Fit and Fat?

Is it possible to be fit and fat at the same time?

Researchers at Albert Einstein College found that despite their weight, nearly a third of obese people are not at high risk of diabetes or heart disease.

OK, not exactly a ringing endorsement in favor of obesity, but how about this…

A recent German study found that for normal and overweight people, excess belly fat is a strong link to heart disease and diabetes. However, for their obese cousins, belly fat is not such a big deal. For the obese, a fatty liver is a more accurate risk factor.

According to this study, obese people who get at least moderate physical exercise tend to have less fatty livers.

OK, here we go.

Fit and fat!

According to Dr. Wylie-Rosett (Albert Einstein College): “In our study, the obese people with better risk profiles tended to have more physical activity. And the normal-weight people with worse risk factors tended to have characteristics associated with lower physical activity levels.”

  • Alright, now we’re getting somewhere.
  • Maybe it is possible for obese people to be fit.
  • Maybe fitness is more than having a six-pack.
Beer belly....Six pack???
Beer belly….Six pack???

Maybe fitness means not having visceral fat around your internal organs, improving insulin sensitivity, having a healthy blood pressure, along with well developed aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.

How about we throw in some quality of life factors like enough muscular strength and balance to go about your daily activities without the aid of an electric scooter.


So what is it?

Can you be fit and fat?

My answer:

  • Yes…in theory. It is possible to carry excess fat and still be healthy as a result of a complete fitness program.
  • No…in reality. While there is a slim minority of people who gain excess fat due to a medical condition, the vast majority of obese people are obese as a result of their lifestyle. They eat too much and move too little. Until they change these habits, the resultant obesity will have a negative impact upon their health.


  1. “How about we throw in some quality of life factors like enough muscular strength and balance to go about your daily activities without the aid of an electric scooter.”

    Oh gosh, you are so going to be called a fatophobe for that. HA!

  2. DR, I’ve been following your blog since it began… I just wanted to congratulate you on your Google page rank (PR) of 5 which I noticed during Google’s most recent PR update. It’s great to see that you can focus more on writing quality article posts than SEO and probably get a higher PR as a result. PR5 is very impressive–especially since you’re blog is relatively new.

    As for your recent post on obesity, I agree that excess weight and fitness don’t go hand in hand.

  3. Even if your organs are nice and healthy, your hips, back, and knees are going to eventually notice the excess weight.

  4. Actually I used to work out for an hour a day, 5 days a week, weights cardio etc. I didn’t go on a diet however, and yes, I gained weight. I figured somewhere there was some skinny assed guy pumping weights hoping he would bulk up, and here I was a woman in her 30’s starting to look like She Hulk…..My doctor said I was fit like an athlete. Everything checked out…and my pulse was slow even after heavy cardio….

    Later after I broke up with my bf, I went on this depression hunger strike and I lost like 50 lbs in 3 months…was that muscle ..who knows but it wasn’t healthy. Now I try to combine eating less with a daily 1 hour walk with my dog…a much more sensible approach to being “fit”.

  5. can you be fat and fit? Yes IMO opinion. Can you be fat and healthy? Now there’s a different question!

    Mind you, I suppose it depends on how you close someone as being physically fit. For this I’ll take myself as I think I’m both fat and fit. I’m 5’8 and about 13 stone at present with a ~34″ waist and a BF% in the low 20’s. Am I fat – yes! Am I fit – equally yes. I’ve done Olympic distance triathlons in under 3hrs and can do more body weight exercises than most of my slimmer friends so have a good strength base IMO. How many fat people do you know who can do 10+ fingertip chin-ups off a door frame? personally, not many 🙂 lol

    So again there is the great fat v healthy question which is too often blurred under fat = unhealthy and you’re going to die etc.

    Nice post though and I’ll definitely follow your blog now.

  6. DR, do a search for “Google page rank”. He means you got a 5/10 score. I don’t really understand what it means. Something to do with links in/links out, and your blogs place in the web universe of “tubes”.

    Great post! The Sumo wrestler probably eats more calories than the guy on the scooter, yet he is definitely “fit”, and definitely has very little visceral fat around his organs compared to the blob on wheels, because he exercises. Those Sumo guys do nothing but sleep, eat, and train.

    Your probably giving fuel to the fat fire for the fatophiles that seek out the few sources that help them argue their belief that any claim that being overweight is unhealthy is bogus. You’re not asking if it’s possible to be fat and healthy, although being “fit” does play a big role in being healthy.

    “Healthy” is a more ambiguous term, and unfortunately it is bent in various ways to mean different things for different people that are trying to justify different things. Namely, being obese.

  7. For this I’ll take myself as I think I’m both fat and fit. I’m 5′8 and about 13 stone at present with a ~34″ waist and a BF% in the low 20’s. Am I fat – yes! Am I fit – equally yes.

    Graycat, I’m similarly proportioned. I was definitely “fatter” last year, before my wife and I signed up for 3 or 4 months of personal training last year. I’ve since kept up the routine (well, mostly), and at my last checkup, my blood pressure and cholesterol were lower, and I can now kick butt on the “stress test” treadmill. I hate running, but I bike regularly for both exercise and cardio.

    According to the charts, I’m fat. I’d really like to lose another 20 pounds, mainly off of my gut (that would get me from a 36″ to 34″ pants), but it’s – slowly – dropping off. I’m in better shape than any of my friends, but amazingly, even 170 pounds is still considered to be overweight. Yet I don’t think that anyone could call me either unhealthy or unfit.

    I just tried to do a finger chin-up from the door frame, and the molding started to pull away from the frame. Damn! 😉

  8. the more i think about it thae harder it is to just lose weight and keep it like that… is one’s state of ‘fat” partly psychological?

  9. I think this article is right on. In the past you’ve touched tangentially on this issue by noting that excess body fat is really sympomatic of underlying medical problems, some of which may not be readily tested by doctors, such as hormonal imbalances, mental health problems, pre-diabetes or early insulin resistance, or diseases that manifest in old age. I was told by my GP that certain minority groups need to be aware that “normal” is lower for their population with regard to acceptable cholesterol and waist circumferance, so it’s not acceptable to be overweight but content with decent yearly physicals.

  10. I agree with the quote, “Maybe fitness is more than having a six-pack.”

    I know people that on the outside look healthy, but on the inside they are at high risk for many health conditions such as blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.

    Being “fit” is a balance of inside and outside factors.

  11. Ya, I think there is a fine line between possibly being fat and fit, and just being fat and unhealthy. You would think though that with the things that go along with being fit (i.e. exercise) you would lose weight thus not be fat. Although like you mentioned just because you have a six pack doesn’t mean you are fit. There are plenty of malnourished people who have six packs that are by no means fit.

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