Q&A: Expert Commentary From Dara Dairo

question I’m naturally skinny and want to put on weight without becoming ‘skinny fat’, how should I go about this?

answer‘Skinny fat’ refers to someone who by no means looks overweight, nor do they weigh enough to be considered overweight, yet they have a higher percentage of body fat than would be considered normal for their weight. Quite often these people carry much less muscle mass, so appear ‘soft’ in shape.

I am constantly asked how to lose a few pounds, or hear people complaining that they have put on weight despite working out.  In many cases, people don’t fully understand what these changes in body weight mean. For many, they need to focus on body composition, working to increase Fat Free Mass (FFM) and reduce Fat Mass (FM).

FM is the sum of all the body fat in your body and FFM is everything else, so your total body weight is FM plus FFM. There are a few ways to track FM and FFM such as skin calipers and metabolic index. There are machines called InBody trackers in Virgin Active clubs, which use electrical pulses to measure body fat and muscle mass.

So for someone to escape the trap of being skinny fat, they need to use the right tools to see what they are actually losing. This will let them train towards their own body composition goals to help them lose body fat and retain muscle mass. The most optimal training protocol would be high intensity interval training like sprints or intervals on a bike, along with weight training exercises that involve multiple muscles, e.g. push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges and overhead press.

Dara Dairo is a personal trainer at Virgin Active Health Club Kensington; www.virginactive.co.uk

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