The term skinny-fat has been doing the rounds recently, but what exactly is it? It turns out that the way fat is distributed in our bodies has a tremendous influence on our overall health. Some people can be massively over weight, but because their fat is concentrated under the skin, rather than around their organs, they remain surprisingly health.

On the other extreme are people for whom fat accumulates around their organs. This type of fat is called visceral fat, and it is much more likely to kill you. Individuals who have visceral fat have more chance of getting diabetes or having a heart attack and requiring, defibrillators or AEDs to resuscitate them. Often, these people look perfectly slim from the outside, and nobody, not even doctors, recognizes the fact that their body composition is dangerously skewed.

FOTIFinding out whether you’re skinny fat is actually quite easy, so long as you have access to the right equipment. One of the best places to find out isn’t actually your doctor’s: it’s the gym. While doctors are still using traditional measures like skin-fold calipers to determine how fat people are, modern gyms are turning to advanced technology, like “bod pods.” The great thing about these pods is that they are able to scan your internal organs and determine how much of your body is composed of fat and how much is composed of muscle. What’s more, they can tell you how much of your fat is located in dangerous places, like around your organs.

The question, therefore, for people who think that they are skinny-fat is: what should they do to be healthier? Here’s some advice.

Embrace Chewing

If you live in a wealthy country, there’s a good chance that you’re somebody who likes to “wolf down” their meals. Often this is because you don’t have time for inconveniences like eating. But sometimes, it’s just because you’re really hungry.

The problem with this is that by eating food rapidly, we fail to sense when we’ve become full. It takes about 20 minutes for signals from the stomach to reach the brain to tell the brain that your body has received enough food, meaning that during those 20 minutes, it’s really easy to overeat. Professionals recommend, therefore, that people chew their food, one mouthful at a time to lengthen the time they eat.

Work Out Hard And Fast

Another thing that skinny fat people need to do is to adjust their exercise routines. It’s not so much about losing weight for these people: it’s about changing body composition away from fat and towards muscle. The best way to do this is through what is known as high intensity training. High-intensity training, where you train like mad for a few short intervals, has been shown to be far more beneficial for shifting body composition than regular training. The reason for this, it is believed, is that it sends a stronger signal to your body, telling it that it needs to shift away from energy storage to energy usage. The ultimate effect is a slimmer waistline and less fat around your organs.

Image Source and By ImagingFat (volunteer research scans from research study) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons