A most curious oxymoron from the urban dictionary, and very non-PC at that. Skinny-fat. One definition describes the term as ' A person who, while not overweight on the scales, lacks visible lean tissue (muscle). This person may look normal or underweight with clothes on, though they still have a large amount of body fat compared to muscle, resulting in a flabby appearance." Could this be you?
For many people, the bathroom scales are greeted every morning in robot-like fashion, to affirm the outcome of the eating habits of the day before. When the result is not so good, we may be tempted to blame the technology or even resort to putting it down to the thickness of clothes we are wearing, the amount of jewellery we have on or the extra fluid we have been drinking. Either way, we never really know the truth.
Whilst the scales and BMI (Body Mass Index) often steal the limelight as the best indicator of our state of fatness, relatively few people are actually measuring the changes that are going on inside and therefore miss the memo that either diet or exercise need to be improved.
When weight is used to calculate BMI, it does not distinguish between the proportion of weight due to fat or muscle. To find out your level of risk, it is important to measure other components of body composition and this can be done easier and more precisely than you might think.
For a more accurate predictor of heart disease risk, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, consider simply measuring your waist circumference. Or even better still, visit an Accredited Practising Dietitian for a regular scan of your body using bioelectric impedance technology - a medical grade, scientific device will use multiple frequencies to determine:
- Total skeletal muscle mass
- Total body fat in kilograms
- Total body fat percentage
- Bofy fat (trunk)
- Total body water
- Segmental muscle and fat analysis
- Bone mineral content
- Basal metabolic rate
A result sheet showing the following graph shape indicates the so-called Skinny fat showing higher body weight, lower skeletal muscle mass levels and higher body fat levels.
All of these are creating a predominant C shape. The general characteristics of the C shape are:
Higher visceral fat level – potentially dangerous internal fat
Higher percentage of body fat
Generalised larger waist-hip ratio
Large difference to arm circumference and arm-muscle circumference – Arm muscle circumference is the measurement of your arm minus the body fat, a large difference between the arm circumference and the arm muscle circumference is indicative of a large amount of fat in this area and is suggestive of possible hormonal imbalances which may effect fat distribution around the body
Lower InBody score – This score reflects the overall evaluation of your InBody scan, the higher the score the much better your overall result
This shape creates a possibility of a higher probability of being at risk of many health-related illnesses such as hypertension, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease
This is generally not an idealistic body shape and may require further intervention from a Health Care Professional
A Dietitian-Nutritionist is well-placed to perform these tests as they will also be able to advise on specific dietary and lifestyle strategies to help you achieve your ideal result, with consideration to your food preferences, habits and daily structure.
Do you need to prepare for the test? - Yes. It is important that you arrange the test around the same time of day each time. You should also make sure you are well hydrated by drinking plenty of water 24hrs prior, and avoid exercise in the few hours leading up to your test.
So,just as you see your Dentist every 6 months for a check of your oral health, take the time to book in with your Dietitian to give your body composition and food intake a timely once-over. This will help you reduce the chances of future weight or health problems and keep your body in the best shape possible.