General Question

nikipedia's avatar

What's the difference between losing weight and getting skinny?

Asked by nikipedia (28080points) March 16th, 2009

I understand the conventional wisdom for losing weight is to eat healthily and exercise. But that only works to a certain point. It’s not like if you continue to eat healthily and exercise, you continue losing weight indefinitely. And I know plenty of people who do both of those things religiously but aren’t skinny, as well as skinny people who do neither.

So I think there must be a lot of other factors—sleep, stress, type of calories you eat, and…other? What else contributes to determine the rate of your metabolism? What does that even mean, anyway?

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21 Answers

DrBill's avatar

If you eat the proper foods in the proper amounts, and exercise the proper amount, you will become your proper size, and that size is not the same for everyone.

You can continue to lose weight below that, but you risk malnutritition

AstroChuck's avatar

Let’s just say I can see myself losing weight.
I could never see myself getting skinny.

Allie's avatar

I think you can lose fat, but gain muscle and not lose weight (since muscles weighs more than fat).
Exercise usually builds muscle and burns fat, but like you said, a diet makes a difference too. You’re going to lose more fat by exercising and eating fruits and veggies than you will by exercising and eating chocolate and ice cream.

A_Beaverhausen's avatar

you have to lose weight to get skinny…

Darwin's avatar

Losing weight means that at least temporarily you are using up more calories than you are consuming so your body is taking energy from your reserves of fat and you have less body fat as a result.

Getting skinny means you have lost too much weight and need to add a few foods back into your diet.

The term “firming up” is more appropriate for the situation where you build muscle to replace fat and thus reduce your measurements.

The human body was not intended to be fat-free. Fat serves as insulation, padding, and emergency energy stores, and also tells the body (in the case of women) whether it is healthy enough to bear a child. Fat also serves to store certain vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K which are soluble in fats but not in water, and some small amount of fat is needed in the body’s cells for metabolism and in skin to keep it supple.

If you don’t have enough fat to keep you warm, to pad your bones so you can sit on a wooden chair, to store vitamins, to keep your skin smooth, or carry a child to term, you are skinny. The actual amount of fat needed to be healthy will vary by body type, gender and genetics.

The whole deal about weight is to balance out the amount of calories you use up in a day with the number of calories you take in as food. If you take in too little, you lose weight. If you take in too much, you gain. If you go too far in either direction, you have a problem.

skfinkel's avatar

Isn’t this a function of where you begin? A person who is overweight, when losing weight then gets healthier (theoretically). A person who starts off normal or thin, and then loses weight, gets skinny. Just how skinny a person gets depends on lots of factors, perhaps most on personal visions of herself. Obviously, if taken to extremes, this can turn into anorexia, but that becomes a disease of self -delusion, albeit one that can kill.

charliecompany34's avatar

losing weight is what we see after some time. getting skinny is what we see after you’ve lost weight over time. we say skinny after you’ve crossed the weight-loss threshold.

Lupin's avatar

I figure it’s calories in minus calories out. There are many tables and charts that show how much you burn by doing certain activities. Go to the mypyramid site and check out the numbers. Honestly look at what you eat and drink and keep in mind the true quantity. Contrary to what we want to believe, calories do not leak out of broken cookies.
We may not want to hear it but in 99% of the cases, if the scale is reading higher it’s because we are eating more calories than the work we are putting out.

casheroo's avatar

Genetics play a bigger part than everything. Some people just have the propensity to be bigger.
I am a thin woman, I’ve always been thin. My mother is a large woman, and my father is tall and skinny…I’ve got both genes, because I can gain weight easily, but it goes straight to my stomach. My brother is still 125lbs and 6’. Just as my father was til he was 35 years old.
I walk a lot, it keeps me fit and able to eat what I want. If I lay on my ass and eat poorly, I get out of shape. Not fat, but out of shape.
Losing weight is not the same for every person. They need to find what works for them, be it eating healthy, lots of cardio..or lots of core training, some people need certain kinds of exercise to lose weight. I personally need cardio, my husband needs more weight lifting.
I guess the difference between getting skinny and losing weight it…you lose weight to be healthy, getting skinny sounds to me the person just stops eating and gets unhealthily skinny.

ronski's avatar

I was talking to my friend the other day about skinny fat people. This is an interesting phenomenon: someone who appears to be thin, but has a very high percentage of fat in their body. This is very unhealthy.

The funny thing is that I have a healthy amount of fat in my body, but I am not skinny. I also tend to store my fat all in my mid section, which isn’t healthy, but even so I might be more healthy than the skinny person who is all fat.

So, I think some of it has to do with all those factors: genetics and metabolism. On the other hand, the skinniest person I know has lots of energy and eats very little. How she does this, I don’t know, but I think it’s because she isn’t obsessed with food like most people I know. Since I love food, I have to keep track of my calories and try to not eat more than 1800 calories a day! Hopefully less than that…

funkdaddy's avatar

From just experimenting with myself (your mileage may vary) the biggest factors seem to be

1) overall activity level – when I have jobs where I’m up and about most of the day, I’ve always stayed trim, just fluctuating depending on what I eat… when I’m a desk jockey, I always gain weight unless I really clamp down and watch what I’m doing… I take this to mean my metabolism is higher when I’m active, which makes sense
2) breakfast – if I don’t eat in the morning, I won’t get hungry until I start feeling light headed and I’ll have less energy, I interpret this as my metabolism being slower… by the same token a high protein breakfast really gets me going and I’ll be hungry again in a few hours
3) exercise – seems to keep my metabolism going for about a day and a half if I do “cardio” of some sort (this goes back to #1 as well)

Part of the question seems to be if anyone can “get skinny” or are there factors that just make it extremely unlikely for some folks. I think evidence suggests pretty much anyone who’s healthy and doesn’t have other medical factors can get to a healthy body composition where they are “tone” if that’s what they want to do. Whether or not that equals skinny I guess would just depend on the definition there. Going beyond tone to lose or redistribute muscle seems to be where factors beyond our control really start to kick in.

augustlan's avatar

Me on a diet = losing weight. At my height and build, 145lbs would be good.
Me with Hyperthyroid = skinny. At this same height and build, I weighed 114lbs.

Me with Hypothyroid = needs to go on a diet. Same height and build, I now weigh 215lbs. :(

mamabeverley's avatar

If you have been fat, most people will never see themselves a “skinny” I have always battled my weight. In high school, I was a swimmer, I trained 4–5 hours a day and watched what I ate. I still threw up everyday to keep my shape.(It was a very nice shape if I may say so)Then, I got fat, really fat. Then I had a baby and got fatter!(Like Mammy told Scarlett, “You done had a baby, you ain’t never gonna se 18 inches again”. Of course, She was complaining about be fat with a 20 inch waist!!Oh Please!) I am talking I am 5 feet tall and was a size 24. Then, after a while, I decided to get thin. So, I did. I dropped 85 pounds, and hit a size 6. I still did not see my self a “skinny”. I wanted that last 20 lbs to come off.

Never did. I got sick, had 2 surgeries six months apart, gained 28 lbs. and am now fighting to stay a size 12. I was cleaning out my closet the other day, and I found those size sixes, and said I was never that thin was I?? Psycologically, my “fat person eye” never saw the thin body. Just like most people don’t see themselves getting older!

I walk everyday, I live in a 3 story house, with the laundry in the basement, and bedrooms on the 3 floor. I eat fruit all day, I drink sugar free kool-aid because it has zero calories. I can maintain ok. But if I even smell something with chocolate in it, I SWEAR I can gain 2 lbs just from smelling it.

My family has always been “stout”. We were never little fragile people. My grandma always said there are Arabian Horses, and Clydesdales. Guess which ones we are?? Even when I was thin, I was never skinny. Big shoulders, big bottom, but tiny waisted. I hated those days, now I would love them!

Darwin's avatar

@mamabeverley – Nice to meet another Clydesdale. When I was young I was 5’ 8” tall, weighed 140 pounds and wore a size 14. Oddly enough, though my daughter (who periodically thinks she is fat) is an Arabian, at 5’ 8 1/2”, 140 pounds, and size 6! Her cousins are more like me. Neither one is fat but they have always been big girls. Life is not fair!

I also know about the business of gaining weight from just smelling something (or sometimes just thinking about it). I figure this all goes back to early days when my ancestors did a good job of surviving the cycles of feast and famine by being able to store vast quantities of energy. I believe geneticist James V. Neel once called this the “thrifty gene.” (see )

I understand his hypothesis has since been disproved, but I still believe in it. :-)

mamabeverley's avatar

Darwin, I watched a show on Discovery the other day, and thankfully(or not) you are right. They put 2 men that weighed about the same and similar heights, but with completly different builds into a tank with cold water to measure long term exposure to cold. Because of the “thicker” build of one of them, he had a much higher survival rate incase of an “emergency”.

I also believe in the thrifty gene, it is what keeps me from going crazy! Sometimes I don’t think they know what they are talking about! ;)

Darwin's avatar

@mamabeverley – from what I understand, they have since decided that it is a combination of factors, not just one gene, and that it seems to help folks survive in cold climates.

In any case, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

mamabeverley's avatar

@Darwin I wholeheartedly agree with you!!!

CMaz's avatar

Loosing weight can be measured. Skinny is a state of mind.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. Losing weight is to lose pounds, lightening up the body. I can get a harness and attach it to helium balloons and lose weight (won’t be able to travel too many places because of the balloons, but I will be lighter). Getting skinny is to lose inches off the body. Depending on your size you can lose some weight but still not appear all that skinny because you may have lost mass but the weight stays as denser muscle.

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