Just because someone appears skinny does not mean they are healthy. There is a body type called TOFI: Thin on the outside, fat on the inside. TOFI is the term to describe those who appear on the surface as healthy, but if you look deeper, they can be just as sick as someone considered obese. Being TOFI is so dangerous because of the fat surrounding the vital organs that is not seen by the naked eye.
What is TOFI
People considered TOFI might not worry about what they eat or have a sedentary lifestyle because they have a naturally thin body type. Because of this lax attitude with nutrition, they may eat more sugary processed foods, contributing to the internal fat build-up. People with a TOFI body type are considered metabolically obese even if they have an average weight. TOFI body types have a genetic predisposition to store fat differently, so don’t always judge a book by its cover.
Why You Should Pay Attention
A 2014 study from the American Journal of Cardiology found that people categorized as skinny fat have a higher risk of death from metabolic disease than other groups. Even though someone may not have a lot of visible fat, where it is stored is what matters. The most dangerous kind surrounds the internal organs, which can cause metabolic syndrome, characterized by several disease symptoms in one. The internal fat messes with the body’s internal communication system and tells the body to store fat inside the liver and pancreas. This can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It can be challenging to determine if you’re at risk, which underlines the importance of getting regular checkups.
How to Determine and Control TOFI
Get a blood panel test
Proper testing that looks at glucose, cholesterol, and fat levels in the blood can determine the true story of your metabolic health.
Normal numbers should be:
Fasting Blood Glucose: Less than 90 mg/dl
Triglycerides: Less than 100 mg/dl
HDL (good cholesterol): More than 60 mg/d
LDL: (bad cholesterol): Less than 100 mg/dl
Blood Pressure: Less than 120/80
Get a Scanned
If you get your blood tested and it shows abnormal numbers, you can go deeper by getting scanned. A popular test used to look at internal fat distribution is called a DEXA scan. The DEXA scan can give you a real-time picture of where your fat storage lies.
Tips to Control TOFI:
Exercise is a factor that determines if someone stores fat internally or not. Cardio and strength training help build the metabolism, and more muscle will help cut the internal fat. Try incorporating high-intensity cardio; according to a study, it has the highest potential to reduce internal fat.
Eat a Low Glycemic Diet
Eat a low glycemic diet that includes lean proteins and grains that do not spike your blood sugar levels. In addition, incorporating soluble fiber is an effective way to reduce visceral fat. Even adding 10 grams a day can reduce internal fat, as found in a study.
Get Enough Sleep
Try to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep promotes fat storage and increases sugar cravings.
Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods are foreign objects to the body, and it may not know how to break them down properly. In excess, it will cause your body to store them as fat.
Find ways to manage stress to reduce the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced during stress, and chronic levels will lead to excess fat build-up.
What this all means in terms of body composition
Now that you know that someone considered lean is not always healthy, it makes you rethink how you judge people by their physical appearance. In fact, someone who might be physically seen as “fat” or overweight may be healthier than you think. Overall, we should focus on what is happening on the inside versus the aesthetics when it comes to health. Remember, you are not fat. You have fat, and where it is distributed matters the most.