My assumption is that it does not, but I should explain.

It is a very commonly prescribed solution for "skinny fat" people to maintain their weight and begin adding muscle. The idea is that one will have put on, say, 15 lbs. of muscle by maintaining a high nitrogen balance, but keep the same amount of fat. This would bring the overall bodyfat percentage down.

If one has never lifted before, one would see major results in the arms and chest, muscles which can grow very large and thus sort of poke out through the fat, causing a much slimmer appearance.

Now, let's say that one carries a majority of their fat on their stomach. The abdominals are not muscles which protrude outward (very few people have genetics that would cause something like this), meaning that they would never get so massive that they would penetrate through a major layer of fat.

So, if one says that body recomposition can be the solution to so-called "skinny fat" (which for men almost always means stomach fat), do they mean to say that the fat in the stomach will go elsewhere due to a lower bodyfat percentage, or are they suggesting something else?

Keep in mind that we are NOT losing fat. If we began at 10 lbs., we are ending at 10 lbs. The overall amount of fat is static, we are only adding muscle.

  • 2
    Welcome to MedicalSciences.SE. You said "It is a very commonly prescribed solution for "skinny fat" people to maintain their weight and begin adding muscle." Can you please provide a link or 2 to back this claim along with others such as the claim that very few people have the genetics for "protruding abs"? Questions and answers in this site are required to be backed up with reliable references so that claims can be independently verified, regardless of the reader's background. Jul 14, 2019 at 7:13
  • I answered below and , if necessary, this can be moved to Physical Fitness SE.
    – Jan
    Jul 15, 2019 at 10:24

1 Answer 1


For skinny fat people, losing "all" abdominal fat could require too much weight loss; this is the logic behind the suggestion to start building muscles even if you still have some abdominal fat. You can later burn additional abdominal fat as part of muscle building, which requires energy, which can come from the abdominal fat.

When you build abdominal muscles and lose no body fat, your muscle/fat ration increases, but the abdominal fat does not move anywhere.

Body fat distribution is mainly genetically determined (Diabetologia, 2014, Nature Genetics, 2019).

When you lose body fat, the fat does not necessary disappear from the trained part of the body, according to this study Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2013):

In conclusion, the training program was effective in reducing fat mass, but this reduction was not achieved in the trained body segment.

However, according to another study Subcutaneous fat alterations resulting from an upper-body resistance training program (Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 2007), the spot reduction of body fat is possible:

Subcutaneous fat changes resulting from resistance training varied by gender and assessment technique. Skinfold findings indicate that spot reduction occurred in men but not in women.

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