“I don't weigh much but I have a big belly. What should I do?”

Skinny arms and legs, proper weight, and too big belly, which cannot be hidden even under loose clothes. It's hard to be satisfied with the body in such situation, although it may seem that happiness is so close (you just need to “improve” the belly because the rest is quite fine). However, it's good to know that such problem, in reality, is not only aesthetic but also health-related! What can we do, concerning nutrition, not to make this problem worse?

“Skinny fat” and the metabolic obesity with normal body weight

The skinny fat figure is mentioned when the body composition is disrupted – there isn't enough muscle tissue, whereas the percentage of body fat is too high. What's important, in case of such disproportion, not only aesthetic defect is mentioned, but also some serious health consequences – the risk of occurring the following diseases: atherosclerosis, high blood pressure or diabetes is increased, just like for obese people. Unfortunately, this aspect is often trivialized not only by the individuals who have it, but also by doctors and dietitians who do not see any problem until the BMI is correct!

What is characteristic for people with the skinny fat figure?

The individuals with the skinny fat figure usually have highly incorrect ratio between waistline and hips circumference, as well as a noticeable disproportion in the body aesthetics. There is also wrong lipid economy (increased level of triglycerides and the LDL cholesterol, lowered HDL cholesterol), which can be accompanied by the insulin resistance. The inflammation processes are also much stronger (increased level of CRP), which fosters the development of many diseases. As it can be seen, gathering body fat in the central part of the body may be a real problem.

How should we act when food is concerned?

In this situation it's good to consider the matter of nutrition with precision and consideration, because it is easy to lead to worsening the disproportion of the body. I don't want to concentrate on bans and limits only, I would like to pay attention to the thing you should do with the menu and lifestyle most of all:

  • meals should be based on low-processed, highly nutritious food products,

  • it's good to include nutritious proteins in each meal, especially in breakfast, which can help to control the appetite,

  • It's good to think about the rotation in eating carbs, moving their consumption to the workout time or an evening (the scientific research prove that moving carbohydrates from the earlier meals to the evening time helps to improve the body composition)

The improvement of the quality of eaten food mixed with choosing the healthiest thermal treatment (e.g. steaming, boiling,simmering, grilling, short frying) is the basic matter connected with enhancing the skinny fat body aesthetics, which is typical for people who eat a lot of refined sugars (sweets, fast food meals, white flour products) poor in nutritious proteins (meat, fish, unprocessed dairy products) and healthy sources of fat (e.g. fat sea fish, eggs, olive oil, almonds). It's also worth underlining that, apart from the nutrition matter, the following issues will influence the effectiveness of progress:

  • physical activity (exercises with load are especially advised),

  • optimum length of sleep (sleep deficit or poor quality of sleep may deepen the existing problem).

What should we remember about?

In case of a body shape characterized with excess body fat and muscle deficit, typical 'slimming' should be avoided – too big energy deficit connected with lack of basic nutrients is the worst action we can do with a skinny fat figure. When setting calorific deficit, a far-reaching cautiousness should be kept, concentrating on the improvement of quality of the included meals, as well as drinks. The disturbed body composition, accompanied with normal body weight, can be often observed among people who smoke cigarettes, that's why breaking up with this addiction may be helpful during bringing back the proper body composition.


The skinny fat figure is becoming a more common, not only aesthetic, problem. It can be observed among men and women, who often use slimming strategies in a wrong way. In order to improve body composition, one should reconsider the current way of eating and lifestyle.