Archive for December, 2012

Fitness protocol for the skinny fat

You may have heard of the coined up word skinny fat syndrome. While there is no exact meaning of skinny fat in the medical field, it sounds really confusing because how can a thin person be fat at the same time? Well, skinny fat is best defined as someone who is thin, but has localized fatty areas, like a muffin top or love handles (hips) or butt and thighs, saggy arms or even a fat moon face. I may sound like as if I am mocking on skinny fat people but in fact, I am one or shall I say I was one before due to my genetic makeup. Well, I still am a skinny fat by nature because I can never change my physiological structure but there are things that are in my control which makes up for the nurturing part for a skinny fat person not to look like one. I will repeat, being skinny fat is largely genetic in nature because during overfeeding or when we eat excess calories on a regular basis, we gain fat but the location where the excess body fat go is beyond our control. This is largely dictated by genetic fat distribution pattern. This is where the importance of diet alteration and exercise chimes in because the combination of the two serves as signaling to the body to direct the calories away to be deposited to the fat cells. In an ideal world, we would like to shuttle the majority of our excess calories in the muscle cells as opposed to be deposited as fat. However, the problem of most skinny fat people is having a low p-ratio. Again, I will note that there is a huge difference between a naturally lean person and a dieted down person. Unfortunately, I belong to the latter but it doesn’t mean that I am doomed to be skinny fat. To put things into context, it just mean that I may have to put extra amount of work in order for a skinny fat person like me to get lean or even to gain muscle.

As I have written down here, I was able to get down to my leanest state but I didn’t get contented with the amount of my muscle mass that is why I decided to add more calories back up to add muscle mass.

The point is, I was able to achieve my ultimate goal of having visible abs but I still lack the muscle mass density which is why I decided to increase my calorie intake back up again.



The point is, I surely gained some muscle mass but it also came along with some tagalong body fat. Body fat distribution pattern is consistent on a given individual. The last fatty area that goes away when we diet down is also the first body part that gets fat during overfeeding phase. To gain muscle, one must increase his calorie intake, the reverse is true for fat loss. Although we can apply the Culking approach which simply means cutting while bulking or losing fat while gaining muscle, we still need to focus on one goal or the other unless you want to infinitely try to catch your own tail desperately. As I have said earlier, diet and exercise can only send signals but will not change our physiological makeup which means in our quest to gain muscle also leads to some fat gain inevitably. The goal of Culking is to simply minimize the fat gain while adding muscle mass. In my opinion, Culking or recomping is the ideal cycle for skinny fat people. The progress may be slower compared to separate cycle of cutting and bulking alone, it prevents a skinny fat person to gain too much body fat.

The Culking

Focus on one goal at a time: decide whether you want to lose fat or add muscle mass then set your calorie intake based on your goal diet wise. Keep the protein intake constant at 1g per lb. of existing lean body mass(if you know what’s yours) or simply use the targeted body weight if you don’t know your body fat %. Depending on the level of leanness you wanted to get, protein intake may go up as the carbohydrates/ total calories go down. If you decide to add bulk, stick with the 1g/ lb. of protein intake. If you want to add bulk, keep the surplus calories at minimal level which may range from extra 250-500 calories a day which of course need to be adjusted based on real world changes/ results. When overfeeding though, it really doesn’t matter where you’re deriving your calories from in case you’re one of those who think that eating clean foods would yield less fat gain. Our body simply doesn’t work that way. During overfeeding phase, any excess calories that are not used to build muscle or expended as heat will be deposited as fat.


If there is one type of training of choice whether your goal is fat loss or build muscle, stick to heavy weight training. Personally, what I normally do is once I stop seeing my abs visibility, I immediately stop adding surplus calories in my diet and try to increase the numbers in my lifts as much as possible. This way, I can use the excess body fat that I put on while bulking to be used as energy or to even build muscle but in my experience, the former is likely to happen unless you can build muscle faster on a faster rate than you can lose fat but in that case, you won’t be skinny fat anyway. I think this is yet another reason why skinny fats were skinny fat because their body can synthesize body fat at a faster rate than they can build muscle. If you happen to fail to add progression in your lifts(tension overload) then take a deficit from the diet. This time, you’re going to do it in reverse; gradually decrease your calorie intake from 250-500 calories a day until you reach your desired leanness again. If the weights on the bar has stalled, expect no gains in return but since there are both the input(diet) and output(exercise) part that we can manipulate, it can be either depending on the context that I specified above.

I am now a lot leaner than my pictures above because I am trying to cut the excess body fat that I had put on when I was bulking. If you have any questions, post it up in the comments section below.