Article last updated: June 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
What happens with most skinny-fat guys who get into fitness is that we believe that as long as we eat clean and train hard, we can look exactly like the guy who started out skinny with a flat waist and ab-definition.
…And that’s partly true.
Everyone can achieve ab definition as long as they move more and eat less.
However, certain groups of people have to put in a lot more effort to maintain a lean physique. (Even when training, diet and supplementation are all dialled in).
One of these groups is those of us who have been skinny-fat or fat throughout all our teenage years.
If you’re like me and a lot of other guys who were skinny-fat or fat during your teenage years, you’ve probably noticed that you re-gain fat VERY easily.
One bad meal is enough to go from having ab-definition to love handles.
Maintaining a lean physique is hard and requires a lot of work compared to guys who were lean while growing up.
Why? Because we have more fat cells in the lower waist and hip area.
Fat cells are like balloons.
They are always ready to be filled up when you eat too much.
So guys who have a high amount of fat cells, gain fat easily.
These additional fat cells make it VERY difficult to get fully visible abs and even more difficult to maintain that look.
The Bad News: The Total Amount of Fat Cells In Your Body Can’t Decrease Once You’re An Adult
The total amount of fat cells in your body fluctuates throughout your childhood and early-mid teenage years.
Once you’re about 16-18 years old, the total amount of fat cells in your body cannot decrease.
You can do all the training an dieting in the world but it won’t change the amount of fat cells you have in the body.
This is similar to guys who developed puffy nipples during their early teenage years.
If you don’t do something about it early, they become permanent because the body “settles for a look”.
It decides how it wants you to look for the rest of your life.
I personally have a lot of fat cells in my lower waist and hips.
The first time I ever got lean was in November 2012 at age 20.
This was after 2 years of hard training, dieting and shredding 60 pounds of fat.
Today, I still have to watch what I eat, otherwise my waist blows up.
To give you some perspective, last time I went out and ate whatever I wanted and had a few drinks I gained 5 pounds and 1 inch around my lower waist.
That’s A LOT of fat gain from one night.
Before going out, I had ab-definition and looked very fit.
I also ate clean food the whole day, supplemented with Omega-3 and Greens and trained hard in the gym for a bit over an hour.
The next morning, after going out, I had love handles and when I walked I could feel the sides of my waist bouncing up and down.
It took me an entire week of hard work to lose that side-fat and get back in shape.
In other words, ONE night messed up an entire week of progress.
If I go “all out” just for ONE night a week like most other guys my age and eat whatever I want and have a few drinks, there’s no way I can make progress in my training and I can’t stay lean.
What To Do If You Have A Lot of Fat Cells?
If you’re still in your early or mid teens, it’s not too late and I REALLY urge you to take action to shred fat.
You can start making lifestyle changes that support fat loss and thereby decrease the amount of fat cells you have for the rest of your life.
A good start is my free bodyweight training program and the START HERE page on this website.
If you’re a parent with a chubby kid, I also recommend you have them start their fat loss as soon as possible because it will make their life so much easier later on!
But what about those of us who aren’t teenagers any more and who have a lot of fat cells?
We just have to work with what we have.
For me, this means that I do my absolute best to eat healthy and achieve a lean physique, but I also have realistic expectations.
If your body works in a similar way to mine, you will find it VERY difficult to maintain fully visible abs and you might want to settle for a more sustainable look.
A look that you can maintain year around without having to starve yourself and dealing with low energy levels that come from overly strict diets.
Your daily energy levels and overall health are MUCH more important than the way your stomach looks.
“But Oskar, I’ve been fat all my life and now I want to have shredded abs. I need them to feel good about myself.”
You don’t have to measure progress by how ripped your stomach is. Especially if you have a lot of fat cells there and it’s incredibly hard for you to get ripped and stay ripped.
Making progress is key behind feeling accomplished on a daily basis, but progress is relative and you can choose HOW you measure progress.
One of the best bodybuilding champions ever, Arnold Schwarzenegger, NEVER had a 6-pack but he still beat all his competition because his arms, chest and back were better.
Now, I’m not saying that you should compare yourself to Arnold, but the point is that it’s much better to play to your strengths, or at least focus on things that you can improve on consistently while feeling good in the process.
You can focus your attention on building enough strength to do 10 pull ups.
Or adding size to your arms.
The options are endless.
Feeling great on a daily basis largely depends on progress and the way you measure progress depends on what YOU decide to focus on.
Interesting topics like fat cells (and much more) will be covered in the SKINNY-FAT TRANSFORMATION BOOK (coming January 2017).
Photo 1 credit: Health Central