Have you been hearing people toss this term “overfat” around lately? I have.
It seems everyone from Hoda to Time Magazine are talking about it. Until recently though, I’d honestly never heard of it myself. And we hear about a lot over here.
When I saw the first headline about it I wondered, was this a newly found health crisis I’ve been blissfully unaware of? Or is it just a cool new word for chubby that the kids are using on SnapSnap or whatever? A meme of sorts? Seriously, what the hell is ‘overfat’?
I did some digging, a.k.a. one Google search, and I saw a video of Dr. Oz measuring Matt Lauer’s waist circumference in an increasingly awkward Today Show segment.
It turns out, ‘overfat’ is the same shit cardiologists have been talking about for forever: fat that’s bad for your health. Apparently, it just underwent a trendy, new rebrand this year.
What is Overfat?
“Overfat” is defined by researchers as the presence of excess body fat that can impair health, even for normal-weight, non-obese individuals.
The key ingredient of that sentence is “even for normal-weight, non-obese individuals”. Think: skinny people with beer guts.
You see, fat around the midsection, and organs specifically, is a key indicator of poor health. Even if a person is thin everywhere else, if they have that little beer gut or paunch, they could be at increased risk for metabolic disorders and heart disease and a host of other stuff nobody wants to deal with.
Kinda crazy, right?
You can have a normal BMI (Body Mass Index), meaning you’re at what was typically considered a healthy weight for your height, but you can still be unhealthy. You can still be overfat, which apparently something like 80% of people in the top 30 developed countries are.
As CNN so eloquently put it:
“Chances are, even if you’re not ‘fat’ by definition of these traditional measurements, you may still be ‘overfat’. And that’s going to have some seriously negative consequences for your overall health.”
Here, read this. Seems to be where it started trending.
At first I was real annoyed by this term. Forget obese, or just plain overweight, now we have to worry about being a special kind of thin but still fat too? Come on, you guys.
But unfortunately, it’s a real thing to worry about.
And honestly, after some further consideration, I’ve decided that it refreshingly puts less emphasis on the number on the scale and more emphasis on true health. It’s not just about losing 10 pounds anymore. It’s about actually getting healthy. The scale doesn’t really know shit.
How to Tell if You’re Overfat
The easiest way to do it at home is to measure your waist-to-height ratio. Your waist should be less than half your height in inches. On my normal, non-8-month-pregnant-body, my waist typically hovers around 28-30 inches. I’m just under 5 foot 6 (66 inches) tall so, my waist-to-height ratio would be .45 (or = 30” / 66”). Heyo! Not overfat, y’all! (Unless I’m messing that up because I’m shamefully bad at math.)
What You Can Do if You Are
If you’ve just done your weight-to-height ratio and are upset because it seems you’re in that 80% of humans in developed countries that are overfat, chill my friend. It’s okay. There’s lots you can do to change that. And quickly.
First up, I’d adopt a whole foods diet based on the paleo persuasion of low or no sugar, grains, carbs and dairy. That alone will likely help you shed that belly fat fast. (Rob Wolf has a great book everyone should read. Or you could also check out Whole30. Or our cleanse. All equally fantastic.)
Second, forget the treadmill and opt for some bodyweight, strength-building exercise instead. You can still do cardio if you want to but, cardio isn’t going to do much to change your fat to muscle situation, which is what you’ll want to be doing. Kayla has a great program. Jillian has some great free videos on the ‘Tube. And the New York Times even has a 7-minute workout app that’s glorious. The goal is to build muscle and get rid of flab. Bonus here being that even if you don’t shed pounds on the scale, your ass will look way better in jeans.
Third, drink lots of water, get plenty of rest, try to manage stress through stretching, meditation, calming rituals, listening to death metal, whatever floats your boat. Stress hormones, especially cortisol, contribute directly to gaining belly fat.
Basically, there’s no shortcut out of the land of the overfat. If you’re going to get healthy for real, you’ve got to drop quick fixes and all thoughts of juice cleanses. You’ve got to eat real, whole foods, exercise, rest and avoid processed grains and sugars.
We actually have an awesome cleanse that will walk you through it if you like. You can sign up for that right here.