The “skinny look” is an appearance many strive for in this current time. To many, being skinny looks good. But what exactly does it mean to be skinny?
Being skinny mean that you weigh little, or have low body mass (or little “meat on their bones”), for your height. For example, somebody who is 160cm tall and weighs 45kg would be considered skinny. For this person to have such a low body mass, they must either have very low fat levels, or low levels of muscle tissue (or possibly both).
Now, because muscle weighs around 3 times more than fat, and is a lot more difficult to obtain than fat, it is far more common for muscle levels to be low in order for a person to be “skinny”. These low levels of muscle tissue require less energy to be maintained, which means a person with these low levels would actually burn less energy/calories than somebody with more muscle. This means that this person would only need to eat little every day otherwise they would risk putting on weight.
If this person started eating more than their body need, then they would start gaining weight. If this person didn’t exercise, then that weight would be fat as their body wouldn’t have anywhere else that would need the extra energy. Thus, the “skinny” person becomes “fat-skinny” (a body type with low body mass but relatively high body fat levels). Because of this, people who want to be skinny have the idea that they need to eat minimally, which does work, but only because you lose muscle mass as well. Typically, people who fall under this category find themselves eating whatever they want once or twice a day, which could include sugary, unhealthy foods that would significantly spike their blood sugar levels and force those calories straight into their fat stores.
Low Muscle Mass
Low levels of muscle indeed can make you skinny. But these low levels also have disadvantages:
- athletic ability becomes reduced – it gets harder to play sports or anything physically competitive.
- everyday activites become harder – anything from carrying the shopping from the car, holding a baby for a long time, doing the gardening/cleaning, etc.
- strength levels significantly reduced – your ability to use strength is lowered. Your chances of defending yourself against an attacker is much higher if you have the strength to fight them off and/or run away.
- lower metabolism – your body burns less energy, meaning you need to eat less to avoid putting on weight.
Training for Muscle
Gaining muscle doesn’t always mean becoming big and bulky. Women especially (in most occasions) do not wish to become manly with big, bulging muscles everywhere, but want a toned, athletic physique. It is actually impossible for a woman to develop manly muscles as much as a man could as they do not have anywhere as near the same levels of the male sex-hormone testosterone as guys do. This means that women can, and should, train the same as guys, depending on their individual goals of course.
Training also means you burn a lot more energy than not training, which means you can eat more of the food you enjoy without having to worry about putting on weight. Not only that, but the increases in muscle tissue will burn additional energy, making it a lot easier to control your weight!
An increase in muscle mass for a woman will not be very drastic, and looks very attractive (in the eyes of many people). Naturally, people with strong, athletic physiques would be chosen as potential mates as it shows their ability to hunt, fend for themselves, have good health, etc.
Training to be Skinny
Training with the goal of being “skinny” or slim is possible, as long as your diet is in check. For example, training 3 times a week with heavy weights will force your body to become stronger, use up a whole load of calories, burn your body fat, and improve your cardiovascular fitness. If the amount of food you eat is the same as the amount of food your body needs, then you will not get bigger. Only if you eat more than your body needs will you start putting on weight. This is a key point that many seem to not understand.
The same goes for training and eating less than what your body needs. If you train with heavy weights 3 times a week and eat slightly less than what your body needs, then you will lose weight while getting the benefits mentioned above (though the improvements won’t be as optimal as there will be less nutritional for your body to recover with). For more information about how many calories your body needs, please see the bottom of this post.
Supplements can aid with controlling your caloric intake, such as L-Phenylalanine which suppresses your appetite and makes you feel fuller for longer. This would help you eat less and therefore help you lose weight. Protein powders or meal replacement powders can be used as well as normal food to help increase your calories, which will help you put on weight. For more information about supplements please check out our supplements page.
So for those of you who want to be skinny/slim but are afraid of training in case you bulk up like a man, don’t worry – you won’t. As long as you keep your diet in check, all that will happen is you will end up with a more athletic, toned, stronger body.
Work Out Your Daily Caloric Needs
To calculate your daily caloric needs, either use the formula below or visit vishalharia.com/blog/cunningham-equation/.
The Cunningham Equation
Step #1 Determine Resting Metabolic Rate
Sample trainee is 200 lbs at 5% bodyfat, so 0.05 equals 5% bodyfat
Take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2 to get your weight in
Kilograms (skip if you use metric). E.g. 200/2.2=90.91 kg
Next take your fat percentage and multiply by your mass in kilograms,
this will give you your fat mass (FM) E.g. 90.91×0.05=4.55 kg
Subtract your (FM) from your total weight in kilograms to get your fat
free mass (FFM) E.g. 90.91-4.55=86.36 kg
Now enter your (FFM) into this formula
RMR = 500 + [22 x (FFM)] E.g. RMR=500 + [22 x 86.36]
RMR=500 + 1,899.92
Step #2 Determine the Thermic Effect of Food
If you eat a moderate protein diet your factor will be 0.10
(roughly 1g/lb of body weight), for a high protein diet your factor
will be 0.15 (roughly 1.5 g/lb of body weight) .
TEF = RMR x factor (0.10 or 0.15) E.g. TEF=359.99
Do not add this to your RMR yet.
Step #3 Determine Activity Thermogenesis
The first part is to determine your Non Exercise Activity
You’ll need to use one of these NEAT factors (or one in between, like 1.45):
1.2- 1.3 for bed- or chair-ridden individuals
1.4- 1.5 for sedentary occupation without daily movement
1.5- 1.6 for sedentary occupation with daily movement
1.6- 1.7 for occupation with prolonged standing
1.9-2.1 for strenuous work
RMR + NEAT = RMR x NEAT factor E.g. RMR+NEAT=2,399.93 x 1.45
Now add in your TEF
RMR + NEAT + TEF = Non training day caloric needs E.g. RMR+NEAT+TEF=3839.86
Now determine your Exercise Related Activity Thermogenesis (ERAT)
For intense free weight lifting the Metabolic Effect of Training (MET)
is 6. Use your total weight, including fat. For the duration use a decimal
to represent the amount of time (45 min = 0.75, 90 min = 1.5).
ERAT = Body Mass x duration x MET E.g. ERAT=90.91 x 1.5 x 6
On training days you add in your ERAT number for your total calories
E.g.RMR+NEAT+TEF+ERAT = 4,659.05
Our sample trainee would eat 3,839.86 calories on a Non Training Day and 4,659.05 for a Training Day.
Round down to 3,800 and 4,600 and our sample trainee knows how much he needs to eat to maintain his weight.
Simply calculate your own numbers and add or subtract 10-20% depending on your goal. Maintain this change for two weeks and decide if you need to readjust. If you lost or gained weight, maintain for two more weeks until you are no longer losing or gaining, then add or subtract another 10-20% and continue this process until you reach your goal.