We all have that friend. The skinny one who eats whatever they want and never exercises. We all secretly dislike them for this trait and at the same time, wish we could be like them. New research is showing that they might be in a bad position, even worse than an overweight person who hits the gym. As scientist Bente Pedersen said this week, “It’s much better to be fit and fat, than skinny and lazy.”
Pedersen contributed along with many other professionals in Bill Gifford’s article for Outside this week. The article focused on more truths that have been revealed about fat. The report was lengthy but it highlighted some important misnomers about fat. Most know that we have “good” fat and “bad” fat, or subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. The good fat is more or less padding, while bad fat builds up in our mid-sections and can infiltrate our organs. A picture of fat invading muscles like the marbling of beef was used to describe how visceral fat can affect the inactive, not just the obese.
This bleak outlook of how fat can literally take over was explained further by Gerald Shulman, M.D., a diabetes researcher at Yale who contributed to the Outside article. Shulman explained how the amount of fat one has isn’t the problem, more so, it’s how the fat is distributed. He explained how fat build up in areas like the muscle and liver, or places it simply should not be, is when ailments like type 2 diabetes arise.
So we’ve got fat taking over obese and skinny bodies alike. But when the issue of building muscle is introduced, the stage gets set for a battle of enemies. While muscle was once thought to be controlled by the brain, the studies are showing that it is a very powerful system that can experience dynamic changes upon contraction. These changes turn it into a fight fighting machine.
If a person with low muscle begins building muscle through exercise, the body begins growing more mitochondria, and more mitochondria allows a person to burn more fat.
Essentially, muscle combats fat, or as one contributor put it, muscle “counteracts” fat.
Holly Perkins, ExerciseTV celebrity trainer and New Balance Fitness Ambassador, comes in close contact with this struggle between muscle and fat on a daily basis as she works with her clients.
“If you can shift the focus from ‘it’s hard to lose weight’ to ‘I’m going to fight fat with muscle!’ it’s much easier. Because then it’s a battle that you can win over and over again. And your ability to build muscle is limitless,” she said.
Perkins also addressed how the weight loss industry has misdirected people in regards to weight loss. Perkins points out that it’s not as simple as “calories in, calories out.” Simply put, Perkins says, “weight loss is hard.”
Research about building muscle to burn fat is finally coming to the forefront and Perkins agrees the truth about real weight loss is a conversation we need to have with the public.
“Want to burn fat? Build some muscle. Want to burn more fat? Build more muscle! It’s an amazing positive way to shift the conversation.”
Furthermore, the studies are showing that healthy muscle leads to healthier organs, even brains. And the exercise allows the brain to respond to hunger more appropriately as obesity often crosses those signals.
Diet is always important, but it’s also so critical to give your body the fighting chance it needs, literally. Exercise builds muscles and muscle creates the fighters so many areas of your body needs. Whether skinny, overweight, or obese, exercise is vital. Unless you’re comfortable with being a fat-marbled human awaiting your type 2 diabetes diagnosis.