Want to know how to get rid of skinny fat belly but not getting any results? Here you’ll discover what’s really causing your skinny fat belly and everything you need to do to lose it.
So what is skinny fat also scientifically known as sarcopenic obesity? This is when you have high amounts of fat on your body combined with low amounts of muscle. This leaves your body flabby, mushy, and dimply. It causes excess stubborn fat in troublesome places like your belly, hips, thighs, and arms. Many people who lose weight end up with skinny fat syndrome because they don’t build muscle in addition to losing weight. It’s kinda like deflating a balloon.
Being skinny fat can be frustrating because even if you lose more weight that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to lose your belly or love handles. And even doing excessive cardio and dieting harder can make things worse. Those who are naturally thin when they were younger can suddenly appear to be skinny fat overnight as their bodies age.
I remember a lady I was training had a thin upper body and legs but her button belly was pure fat. So much so that she said she looked pregnant and even ended up taking a pregnancy test! Another problem for women with skinny fat syndrome is it can make cellulite appear worse.
But the good news is just because you’re skinny fat now doesn’t mean you’re going to be skinny fat forever. Having excess fat in your stomach, thighs, and butt can quickly be eradicated even though spot reduction isn’t very effective. But losing weight, in general, isn’t going to be the answer, and crazy enough can make things even worse.
Now everybody tends to store fat in stubborn places. Women tend to have a pear-shaped body storing their excess fat in their hips and thighs (1). Men tend to have an apple-shaped body and store fat in their bellies (2). But just because you were born for the genetics to be predisposed to store fat in these troublesome areas doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it.
But the more skinny fat you are the more likely you are to hang onto stubborn fat in these troublesome areas. This is what makes getting rid of lower belly fat so difficult. Having too much excess body fat and not enough lean muscle is what causes the skinny fat syndrome in both women and men. Those with a natural ectomorph body type tend to be naturally thin but they could also have high body fat. This is what causes them to become skinny fat.
And being skinny fat doesn’t mean you’re going to be healthy. Those who are skinny fat tend to be more prone to health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease (3). Osteoporosis can also become a problem from a lack of muscle mass (4). Without enough muscle, your bones will have to work harder to support your body.
Bloating can also make your skinny fat trouble spots look worse. Eating junk foods like chips can cause increased water weight retention. This makes these stubborn places like your belly appear even bigger than they are. Without enough muscle tone, these stubborn spots will have a flabby jelly-like consistency.
Women can have a harder time with cellulite if they’re skinny fat. Your body composition has a big impact on the presence of cellulite on your body. If you have a higher body fat percentage then there’s a good chance you’re more likely to have cellulite too (5).
Being skinny fat tends to hit women more often than men (6). This is because women tend to shy away from lifting weights while men are more likely to get in the gym for strength training. Men also naturally have more muscle than women (7). This makes it easier for men to lose their skinny fat body.
Most women prefer dieting to lose weight but there’s a big problem with this (8). Your amount of muscle also decreases in the weight loss process so fat loss should be your goal (9). Losing your muscle will highly contribute to becoming skinny fat despite you losing weight. And many women know all too well fat cells stubbornly cling on to dear life when trying to lose weight.
Your Skinny Fat Body Fat Percentage
The best way to determine if you’re skinny fat or not is to measure your body fat percentage. Now, this can be a lot more difficult than just weighing yourself with a body weight scale. Ideally, you will have a certified personal trainer to measure your body fat percentage. But if you’re unable to meet with a personal trainer that you can also pick up a smart scale. This will give you a ballpark picture for you to work with.
Ideally, women will have a body fat percentage of 24% or lower to start getting rid of their skinny fat body. Men should be 17% or below before they start seeing their skinny fat go away (10). You’ll be able to lose your skinny fat faster the more muscle you build and the more body fat you lose.
Many endurance athletes tend to become skinny fat because they do too much cardio without strength training. Most people make the mistake of trying to lose their skinny fat body by doing more and more cardio. But doing so also causes you to lose muscle. Yes, you’ll be burning fat but muscle loss also occurs if you’re not also strength training. High levels of endurance training can lead to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol (11). Cortisol can cause an increase in water weight for stubborn spots like your hips, love handles, and belly.
If you’re not weight training with all the cardio workouts then your lean muscle will break down. This results in a big decrease in muscle only further contributing to the skinny fat syndrome. Many guys who are skinny fat who have never lifted before have an advantage (12). This is because they’re building muscle so easily because of their hormones and physiology. They call these “newbie gains.”
So you could keep up with the calorie restriction as long as you’re keeping your protein high. If you’re eating too many calories then you won’t lower your body mass index. Calorie restriction is still important to achieving a normal weight (13). Then add in some strength training and you should still be able to stay lean while lowering your body fat and getting rid of the skinny fat.
The Skinny Fat Stomach Problem
So regardless if you’re a man or a woman you need to start resistance training with weights. It’s going to be impossible for you to add lean muscle if you’re not resistance training. Dieting and doing more cardio will help you lose weight and burn fat but you’ll also be cannibalizing your muscle.
Doing more crunches and sit-ups also can help to lose the skinny fat pooch. But spot reduction isn’t a very effective way of getting rid of stubborn fat spots on your body (14). You need to lower your body fat throughout your entire body while adding lean muscle throughout.
Adjusting your diet is also gonna be critical to getting the results you want. If you’re eating nothing but junk food like potato chips all day then it’s gonna be hard for you to build muscle. Start consuming a higher amount of protein to promote the building of muscle (15). If you have trouble getting enough protein per day then try adding a low carb protein shake like this one.
Cut out the bad carbs and sugars from your diet is of the utmost importance. This will go a long way towards giving you an improved body composition. Replace those bad carbs with green leafy and cruciferous vegetables instead. Make sure you’re also not drinking sugary sodas and fruit juices. These contribute to the skinny fat body. Drop the bad vegetable oils from your diet as well since they can cause inflammation. Instead, replace these with good fats like avocados and extra virgin olive oil.
De-stressing will help to correct and re-balance the hormones that can cause a stress belly. Being stressed out all the time releases the fight or flight hormone cortisol. This promotes the storage of stomach fat adding to the skinny fat look (16). Stress also causes additional fat-storing hormones to be released from your body. If you have trouble getting enough sleep or de-stressing try taking CBD oil which has been found to improve both of these.
Losing the Skinny Fat Without Weights at Home
Now even though I just said you need resistance training and weightlifting to lose the skinny fat look you can do it without weights in the comfort of your own home. The only way to do this is with bodyweight training. You need some kind of resistance training to build muscle (17). There’s no other way!
So if you don’t like working at all then I’m sorry to say you’ll probably never lose the skinny fat look. But by doing some bodyweight resistance training exercises you should be able to improve your body composition by building muscle. You can do quite a few bodyweight exercises in your own home that require only a minimal amount of space.
Try doing a full-body strength training routine 2 to 3 times per week to start. Add in exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, planks, step-ups, and Burpees to your daily workout routine. If you’ve never strength trained before or in a long time then your body should start gaining muscle tissue rather easily. But don’t be surprised if you end up adding some pounds when you step on the scale. This from the muscle weighing something too but it doesn’t mean you’re getting fatter.
Just the opposite is happening. You’re probably burning fat as you gain muscle. This can be confusing when you step on the scale and make it seem like you’re not getting any results. But don’t let the scale trick you. Instead, stick by measuring your progress with your body fat percentage. Another way to track your progress is to take girth measurements around your body. As you gain muscle and lose fat your body should tighten up and lose inches.
The Skinny Fat Workout Plan
Below is an example training plan you can use to get rid of your skinny fat body. It focuses on fat loss and muscle growth by using a high-intensity strength training workout (18). It uses compound movements combined with intense interval training along with multi-joint movements that maximize muscle activation.
- Squat Presses 3×10
- Pull-ups 3×8
- Lunges 3×12
- Push-ups 3×10
- Step-Ups 3×12
- Planks 3×20 sec.
- Bicycle & Rotates 3×20
This plan combines it with other full-body movements to complement the previous exercise. This way you can rest one area while working the other to maximize efficiency and results. You can also check out my Flat Belly Formula program for a complete 16 week training program to get rid of your skinny fat body.
Skinny Fat Transformation
Now depending on how much muscle mass you need to gain it could take a while before you start to see results. But the good news is since you’re already skinny you don’t have to worry about losing a lot more weight. Your muscle growth is going to be your main priority towards getting the results you want.
Here are some results that you can expect once you start gaining muscle and lowering your body fat percentage. You could start getting rid of your skinny fat physique in weeks depending on how committed and consistent you are with lifting weights.
How do I get rid of skinny fat love handles?
If you have trouble with your love handles then you’re not alone with your fellow skinny fat physiques. The muffin top tends to be a stubborn area that many people hold fat onto. Getting rid of this last fat because you’re skinny fat can be a little harder than you think. The trick is to keep lowering your body fat while also increasing your muscle mass. One of my favorite tricks is to combine abdominal and love handle exercises with high-intensity cardio workouts.
Is HIIT good for skinny fat?
HIIT workouts are a good idea to keep burning fat and add some more muscle tissue. If getting rid of your skinny fat body is your main priority then do this over long slow cardio workouts. My favorite method of training is to run fast on an inclined treadmill or hill-sprints.
The Last Word
Being skinny fat can be a good problem to have. Since you’re already thin you don’t have to worry about losing more weight like most people. Instead, all you have to do is lower your body fat mass and muscle mass to your body.
And to do that all you had to do is add in some resistance training to your workout routine. I wouldn’t recommend doing more slow-go cardio exercise as it could make things worse. It does so by cannibalizing your muscle mass and increasing cortisol. And if you already have a good diet then you’ll get results even faster.
Once you start adding in more full-body resistance training your muscle mass quickly increases. But your body will also adapt to your current workout routine. To keep getting results you have to increase your resistance, volume, and time under tension. Keep challenging your body and don’t stick with any one routine for too long otherwise, you’ll start to plateau.
To get rid of your skinny fat belly and turn it into abs you’re going to have to stop focusing on losing weight. This can sound counterintuitive but weight loss isn’t the answer. It could make things worse. Instead, start adding more muscle to your body and get your hormones right by de-stressing.
And the good thing with resistance training is you can do it in your own home without weights. So if you’re stressed for time and can’t make it to the gym there’s no excuse for not getting your workouts in. It’ll be worth it, in the end, to get rid of your skinny fat body.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.