By: Courtney LeVesque, Certified Personal Trainer

Skinny fat, a coined phrase that carries a heavy reality. But, what is the true weight of the term skinny fat anyway? The name alone suggests a confusing ideology. It may leave you wondering what it means and if your physique fits the name. The medical definition for skinny fat may give you a better indication of the problem; Metabolically Obese Normal Weight. 

Now of course you know, or at least have an idea, of the health problems those who fall into the obese category are up against, but you may not have realized those “skinny” folks face many of the same life-altering health issues. 

There are many reasons someone can fall into the skinny fat group, and sometimes more than one factor plays a role; chronic cardio, inadequate nutrition, metabolic issues, overindulging on adult beverages, and insufficient lean muscle mass, to name a few. Regardless of how, or why, you find yourself there, there are several ways you can change course, and bring your health back in balance. 

Like any other goals you set, working to move the needle from “skinny fat” to optimal health is going to take a mindful and dedicated approach. Try these guidelines to increase lean muscle, tone up and regain your health. 

Here are the 5 tips to help avoid “Skinny Fat”

Pay attention to what ends up on your plate.

It’s no secret, nutrition is the “make or break” point in living a healthy lifestyle. If you routinely fill your plate with high sugar, processed carbohydrates, and junk, you’ll likely watch your health decline. Focus on healthy whole foods which are minimally processed. 

Does the term cardio queen sum up your time at the gym?

If you find yourself pounding out another sweat sesh on the treadmill, or obsessing about getting more cardio, you may be spending most of that time burning lean muscle, tapping out your fuel sources, and leaving no room for building (or preserving) muscle. Try cutting your long cardio sessions down to shorter HIIT sessions (High Intensity Interval Training) and reap the benefits of cardiovascular training without risk of using your muscle as fuel.

Do you even lift bro?

Muscle plays a huge roll in your overall metabolism –  it increases your daily calorie intake needs, supports all the body’s activities, helps prevent injuries, and burns calories throughout the day, amongst others. So, do yourself a favor and aim to get 3 full bodyweight training sessions in a week.

Even 30 minutes of lifting can increase your muscle mass, and help increase your metabolic function. You’ll also reap the benefits of a functional, toned physique – that’s always a win.

Increase your protein intake.

Are you getting enough of the muscle-building macronutrient? Chances are if you’re filling up and prepackaged carbohydrates, you’re missing the mark for protein. Aim to take in 0.6 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of “optimal” body weight, and don’t be afraid to supplement with a healthy protein powder, like the Paleo(ish) Protein, if you find yourself shying away from getting it in (or if you’re busy and struggle to meet your protein goal often).

You get extra points for adding 20-30 grams of protein in post-workout – this helps repair muscle more quickly, and avoid some of the inevitable “muscle soreness” that comes after a grueling workout.

Get those zzz’s.

Even if you aren’t feeling symptoms of chronic fatigue, or a crash of energy every afternoon, your body could likely use more rest. Shoot for 7-8 hours nightly, and be sure to set yourself up for quality sleep.

Try cutting off screen time at least an hour before bed (this includes TV), enjoy a hot Epsom salt soak, practice some meditation, and try to finish your last meal at least 3 hours before you hit the sack.

I think it’s worth mentioning, and as important as any of the above tips, take it one step at a time. The key to sustainable results, and not wavering back to old habits is creating lifestyle changes that fit your day to day routine. Work on adding a few of the above mentioned tips in per week and build your momentum with results over time. 

For those of you who need help finding a weight training routine you can add in head over to the Wilderness Athlete Journal here, and check out the Wild Skills workouts.