Are you skinny-fat?: Why your weight tells you nothing about your health
Ask five health experts how often you should step on the scales to weigh yourself and you’ll get 10 different answers.
But exercise physiologist Naomi Ferstera is in the never weigh yourself camp, for a simple reason: “The scales lie.”
That’s not to say the number on the scales isn’t an accurate indicator of how many kilograms you weigh — rather, that it tells you nothing about your body composition or your health.
“[It doesn’t tell you] how much muscle we have versus how much fat, and it certainly doesn’t tell us where that fat is located [on our bodies],” Ferstera explained to Today hosts Karl Stefanovic and Georgie Gardner.
Fat bundled up around the organs in your abdomen (aka visceral fat) is particularly dangerous, and you might be carrying a lot of it even if your weight falls within the “healthy range” — upping your risk of the diseases linked to obesity.
This condition, dubbed metabolic obesity, is better known by its nickname: “skinny-fat” (or overfat). Studies suggest more than a quarter of people who look lean might actually have dangerously high levels of visceral fat.
“People who are slim … are being lulled into this false sense of security that they’re healthy,” said Ferstera. “And on the flipside, people who are exercising and eating well might still be overweight, but are encouraged to lose more weight and have to adopt unhealthy habits to do so.”
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How to tell if you’re skinny-fat — and how to fix it
Ferstera suggested that if you think you’re skinny-fat, you probably are.
“If you’re not eating well, eating a lot of processed foods, if you’re not exercising and not taking care of yourself but you’re slim, there’s a good chance you are skinny-fat,” she said.
There’s a simple way to confirm: Visit your GP, who’ll conduct tests of your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar (glucose), insulin and liver function.
There’s no miracle fix to lose visceral fat, and Ferstera’s steps probably won’t surprise you: change what you eat (she’s an advocate of low-carb, high-fat diets); try intermittent fasting; and start high-intensity exercise to boost your fitness.
RELATED: Your healthy BMI could be hiding major health risks