight by building muscle and maintains the 12.6 kg of fat? For example, the person puts on 20kg of muscle in 3 years through strength training and a high protein diet, then he would have a more muscular appearance. The body is more defined and therefore the body fat percentage would be 13% instead of 18%, but the amount of fat in kg is still the same.

How can you avoid skinny fat?

Not too much cardio

Although cardio can help you lose fat, it also encourages muscle breakdown. The body is put under less intense strain during endurance training and breaks down the muscles that are not needed. If there is less muscle, the basal metabolic rate is correspondingly lower. You should be careful not to eat more than usual to avoid gaining weight.

Correct nutrition

The protein content of your diet should be kept high in order to maintain or build up your muscles. At least 1.5 g -2 g per kg body weight is needed daily.

More muscle mass

Fat alone is not the reason you don't look defined, but low muscle mass is. If you have more muscle mass, your body fat percentage will also decrease and your skin will be tighter. This can make you look more defined. Building muscle is achieved through calorie surplus and strength training.

Doing cardio properly

Cardio training is good for the cardiovascular system, but you should make sure you do the right amount. A maximum of 2 to 3 times a week is sufficient. You should not do it for too long, but do it more intensively.

Skinny fat body type

The term 'skinny fat' refers to someone who appears thin on the outside but may have a higher body fat percentage internally. Some key characteristics of a skinny fat body type:

  • Little to no visible muscle tone. While the person appears thin, there is no definition or tone in the arms, legs or torso.
  • Higher body fat percentage. Even though the person looks thin, a higher percentage of their body composition is made up of fat vs. muscle. This can lead to health issues like higher risk of heart disease or diabetes.
  • Lack of strength or endurance. Without significant muscle, a skinny fat person may struggle with strength, stamina or endurance for exercise or physical activities. They have a more difficult time building muscle.
  • Potential unhealthy lifestyle habits. A skinny fat body type is often the result of a sedentary lifestyle with a diet high in processed carbs and sugar but low in protein and nutrients. Addressing lifestyle habits is key to improving body composition.

The solution for a skinny fat body type is to focus on strength or resistance training to build muscle, in addition to healthy eating and cardio exercise. Building more muscle through weight training will boost metabolism and improve body composition.

A balanced diet with adequate protein and nutrients is also important. Making sustainable lifestyle changes can help shift from a skinny fat to a healthier body type.


How to get rid of skinny fat? You should pay attention to a protein-rich diet, do more strength training and less cardio training to build up muscles. This is because they make you look defined and lower your body fat percentage.

Reference: number 19. on the PDF

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