Fat and Fit – Can you really Be Both


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Both men and women use the same formula, a ratio of height to weight that helps assess whether they are underweight, normal weight, or overweight. Can you truly be fat and fit at the same time? You’ve probably thought so.

Over the past couple of years there have been various talking heads proclaiming that it’s entirely possible to be “fit” even though you’re technically overweight, or obese. However, new research seems to definitively state that being fit and fat are diametrically opposed. Can You Be Both Fat and Fit? Experts weigh in with surprising opinions on whether you can be both physically fit and overweight. I agree that people should work out to be healthy.

It’s not usually possible to be fit and fat since fat people are usually nutrient deprived even if they don’t realize it. The research actually tells us very little that is useful in how fitness levels can affect CVD and cancer risk and whether it is possible to be both “fat and fit”. A: The short answer is yes—it is possible to be fit and overweight, even obese. What’s really important to understand is what “fit” means and what “overweight” means relative to your health. The latter is typically defined by body mass index (BMI), a common measurement of body fat based on height and weight.

According to this calculation, people with a BMI of 30 or more are. It’s definitely possible to be fit and have a BMI in the overweight or obese range. BMI was intended to assess the health risks of excess weight in populations.

It’s just a ratio of height to weight, and it assumes that a certain percentage of weight is fat. ‘Fat but fit’ is absolutely possible. Despite what clicky headlines want you to believe.

I am a middle aged woman. I am fat, with a BMI of approaching 30. However, I work out aerobically everyday, even weekends, for an hour.

I sustain a METS of about 10 10.5 the whole 60 minutes, and I keep my heartrate about 90% of maximum the whole time. I feel good for the hour, and it only takes a few minutes for me to feel recovered. A woman who is considered fit has between 21 and 24 percent body fat, and a fit man falls between 14 and 17 percent.

Higher than this is considered the average category which is still an acceptable amount of fat.

List of related literature:

Can you be both fit and fat?

“Exercise Is Medicine: How Physical Activity Boosts Health and Slows Aging” by Judy Foreman
from Exercise Is Medicine: How Physical Activity Boosts Health and Slows Aging
by Judy Foreman
Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2020

Being fat but fit is far better than being fat and unfit, or being thin but unhealthy due to restrictive dieting.

“Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook” by Nancy Clark
from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook
by Nancy Clark
Human Kinetics, 2019

In either case, “fat and affliction are mutually exclusive.”

“Islam and Travel in the Middle Ages” by Houari Touati, Lydia G. Cochrane
from Islam and Travel in the Middle Ages
by Houari Touati, Lydia G. Cochrane
University of Chicago Press, 2010

As a result, it’s possible to be overweight as defined by BMI while also being very active and healthy.

“Health Opportunities Through Physical Education” by Corbin, Charles B, McConnell, Karen, Le Masurier, Guy, Corbin, David, Farrar, Terri
from Health Opportunities Through Physical Education
by Corbin, Charles B, McConnell, Karen, et. al.
Human Kinetics, 2014

Indeed, definitions of “fat” and “thin” change from time to time and place to place.

“Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery” by Sander L. Gilman
from Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery
by Sander L. Gilman
Princeton University Press, 2000

For fat replacement, two different concepts are possible.

“Ingredients in Meat Products: Properties, Functionality and Applications” by Rodrigo Tarté
from Ingredients in Meat Products: Properties, Functionality and Applications
by Rodrigo Tarté
Springer New York, 2009

It is possible to be overweight without being obese, as in the case of a bodybuilder with great muscle mass.

“The New Wellness Revolution: How to Make a Fortune in the Next Trillion Dollar Industry” by Paul Zane Pilzer
from The New Wellness Revolution: How to Make a Fortune in the Next Trillion Dollar Industry
by Paul Zane Pilzer
Wiley, 2012

But it is possible to be fit and unhealthy.

“Chris Beat Cancer: A Comprehensive Plan for Healing Naturally” by Chris Wark
from Chris Beat Cancer: A Comprehensive Plan for Healing Naturally
by Chris Wark
Hay House, 2018

You can be thin and still have visceral fat if you’re not fit.

“Mom Energy” by Ashley Koff, R.D., Kathy Kaehler
from Mom Energy
by Ashley Koff, R.D., Kathy Kaehler
Hay House, 2011

It’s possible to be very fit, at least relative to the general population, and yet not be healthy.

“The Triathlete's Training Bible: The World’s Most Comprehensive Training Guide, 4th Ed.” by Joe Friel
from The Triathlete’s Training Bible: The World’s Most Comprehensive Training Guide, 4th Ed.
by Joe Friel
VeloPress, 2016

Alexia Lewis RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Heath Coach who believes life is better with science, humor, and beautiful, delicious, healthy food.

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  • Litterally watching this as I am trying to lose the last 8kg of my 50kg weight loss( was 132kg when I started)…This video acctually helped giving me some more motivation. Thank you

  • Michelle is an intelligent person but clueless on the subject of weight loss yet thinks she’s an expert on it who only needs to practice it. The truth is. IF YOU HAVE WEIGHT ISSUES YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO AND HOW TO DO IT.

  • Well done Mate, that is huge effort, I quit smoking cigarettes in 2005 and stacked on weight with over eating. Hit 103 at 6ft in 2006, never been triple figures either.

    Took up running, been 78kg to 82kg range for 13 years, but took discipline and routine. Beer �� is my weaknesses

  • Jesus she’s so annoying. She says he’s dramatic for saying he’s overweight. Check calculators mate Google it it ain’t dramatising it’s true he was clinically obese

  • This was supper motivating. And inspiring. I started my way back down from 120 kilos to 100 kilos now. This documentary proved me it was possible

  • Great job man. This always makes me happy. The single best thing about having a high body fat percentage is the fact that you can still increase strength gains while in a deficit.

  • Watched this when I was in shape, and didn’t understand what he was complaining about when he was fat. Now that I am fat myself trying to get back watching this again, it’s like a totally different documentary. No doubt that I have taken valuable advice from this, and that it is motivating. I’ll be watching this a few more times I think bk in the coming months. Great documentary PJ

  • If this women would want to loose weight as hard as it is she would strugle it to the end!! She is not and just look for excuses thats why she is there where she is nothing more!

  • dam, michelle. so painful to have someone rationalize and be in denial that hard. she literally had no valid excuse already, just grasping at whatever straw.

  • Loved this only discovered it today ����
    Really motivating too I’m down 17 kg thanks to calorie counting and running and need that final push of the last couple of kilos well done and inspiring years later.

  • I kinda hate Michelle BUT understanding her at the same time.
    She’s a woman plus overweight.
    She need a drill plus empathy at the same time. But she has the willpower of a sponge, it soaks in fast but loses it all when she’s slightly touched at her comfort zone.

    Being myself always a kid and got fit to fat to fit to fat to fit so many times but one day you’ll change your whole life and stay healthy and fit.

    Im thinking about copying your documentary and making 2-3 obese people fit while I’m eating what they would eat to show them what they’re doing to themselves

  • I can’t imagine how much food you would have to eat to gain that much weight the fast!! So many high calorie foods! I feel kinda sick thinking about it.

  • Wow michelle was so ignorant and stubborn. He really wanted to help her but she used anything as an excuse to stay fat. She expected to lose the weight her way when she couldn’t do it any other time. He was willing to help teach her how to do it healthy and she fought it and actually thinks he was afraid that she could do it without her. That is ridiculous, he was genuinely trying to teach her and her i know it all attitude ruined her opportunity to get to her target weight and develop a healthy relationship with food… I hope she watched this and sees how sick she is in terms of stying fat and being scared to change….

  • Definitely relatable I’ve gained about 50 pounds during quarantine and want to lose it, but have trouble being motivated and tend to make excuses for myself. This is eye opening.

  • This is my 3rd time watching this and I loved watching it. It is so educational and to see what you when through is eye opening. Thanks PJ:)

  • Aye yo I’m turning 15 in October and I’ve been losing weight and working out in my garage. Can I have any tips like what you did to get to your goal?

  • Since hitting my 40s with hormone levels changing, I’m wearing 30 extra pounds that I can’t get to budge.
    In my previous life I’d lost and kept off 40 pounds on my 5’3″ frame with weight training, being a massage therapist, and mostly disordered eating.

  • Michelle was using PJ as a cop-out. I’m sure it was insulting for PJ to be lamenting about his weight gain in front of her and her indirect accusations of being vain and superficial and the assumption that like no one who is fat could possibly be happy. But at the end of the day it was a cop ut. Wonder where she is now.

  • Guy has the mindset of a fucking champion, to go fat and back to ripped. Everyone is trying to come up with excuses as to why he could do it but they can’t, they must not have understood why he spent a year of his life trying to help them

  • As someone who was 95 at the age of 15 a few years back going into highschool I came to a realisation, even if I was comfortable being obese i looked like a piece of ham. During the course of a year I dropped 20kg and put on muscle, I’m happier than ever and it realy changed me. Watching this I think that this is the most accurate depiction ever and am happy to have this resource out there. It was like having a walk down memory lane and I applaud you.

  • I m too skinny. I m 158cm tall. I was 35kg two years ago. I tried my best to gain weight, now i m 40kg. Tbh. It s really difficult to gain weight. I eat a lot. I just dont gain any weight, however my family n friends r bigger than me. But we eat the same meals!

  • 15 months ago I was at my highest weight I’ve ever been (331 pounds) I’m at 210 now. I’ve been fat my entire adult life but I can guarantee no matter what point you’re at in your life you can make a change, thank you for making this documentary and encouraging people to change their lives ��

  • I just want to say thank you. This was a really significant sacrifice. I really see that you did this to empathize and understand what it is really like to be obese so that you could better help others. You truly experienced the emotional and psychological experience of this illness which was what obesity is. Then you successfully overcame it which was such an achievement. Thank you.

  • Amazing transformation & incredible work no doubt. But later in the video I suspect just very little amount of Trenbolone going on. I might be wrong but that jawline is suspect

  • This is awesome I love that he did this to see how it really would feel yeah that kind of food is addictive I thought he got a little cuter after gain weight though which is strange

  • How was he so willing to work with a personality like Michelle? She is combative, makes excuses, and doesn’t seem to want to change enough to put much effort in.

  • I feel sad for Hayley, being a skinny person she had go through eating all that sugar, it’s not a healthy way to gain weight. People are supporting Rob like he is some gem. God help me.

  • Man that’s nothing, I went from shredded to morbidly obese, I still haven’t gotten ripped again but it’s only been like a year and I’ll start tomorrow��

  • I’m so shocked about all these black & white thinking comments! Yeah Michelle is definitive in denial, about being happy, if she would be she wouldn’t have tried all these unhealthy diets. But she is right when she is saying it doesn’t motivate her to go to the gym and hearing there every time that she is disgusting (indirectly because PJ says that about himself). When Michelle told PJ why all this doesn’t work for her, PJ becomes very confrontative and says he gets kind of a “poor me” attitude. Nooooo one, nooooo person in the world would now say “ouhh, you’re right” and being serious. At this point, she is becoming defensive. On some level, she maybe has a poor-me attitude, but here she told him why this doesn’t work and instead of listing to her he is kicking someone, who is already laying on the ground.
    PJ did something that was really hard and he had his own struggles, Michelle shows some empathy for that and try to explain her own struggles. It doesn’t seem like PJ tries to really understand where Michelle is coming from, he tries to understand her by seeing the struggles he himself had to deal with, but Michelle is a different person.
    Michelle is someone who clearly suffers and tried a lot of extreme methods to change and if all the effort was useless of course you get frustrated and even a bit bitter. Her self-esteem clearly suffered and you can’t compare that with the self-esteem of someone who used to be fit and a model. The doctors told us, why she is failing with all these unhealthy diets. The big problem is and this was also PJs problem: no one wants to lose weight, we want to be fit and thin! You can see that by the sometimes unrealistic expectations PJ had on his weightloss journey.
    PJ said: “You expect people to go your way”, but he has the same issue. We are all different and what may work for PJ doesn’t apply to everyone. Yeah his way works for him for different reasons, but everyone has a different daily life, different issues to deal with. I think PJ and Michelle are both sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Yeah life can be unfair and we shouldn’t expect everybody to show some empathy, but we can expect it from some people.

    Before they can change some people need to learn to love themselves! To love yourself SHOULD NEVER be an excuse and DOESN’T mean, to tell yourself it’s okay to live unhealthily, either extreme way. It should be a way to value yourself more so you make better decisions for your life.
    Michelle at this point doesn’t love herself and clearly, PJ also doesn’t love himself with the overweight. So no wonder that this combination failed (Also he already was at the goal of being thin and fit and knows how it will feel like, while Michelle is starting a journey where she doesn’t have the same clear vision, there are a lot of uncertainties. These are completely different mindsets).
    And PJ himself admits, that at this point in his life he wasn’t the right person to help her. THAT IS BIG!! So all these people here, who tell awful things about Michelle just listen to what PJ has to say in the end. What he did was huge and very difficult! So if even someone like him struggled with that, how difficult must it be for all the other people. We should admire and cheer PJ for what he had done! He did something amazing! But his adventure also should tell us how difficult it must be for other people, who struggle with that their whole life.

    To glorify either unhealthy way is in itself unhealthy! You can be a bit overweight or a bit underweight and be healthy and happy. You don’t have to look like a model to be happy. If you want to archive that goal, go for it! But love yourself enough to do it in a healthy way and give your body enough time to coup with it. Enjoy the journey and don’t beat yourself down.

  • I think a simple apology for the early interactions (wrong or not) would’ve made a difference in attitude for the rest of the training. Sometimes it is not about who is right or wrong, but it is about sharing perspectives and understanding each others perspective, even if theirs has to do with perception or something that is out of your control. Clarifying that it wasn’t your intention to make her feel “disgusting” or uncomfortable was necessary. We don’t know what happened off camera though.

  • anyone else think the secret pizza eating bust was staged? “you gotta call before you come over…” drama…

    as a guy who has lost 40kg in 4 months (270-180lbs when i was 19) i just dont find it believable. he would be so excited to drop that weight and get sexy again

  • This guy doesn’t know anything about fitness. If he did, he’d know that weight fluctuates everyday by a few pounds due to water and waste storage. Cardio also isn’t the key to fat loss, diet is. The fact he’s trying to influence his client into believing those things is just stupid. He shouldn’t be taking someone who’s never worked out and throw them into HIIT training. That will get them to lose motivation and it won’t teach them any good long term habits. Also scolding her for a gain of a couple lbs in a day (weight fluctuates, remember?) is just wrong and he doesn’t even know how basic nutrition works.

  • I’ve been slowly watching this while prepping my meals each week, just finished. Great job!
    My problem though is I’m a hardgainer, and trying to gain muscle mass. Tried many things but no real success (yet!)