Eating Skinny vs. Eating Healthy
Many people assume that if someone is skinny, that they are also healthy. But this is not always true. Skinny people usually associate thinness with being healthy. Because they are skinny, they assume that they are also healthy and that they need not worry about many health issues that overweight people face, such as diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
The Majority of people who are skinny associate their thinness with their fast metabolism. But what they don’t realize is that their fast metabolism comes from their genetic background. In a recent study conducted by researchers at the Medical Research Council in the U.K., researchers they found that lean people with a specific genetic variant were at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease despite their lower body fat.1 Scientists have discovered that people store fat differently from one another and that the location of an individual’s fat storage depends largely on genetics.2 Fat that is just under the skin doesn’t contribute much to heart disease and diabetes. The fat that surrounds the organs, muscles, and deeper tissues are the real contributors to the increased risk in heart disease and diabetes. In this study, those with lean bodies, but detected as having this genetic variant, consistently showed higher blood cholesterol levels and trouble-processing insulin, an early indicator of diabetes. While some people are aware of this, there are also people who have no idea that they could be at risk of Diabetes.2
Another factor that people sometimes do not realize is that the type of one’s overall health is often overlooked when thinking about fat consumption. There are two main types of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are the good fats, and when consumed in moderation can cause lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk for heart disease. Additionally, Omega-3s are very healthy fats as well as the fats found in olive oil. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish as well as nuts - specifically walnuts. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish per week.3 Saturated fats are the type of fats that are detrimental to your health over time. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat, poultry, and dairy products. “There is evidence that saturated fats have an effect on increasing colon and prostate cancer risk, so we recommend whenever possible to choose healthy unsaturated fats and always strive to be at a healthy weight,” describes Ms. Colleen Doyle, nutrition and physical activity director of the American Cancer Society. Common misconception regarding thinness is that it equates to healthiness. A skinny person may stay skinny because of a fast metabolism, but may not be healthy due processes within the body that are not represented by body weight. Fats and sugars are stored deep in the body and bloodstream and can slowly deteriorate your health over time without seeing the consequences on the outside.
Eating skinny and eating healthy are often thought of as the same thing but eating healthy is very different from eating skinny. You can start making healthier choices by reading the labels of the products you buy. Inside the nutrition facts panel, you'll find useful information about fiber, cholesterol, sugar, etc. Look for foods that are low in total fat as well as saturated and trans fats. Bear in mind that a product whose label boasts it is "trans fat free" can actually have up to 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving - and these can add up quickly.3 Making sure that you are getting enough whole grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as your healthy fats (Unsaturated and Omega-3s) help keep you healthy. It is also important to have a weekly exercising routine in addition to a healthy diet. The Center for Disease and Control recommends that people aged 18 to 65 should have about two and a half hours 2 of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week working out all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).4
Making a Change
Many naturally thin people (or ectomorphs) seem to be able to eat whatever they want, never exercise, yet do not gain weight. This leaves others curious as to how this is possible. Is it a fast metabolism? How can someone eat like that and not gain a pound? The answer is “visceral fat.” Visceral fat is the fat that lies under one’s skin and surrounds organs that aren’t noticeable from the outside. When people have the specific genetic variant that allows them to not gain weight, they are coined the term “skinny fat.” Because people don’t visually notice visceral fat, being “skinny-fat” can be a silent killer.5 If you could classify yourself as possibly having this specific genetic variant, do not worry. There are plenty of steps that you can take to maintain a healthy lifestyle. With a considerate amount of effort, you can start changing your diet, exercising, and being consciously aware of what you are putting into your body and how it affects you.
- Park, Alice. "Why Being Thin Doesn't Always Mean Being Healthy." Time.com. N.p., 27 June 2011. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
- Garcia, Oz. "Being Thin Isn't The Same As Being Healthy." The Huffington Post. N.p., 08 Aug. 2011. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
- "Good Fats vs. Bad Fats: Get the Skinny on Fat." WebMD. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
- "How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?" Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., 04 June 2015. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
- Remmer, Sarah. "Being "Skinny Fat": Why Your Health Is At Risk." YummyMummyClub. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.
Last Updated 3 December 2015.