T Nation

Skinny Fat or Just Fat?

I’m an 18 year old male, 6’1.5" with 6-7 months training experience(although I had to take a nearly 2 month break to recover from gyno surgery in August).

In January 2004, I was about 5’10/5’11, 240-250lb 15 year old kid. I started running everyday and eating very little. I didn’t touch a weight or even consider it. I dropped to 150lbs by September.

Between this time and Spring of this year, cardio was my life. I had a borderline eating disorder, although I didn’t count calories, I just did hours of cardio each day. It wasn’t so extreme at first: a six mile run daily. But Eventually, it got to the point that this time last year I was doing 2 hours every morning at 5AM(fasted, of course) stairmaster work on top of walking upwards of 7-8 miles per day. My food selection wasn’t terrible: no fast food, sodas, sweets, etc. and tons of fiber. But I lacked protein and calories. I had long, shoulder length hair back then, and after a few months of this routine, my hair began becoming very frail and falling out in the back. It was the opposite of a mullet: short in the back and longer in the front.

I withered down to 140-145 and ignored friends’ comments that I looked like a walking skeleton on meth.

After a few months, my body image goals changed for the better, and I discovered how much I enjoyed lifting weights(especially compared to cardio). I began a semi-serious lifting routine by May and began eating a lot more(healthy foods of course: chicken, nuts, oats, eggs, cottage cheese, etc.). My training routine was a typical crappy first routine: lots of machines, no real knowledge of what I should be doing, no squatting/deadlifting(not to say I didn’t train legs, though). I began tracking calories by summertime and was getting a good 3500-4000 calories in per day, which in hindsight was probably too much. I went under the knife to correct a long-standing gyno that bugged the hell out of me. This cost me a couple months in the gym, and a loss of strength and muscle mass. Fortunately, this allowed me to overhaul my routine and improve it. I added more compound exercises and freeweights. When I came back, I began deadlifting and squatting(although my form sucks and I’m still learning). For the first time in my life, I had a solid chest, following the removal of the breast tissue.

While I was pleased with the improvement of my chest, I still had(and have) major physique problems: namely love handles, loose skin, and flab around my entire midsection.

As I said, when I first began my “bulk”, I ate too much, too fast. I’m about 185-190 now, and I’ve been here for a couple months. I’m much stronger than I previously was and my measurements are obviously bigger. My shoulders have gotten much thicker, my arms grew a few inches, and my chest is on its way to becoming “pecs”(compared to my gyno days). But my midsection is really bothering me.When I was smaller, I never had a six-pack. I was “skinny fat”, soft with no real abdominal definition. I guess I still am. In fact my entire midsection seems so soft and flabby compared to the rest of my body. When the love handles and belly creep over my jeans when I sit, it’s psychologically demoralizing. A voice in my head says “cut, cut”, but I look at my thin arms and am completely unsatisfied.

For the past few days, I’ve been lowering my cals to about 2500-2750, down from 3500. I’ve been following the Anabolic Diet for nearly 3 months now and really do enjoy eating low carb(the carb-up days are actually my least favorite due to bloating and lethargy).
I don’t really know what I’m doing now; I’m lost, really. I’m still very weak for my size. I mean, I have decent lower body strength, but my upper body is so weak. I can deadlift nearly 300lbs but I can’t bench my bodyweight or do one fucking chinup/pullup. I have the feeling that I’ll be spending so much time trying to cut that I’ll be wasting my time in the gym that could be spent building strength/muscle. On the other hand, I feel that my bodyfat percentage is really high and that I just feel awful being so soft.

I follow an upper/lower split(for the past month) and the 100 Workouts to Ripped City fasted incline treadmill walking protocol. My training schedule looks like this:

Monday- AM walk, PM Upper
Tuesday- AM walk, PM HIIT
Wednesday- AM walk, PM Lower
Thursday- AM walk, PM HIIT
Friday- AM walk, PM Upper
Saturday- Lower, walking the dog(3m)
Sunday- HIIT, walking the dog


  • Creatine
  • ZMA
  • Ginkgo
  • Grape Seed Extract
  • Multi
  • Fish oil(10x)
  • bulk BCAA’s( 5g before faster walk, 10g during;10g pre, 20-25g mixed in 2 liters of water during workout)
    -Green Tea Extract(megadosed)

Arms- 13" cold
Chest- 41"
Legs- 22"
Calves: 15.5"
Waist- 34"

And pics





Loose skin:

Stretch marked-back:

Gut sucked:

Gut relaxed:

As you can see, I’m a major work in progress. My ultimate goal would be in the mid-lower 200s, lean, but even I know that that is unthinkable at this stage in the game. I’m just lost as to what I should do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as I don’t think I can achieve my ultimate physique goals on my own.

I am not sure what your question is, but looking at your pics you are not in that bad situation.

I think that your best priority right not is to stop buying all those supplements and focus on good clean eating. Not trying to gain or to loose, but a nice normal diet to regulate your metabolism again.

At the stage you are I would not divide my body and just perform 3 whole body workouts focussing on basic exercises and after the workout perform 30min of cardio to get more calories burning. Go out and play some basketball or other sports and enjoy your youth.

During this time get a workout log and a nutrition log. Don’t go crazy with the details, just time and food eaten per day. At the end of the week review what you ate and take note of how you felt during the week.

For workout you can choose any of the ones available in this site. Almost all are excellent choices for you. If you want a more directed approach just try this for a couple of months:

Squats 3 sets of 12
OHP 3 sets of 10
Deadlift 3 sets of 12
Dips/bench press 3 sets of 8
Chins/pulldowns with palms facing 3 sets of 8

Once your anaerobic conditioning is in order and you have stopped doing so much cardio you will grow. Just let hunger dicated your eating and make decent choices.

After a while increase the strenght /poundage lifted. After a while you may need to increase the number of sets to include warm-ups, but at your strenght level 3 total sets should be plenty.

I’m about in the same boat at just under 6’3 and weighing about 187. I’ve been lifting longer so i can rep out pullups and bench my body weight 5 times. I know exactly what you mean when you talk about sitting down-it sucks. You look lean and fit but when you sit down it looks horrible.

I went from 264 down to 174 and now i’m back up after about 4 months of lifting, so i probably didn’t lose as much lean mass as you. I’ve just heard about gyno and it makes sense because my chest looks horrible. i gotta look into it. Coming from that i would say lift hard 3 or 4 times a week and eat enough to grow-but not an overabundance.

Don’t jog and do rowing for cardio- it burns more fat b/c you use more muscles.If you continue to try to lose weight you’ll lose more LBM-and still look pudgy. we’ve all seen those 40 something guys at the gym doing an hour and a half of cardio and still have love handles. Just trust these dudes on here when they say lift then before spring break man diet smart.
Good luck

Your body fat is minimal and you lack any real muscle mass… cutting is just going to get you back towards your walking skeloton state. Right now is the time to fight for some muscle and not result to yo-yo dieting which I think your on the verge of falling into.

Keep with low carb diet and keep gaining weight

i agree. I think low carb diets with periodic carb intake are good for former fat boys. I also think the best advice is to just make sure you are eating right getting stronger. The fat gain shouldn’t be a problem if you eat properly.

I heard there’s a guy named John Berardi who knows a fact or two about nutrition.

Dude, when I read your post I was expecting your pictures to look much worse. You have a very bad self image.

[quote]Deadend66 wrote:
Dude, when I read your post I was expecting your pictures to look much worse. You have a very bad self image.[/quote]

Well, I was a border-line anorexic, after all(actually, it was more like exercise bulimia: using cardio to purge myself on a daily basis) I just compare myself to many of my peers and feel terrible that I became fat as a kid(around 8 or 9). I mean, the stretch marks all over my body will never go away completely and to a large extent my loose skin. Right now, I’m just trying to do the best I can with what I’ve got.

I regret so many things I’ve done to my body, going from both extremes, that now I want to get it right.

About your skin. I have heard that over years your body absorbs the extra skin so I think you can stop stressing over it. Even if your body doesn’t if you fill your chest out with muscle it wont look stretchey.

[quote]Deadend66 wrote:
About your skin. I have heard that over years your body absorbs the extra skin so I think you can stop stressing over it. Even if your body doesn’t if you fill your chest out with muscle it wont look stretchey.[/quote]

Exactly in your case the minimal extra skin. You will take care of it if you just build a physique add some quality mass.

So what’s the consensus? Bulk? Maintain? Slow bulk? Just keep lifting heavy and eat until satisfied?

Also, would I fall under the endomorphic somatype? I’m pretty confused as to where I would fall.

It doesn’t matter. I’d say your the same as me I just cant remember what I was.

I would suggest that you figure out your caloric needs to build muscle and eat healthy. Get the bulk thing out of your head. You need to eat a ton of healthy stuff to build muscle and minimize fat gain. Maybe follow one of the routines on this site and do HIIT in between.

I’m not an expert. If someone suggests something else, what they say is probably backed up by more knowledge.

#1 nail a solid diet and training learn to eat and lift for performance. Do that be consistant for a few years. Build something, just lift hard and eat well and sure a lot eat for the activity you do. You simpy need to DO it at this point. You have no base no worry about cutting.

Aim to get stronger. Go lift and get damn ass strong and the physique will follow if you stick to it and eat for it.

Keep it simple eat, lift recover, repeat.


im in somewhat of a similar situation as you… im 6’1" (± .5"), just hit 180lbs.

what you might call your love handles look like hips, wide with a little bit of skin/fat around them…hard if you poke it.
(wide from previously being bigger, then losing muscle mass while losing a lot of weight)

they way i look at it, theres a certain size i need to bulk up to to look “normal” again… i started at around 142lbs almost a year and a half ago (naive in the beginning, gradually catching on, pretty serious for 5 months or so). im at 180 and i think i still need to go… truth is my goal is 200, then cut.

while my goal weight seems like its taking forever to get to, and i get tempted to try and cut early to lose the little fat gains i have gotten so far, i just tell myself i’ll re-evaluate in a month, and i usually end up continuing the bulk

fyi, im sure after my first cut i will start another bulk because ill decide that im still not big enough

Mate, i always look at these threads to try to help. Listen to everyone’s advice, and let your negative self image slide for a bit, act don’t analyse.

I was a bit skinnyfat, now i’m more strong-fat, next i’ll cut and be slim-strong, then bulk again etc.
Keep your eyes on the prize, you’ll get there. You found the right educational resource in T-Nation.

I really gotta agree with everyone else, the problem is that you need muscle everywhere. Also slow down on the cardio a bit,even now you do helluva lot, Two sessions in one day I think is a little crazy especially for a person who needs to GAIN muscle.

Just start eating cleanly,every 2-3 hours get a good amount of healthy fats,protein and carbs and bust ass in the gym everything else will take care of itself. Once you get a good base,adjust from there. Ohh yeah a simmer down, and relax abit