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University of Birmingham study says there is no such thing as "fat but fit"?

2

Replies

  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,206 Member
    I have an overweight (right on the bubble of obese) friend who is quite fit in terms of being able to perform at a high level of fitness...this article doesn't seem to really be addressing actual fitness but rather overall health.

    I've often wondered if my friend's risks are lower even though he is pretty overweight but physically active and physically fit...his cardiovascular endurance capacity is actually very impressive. This article doesn't really seem to be addressing that though...
  • Packerjohn
    Packerjohn Posts: 4,855 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    I have an overweight (right on the bubble of obese) friend who is quite fit in terms of being able to perform at a high level of fitness...this article doesn't seem to really be addressing actual fitness but rather overall health.

    I've often wondered if my friend's risks are lower even though he is pretty overweight but physically active and physically fit...his cardiovascular endurance capacity is actually very impressive. This article doesn't really seem to be addressing that though...

    Not a medical professional, but I would say his risks would be lower than the typical obese individual, but someone like that is outside the norm.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,967 Member
    @cwolfman13 and @Packerjohn

    I've ridden with people like that. Overweight (even to the cusp of obesity) goes pretty well with cycling. It's not a weight bearing activity, it's low impact, plays to leg strength, can be done at variable intensity, etc. The people I've known like this were very fast on flat ground (impressive FTP) but not so much on climbs (less impressive w/kg). One of those guys lost a bunch of weight and became a beast.

    I call this "the anecdotal record." It's an important way to learn about the world, but it should take a back seat to better statistics.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,206 Member
    edited May 2017
    @cwolfman13 and @Packerjohn

    I've ridden with people like that. Overweight (even to the cusp of obesity) goes pretty well with cycling. It's not a weight bearing activity, it's low impact, plays to leg strength, can be done at variable intensity, etc. The people I've known like this were very fast on flat ground (impressive FTP) but not so much on climbs (less impressive w/kg). One of those guys lost a bunch of weight and became a beast.

    I call this "the anecdotal record." It's an important way to learn about the world, but it should take a back seat to better statistics.

    Yeah, that's like my friend for sure...he can kill me in the flats. I'm not the best climber myself, but that's because I get lazy on training for it which I'm working on, but I do better than he does.

    My assumption is that he's probably at less risk than someone who is obese and does nothing, but probably not all he could be on the health front...but his actual fitness capacity is rather impressive...he can go for days and likes tour riding and taking multiple day trips, etc which I don't think I could probably do at the moment...I've just always wondered on the health front where he stood.

    I've jokingly told him that if he just stopped using 12 packs of beer as a recovery food that he'd probably dump a lot of weight and totally kill it on the bike. I met him when I first got into riding and wanted to meet other riders and went on meetup.com...it was a 40 mile ride and I saw him and was like, "no way this guy is going to roll for 40 miles." Had to eat my words.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,967 Member
    I'd love to know more about people like that, too. I love rich and creamy Indian foods, raspberry smoothies, and tacos; it takes work to stay out of the category myself.
  • cqbkaju
    cqbkaju Posts: 1,011 Member
    edited May 2017
    My brother-in-law is a stocky guy and he used to ride in the MS-150 every year until other training priorities -and life in general- got in the way too much. His legs are practically like tree trunks although he could stand to lose some body fat. Like most people.
    Sort of a "dad-bod" I guess but he is in pretty good shape overall. Strong as an ox.

    The first time we worked out together I took him to the ground, which surprised him because he probably has 70 or 80 lbs on me.
    We rolled for a minute or so, but he was gassed out because he did not know how to breathe, relax or move efficiently in those positions.
    He could ride a bike for 150 miles but not roll for a minute or two before he was done.

    After literally watching the clock and counting down another 10 seconds out loud (because I'm a poopy head sometimes) I tapped him out with a kimura shoulder lock from inside my guard.

    Point is as most people know, your capacity for exercise has a high degree of specificity so defining "fitness" in these terms is almost meaningless. I wouldn't try riding a bike for 40 miles, forget 150.

    My buddy does triathlons, I would not dream of trying to match him in a pool, running or on a bike.
    But I know I will outlast him in a ring or cage; I've adapted to the endurance requirements and I know how to breathe to make the most of my energy reserves under that sort of stress.
    Now how long I would last on a treadmill is another thing entirely.
    My grip strength is much higher than his (tested with Captains of Crush grippers) but his forearms are bigger.
    Who is more fit? Depends on how you define it. Depends on the exercise.

    They use "fit" here when they should be focusing on "health risks".
    However "fat but fit" sounds better (alliteration) than "fat but healthy".
    Getting most of the population (especially "fitness enthusiasts" and medical professionals) to buy into the idea that being fat is healthy would be a hard sell anyway.
    Plus "fit" implies sexiness, as mentioned previously.
    The idea that you can be carrying too much body fat but still sexually desirable may help with how self-conscious people are about their weight and general appearance.
    In my experience skinny girls still think they are (or say they feel) fat.
    My wife says it all the time - she is 5'8" & maybe 120lbs - in a soaking-wet jiu-jitsu uniform!

    Unless there is an objective -or at least agreed to- standard for "fitness" then it is just a word, often used in marketing.

    My brother-in-law has been training with me for years now (3rd degree black belt in fact) and laughs about how bad his endurance on the ground was back then...
  • tomteboda
    tomteboda Posts: 2,171 Member
    edited May 2017
    For the link, go to the news article in the original post and find this paragraph:
    Professor Peter Nordstrom, who led the study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, said at the time: “These results suggest low BMI early in life is more important than high physical fitness with regard to reducing the risk of early death

    No paywall. Sorry, I'm on my cell and getting links in properly is no fun. I'm doing good to get a semi-coherent post.
  • ladyreva78
    ladyreva78 Posts: 4,080 Member
    edited May 2017
    tomteboda wrote: »
    For the link, go to the news article in the original post and find this paragraph:
    Professor Peter Nordstrom, who led the study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, said at the time: “These results suggest low BMI early in life is more important than high physical fitness with regard to reducing the risk of early death

    No paywall. Sorry, I'm on my cell and getting links in properly is no fun. I'm doing good to get a semi-coherent post.

    Here's the direct link for the lazy:
    https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/45/4/1159/2951637/Aerobic-fitness-in-late-adolescence-and-the-risk

    (I can't ever get links to work properly on my phone so I don't even bother trying anymore. I'm happy when I manage to quote correctly :wink: )
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,736 Member
    tomteboda wrote: »
    For the link, go to the news article in the original post and find this paragraph:
    Professor Peter Nordstrom, who led the study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, said at the time: “These results suggest low BMI early in life is more important than high physical fitness with regard to reducing the risk of early death

    No paywall. Sorry, I'm on my cell and getting links in properly is no fun. I'm doing good to get a semi-coherent post.

    Based on the chart, they could have just as easily identified an inverse relationship between height and risk of early death.
  • carolyn000000
    carolyn000000 Posts: 179 Member
    But still, being fat but fit has got to be better than fat and unfit. I wish that would have been addressed. Or, are they saying it doesn't matter?
  • tomteboda
    tomteboda Posts: 2,171 Member
    But still, being fat but fit has got to be better than fat and unfit. I wish that would have been addressed. Or, are they saying it doesn't matter?

    It was assessed, and you are correct.
  • MissusMoon
    MissusMoon Posts: 1,900 Member
    The risks of obesity go far beyond fitness. You can run and jump and ride if you're fit and overweight so long as your heart is healthy and your muscles are strong, but, if one is prone to carrying excess belly fat, there's a good chance it's visceral fat surrounding your internal organs raising your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease etc. I'd say one can be fat and fit because fit is generally measured as strength and/or endurance but it's near impossible to be fat and healthy in the long run.

    Absolute sanity.
  • cqbkaju
    cqbkaju Posts: 1,011 Member
    edited May 2017
    But still, being fat but fit has got to be better than fat and unfit. I wish that would have been addressed. Or, are they saying it doesn't matter?

    The research says "fat but fit" is a myth. It does not matter.
    They may be able to perform certain types of exercise but that does not mean a "fat" person is healthy or truly "fit".
    "They still have a higher risk of heart disease than normal-weight people."

    If you were truly "fit" then you would not be "fat". It is a matter of energy balance.
    Exercising hard enough and eating well enough to become "fit" usually means you will be losing at least some body fat.

    You cannot have it both ways. That is one reason why how we define "fit" matters so much.
    If "fit" is merely a measure of strength performance or cardio capacity then it needs to be measured and given some sort of standard or baseline.

    If you look at "fitness models" they are judged in part by aesthetics and body fat percentages, similar to bodybuilders.
    Contrast that to other athletes such as ones who run triathlons, compete in powerlifting or compete in Olympic weight lifting.
    They are all judged on different criteria. Who among them is the most "fit"?
    Extra body weight in powerlifting changes the leverages and enables competitors to move heavier loads -sometimes 1,000 pounds or more!- but at what cost? Read what Jim Wendler has to say on that subject.

    As a starting point, I feel you are not "fit" if you cannot deadlift as much as Shirley Webb, a 78-year old grandma who pulls 245lbs.
    I have additional guidelines, but that is one is objective and easy to test.
    People may disagree with me because they think other things are more important to being "fit".
    I train fighters, LEOs and military personnel so what matters to me is survivability and being able to carry a wounded squad member off the field.

    l5k9kqs2sxjq.jpeg
    h0v54rnx2pvr.png


  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,967 Member
    cqbkaju wrote: »
    If "fit" is merely a measure of strength performance or cardio capacity then it needs to be measured and given some sort of standard or baseline.

    It sounds like you just described VO2max (aerobic capacity) which is the amount of oxygen you can make use of, normalized by weight. When people say "competitive Nordic skiers are the fittest people on Earth" what that means is the best VO2max scores ever recorded have been ski racers.

    vo2-max-chart.jpg
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,736 Member
    edited May 2017
    cqbkaju wrote: »
    But still, being fat but fit has got to be better than fat and unfit. I wish that would have been addressed. Or, are they saying it doesn't matter?

    The research says "fat but fit" is a myth. It does not matter.
    They may be able to perform certain types of exercise but that does not mean a "fat" person is healthy or truly "fit".
    "They still have a higher risk of heart disease than normal-weight people."

    If you were truly "fit" then you would not be "fat". It is a matter of energy balance.
    Exercising hard enough and eating well enough to become "fit" usually means you will be losing at least some body fat.

    You cannot have it both ways. That is one reason why how we define "fit" matters so much.
    If "fit" is merely a measure of strength performance or cardio capacity then it needs to be measured and given some sort of standard or baseline.

    If you look at "fitness models" they are judged in part by aesthetics and body fat percentages, similar to bodybuilders.
    Contrast that to other athletes such as ones who run triathlons, compete in powerlifting or compete in Olympic weight lifting.
    They are all judged on different criteria. Who among them is the most "fit"?
    Extra body weight in powerlifting changes the leverages and enables competitors to move heavier loads -sometimes 1,000 pounds or more!- but at what cost? Read what Jim Wendler has to say on that subject.

    As a starting point, I feel you are not "fit" if you cannot deadlift as much as Shirley Webb, a 78-year old grandma who pulls 245lbs.
    I have additional guidelines, but that is one is objective and easy to test.
    People may disagree with me because they think other things are more important to being "fit".
    I train fighters, LEOs and military personnel so what matters to me is survivability and being able to carry a wounded squad member off the field.

    l5k9kqs2sxjq.jpeg
    h0v54rnx2pvr.png


    Did you seriously quote Rippetoe when trying to debunk fit but fat?

    maxresdefault.jpg?type=w800
  • cqbkaju
    cqbkaju Posts: 1,011 Member
    edited May 2017
    @NorthCascades
    Agreed, VO2max is one way to measure fitness. But what about strength? Flexibility?
    There are many other attributes, right?

    @stanmann571
    If you want to consider Coach Rippetoe to be "fit but fat" at age 61 when he probably still deadlifts, squats, benches, etc. more than both of us put together then that is your prerogative. Last I heard he still does 20 rep pull-ups at that size. We have not defined what his body fat percentage is either.

    I did not say Coach Rip wasn't carrying extra body fat anyway.
    I was referencing his quote on strength being important in contrast to something like VO2max, per @NorthCascades

    If someone wants to use Coach Rip (or any of the other strength coaches for that matter) as the role model for "fit but fat" maybe first clear it with them and then make sure your lifts are in line with what they push and pull.
    It is well-known that these sort of guys deliberately add bulk to move more weight and that they don't cut because it would affect their leverages and how much they lift.

    Again, it is a matter of what is important to them and how they define "fit".
    If someone else of Coach Rip's age and body fat percentage can do what he does and you wish to call that "fit but fat" then have fun. And maybe don't call Rip "fat" to his face.
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,736 Member
    cqbkaju wrote: »
    @NorthCascades
    Agreed, VO2max is one way to measure fitness. But what about strength? Flexibility?
    There are many other attributes, right?

    @stanmann571
    If you want to consider Coach Rippetoe to be "fit but fat" at age 61 when he probably still deadlifts, squats, benches, etc. more than both of us put together then that is your prerogative. Last I heard he still does 20 rep pull-ups at that size. We have not defined what his body fat percentage is either.

    I did not say Coach Rip wasn't carrying extra body fat anyway.
    I was referencing his quote on strength being important in contrast to something like VO2max, per @NorthCascades

    If someone wants to use Coach Rip (or any of the other strength coaches for that matter) as the role model for "fit but fat" maybe first clear it with then and then make sure your lifts are in line with what they push and pull.
    It is well-known that these sort of guys deliberately add bulk to move more weight and that they don't cut because it would affect their leverages and how much they lift.

    Again, it is a matter of what is important to them and how they define "fit".
    If someone else of Coach Rip's age and body fat percentage can do what he does and you wish to call that "fit but fat" then have fun. And maybe don't call Rip "fat" to his face.

    That's called moving the goalposts.
  • cqbkaju
    cqbkaju Posts: 1,011 Member
    edited May 2017
    That's called moving the goalposts.
    Not at all. It is pointing to where the goalposts might be and telling you to feel free to go there.

    But while you are heading in that direction, understand that other people do not necessarily consider Coach Rippetoe to be "fit".
    Someone like @NorthCascades might want to measure his VO2max to determine if he is "fit" and may not care about how strong he is.
    That has been my point all along.

    You cannot have it both ways. Until everyone agrees on what "fit" means it is just a word.
    Just because I agree with him that strength to be important doesn't mean I consider Coach Rippetoe to be "fit", even if he can lift more than me.