Male Skinny Fat
Q) Hey Akash. I can see that you have helped hundreds of Skinny Fat guys build a good Lean physique. I am a male skinny fat. I have 24 percent body fat. Should I keep cutting until I hit 18-20 percent and then bulk? Or should I start bulking now?
A) Hello. Thanks for your question. A Skinny-Fat person is thin but has belly fat. I was a typical example:
Although I had some muscle in the before picture, more than 90% of my fat came from my belly and face. This is worse than being Skinny.
I repeat, being skinny-fat is worse than being skinny.
Not only do you look weird, but your health takes a toll. You see, fat around your Belly is different than fat on other body parts.
Subcutaneous fat: This is the fat we store underneath the skin.
Visceral fat: This is fat that surrounds our organs; it is the deep fat that you cannot pinch.
Belly fat has both types of fat, but more of the latter.
Health Problems Associated With Visceral Fat
This is the fat that surrounds the organs. Some amount of fat is required for the cushioning of the organs, but when this fat exceeds, it creates issues. A common example is a Fatty Liver [See Above]
Now, it’s common knowledge that anyone who is within the BMI range would be considered healthy, and anyone who is overweight will have health issues.
Reality is far from this. It’s not necessary that if you are thin, you are healthy or vice versa. Today’s heavy reliance on refined carbs, high corn fructose sugar, and other junk is creating a new type of disease which Dr. Mark Hyman terms ‘MONW’ (metabolically obese normal weight).
It means you are normal weight but has fat—less muscle, high fat i.e. Skinny Fat.
-A study in the Journal of American Medical Association says that 1 in 4 skinny people have pre-diabetes and are ‘metabolically obese.’ 1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22871870/
-According to another study, the thin-fat phenotype and global metabolic disease risk are growing rapidly and are prevalent in India. 2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21892076/
Here are five things I did to transform myself from Skinny-Fat to Lean:
1) I Lowered My Fasting Insulin Levels To Less Than 5
When you eat refined carbs, your insulin is released at a faster pace leading to fat storage and, over time, insulin resistance. Once you have insulin resistance, you become pre-diabetic, and over time it leads to full-borne type 2 diabetes.
Here’s how I lowered my insulin levels:
For about a month, I cut my carb intake to less than 100. My intake of carbs was mainly in the form of:
-Rotis (made from coarse grains and not the typical ‘atta’ that you find in supermarkets)
-I gradually increased it to about 200–250 grams.
2) I Dramatically Increased My Intake Of Healthy Fats From 10% To 30%
Healthy fats are your buddy. Don’t be scared of them. I started eating whole eggs, whole-fat milk, coconut oil, nuts, omega-3 etc.
Related Article: Good Fat Vs. Bad Fat: Complete List And Chart
3) I Lowered My Protein Intake (Surprise!!)
More protein is not the answer to more muscle. In the end, your body does extra work in clearing out the excess nitrogen, and the unused protein gets stored as fat. I was eating 180g and lowered it to 120g and have maintained it ever since.
4) I Stopped Overtraining 5-6 Times Using High-Volume Training
Being a skinny-fat guy, you have the weak genetics to build muscle (yeah, they do matter). All Skinny guys will do well on low-volume, heavy-weight lifting in the rep range of 5–7.
Some periodization can be included over the course of a year by increasing the rep range to around 8–10 but no more. This is super important. Pump training will be futile for you.
5) I Avoided The Fatal Skinny-Fat Mistakes
I was in the same situation as you were. Stop thinking about bulking and cutting, and think Lean. Yes, most skinny-fat guys are nowhere close to their genetic potential of gaining muscle.
And therefore, with the right strategies and methods, they can lose fat and build muscle at the same time. You need to be less than 15%, ideally at 10-12%, before you can think about bulking up!!
24% is a lot of fat. Even thinking about bulking up at 18–20% is a mistake the same I made. Your insulin sensitivity will be quite high, and you will end up gaining more fat than muscle.
Just give yourself 3-6 months and completely focus on losing fat by being in a caloric deficit and aim to get stronger in the weight room. This will take care of your muscle.
You don’t need to be in a caloric deficit to build muscle. This is a myth.
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About Akash Sehrawat
Akash is a creator of 25+ programs and certificate courses in which more than 200,000 students have enrolled both on Udemy and Fabulous Body's native platform. Akash is also an author of three books that can be found on Amazon. His answers on Quora have gathered more than 12 million views in less than a year.