We all have at least 1 friend who barely even tries (if at all) but still doesn’t gain any weight. Seems kind of unfair, doesn’t it? So, why does it happen?
How do skinny people stay skinny?
Well, it’s a lot of things, really. There’s lifestyle and food choices, obviously, but it could also be genetics. I think the latter is the most complicated of them all.
For one, some studies suggest that having certain genes put people at more risk for obesity. On the other hand, other studies suggest the opposite – that not having enough of certain genes make some people more likely to get fat.
But while there have been multiple links between obesity and heredity, many, if not all these studies also mentioned environmental and behavioral factors. That’s why you see twins that started off identical become polar opposites when it comes to their weight.
So, inheriting “fat genes” from mom and dad isn’t the be-all and end-all for how you’re going to shape out – and that’s what we’re focusing on today. We’re talking habits, food choices, and other things that you can control to be skinny and stay that way. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
How to be skinny
To truly get this, you have to understand the principle of energy balance, so let’s address that first.
It basically means that whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight depends on the ratio between your energy intake (calories you eat) and energy expenditure (calories you burn).
Specifically for weight loss, you want your energy intake to consistently be less than your energy expenditure. This is otherwise known as negative energy balance – and when you’re in this state, your body relies on stored fuel rather than what you get externally from food, ultimately leading to weight loss.
Then, when you finally get to your desired weight, maintaining it means making your energy intake and energy expenditure be more or less equal.
This is where habits – including lifestyle and food choices – come into play. Of course, your genetic makeup may make this part tougher but, nevertheless, skinny people have patterns that you can emulate to help you stay slender. Let’s talk about that.
Habits of skinny people
They move more
Lucky for you, this doesn’t always mean being in the gym more than other people. It’s really just as I said – they generally move more.
Oh, the elevator’s full? They don’t mind taking the stairs. The front parking slots are all taken? Walking from further away doesn’t bother them.
On top of that, have you ever noticed these skinny people be so jittery sometimes? Drumming on pens, shaking their legs, walking around, and basically just doing something (whatever it is they do).
While these are relatively small actions, doing them burns more calories than just sitting down. And, according to research, these small, fidgety actions may be the reason skinny people expend more calories.
They probably sleep better
A study on the relationship between sleep and obesity has found that sleep deprivation led to the following:
- Reduced glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity
- Increased cortisol (the stress hormone) levels at night
- Elevated levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone)
- Decreased levels of leptin (the satiety hormone)
All in all, these hormonal changes are going to make you feel stressed and hungry. And when you do eat? Man, you’re barely satisfied.
So if you want to be skinny, I suggest you get some sleep. About 7-9 hours to be more precise.
They drink more water
Even if they do drink other beverages, have you noticed how they also drink a lot of water?
This might be a bit of a shocker because water is the most basic thing in the world but the truth of the matter is that a lot of us don’t drink enough H2O. From my point of view, it seems like a lot of us tend to neglect our watery needs because we drink more bobas, energy drinks, sodas, lattes, and a bunch of other sweet stuff.
These drinks are packed with added sugar – the kind you add to food like table sugar, honey, etcetera. And, according to research, diets high in these sugars promote obesity.
You and I both likely fall victim to this as the study also says that the US population, as a whole, consumes 300% more added sugar than the daily recommended dose.
On that note, consuming less of these unnaturally sweet foods may make staying skinny more doable. Instead, drink water. It has zero calories and takes up space in your stomach, so you don’t feel as hungry.
In fact, try to drink 2 glasses of water prior to any meal. Research says it can instantly make you eat less.
They eat like sloths
I’m sure you have a friend who eats slower than everyone else. I know I do. There are 2 of them, actually, and both of them are still slimmer than the rest of our peers.
Anyhow, who knew that this sometimes irritating habit of theirs somehow helped them stay slim? As one research suggests, eating slowly helps you feel fuller which, ultimately, can help you consume fewer calories throughout the day.
According to another study, one reason this happens is that chewing your food more also prolonged the meal duration which, in turn, turns down your appetite. Another research supports this notion by showing how chewing more also meant less ghrelin, so you don’t feel as hungry.
They’re boring eaters
What I mean by this is that they don’t always seek variety in their food. They have staples that they eat most days of the week. However, this can be a double-edged sword.
On one end, it’s great because being satisfied with certain foods means fewer cravings for other types. I personally believe this is an important part of learning how to eat whatever you want and stay skinny.
But, on the other end, these staples might not always be healthy. Hence, why you see some skinny people eat chips and still not get fat.
However, research says that many foods in the Western diet are “hyperpalatable” which promotes overeating. These types of food are packed with fat, sugar, and salt that isn’t only unhealthy, but also addicting. So, this route might not be doable for everyone.
All in all, I urge you to find satisfaction in everyday food but also choose staples that are clean and healthy.
I’m not telling you to fully abandon these hyperpalatable foods though. You can have them every now and then but, on most days, choose to regularly have fruits and vegetables in your diet, choose whole grain over refined grain, pick lean sources of protein, and seek out healthy, unsaturated fat over its damaging counterpart.
They stop short of overeating
…but they also don’t condemn themselves for occasionally indulging.
But, first of all, there’s a difference between being physically full and the psychological feeling of fullness. When you’re physically full, your stomach is filled to the brim (i.e. overeating). The psychological feeling of “fullness”, on the other hand, means that you are satiated.
Skinny people who’ve maintained their physiques acknowledge this feeling of satiety and generally don’t eat more than they need which helps them maintain their weight.
On a scale of 1-10 where 1 is when you’re starving and 10 is when you’re beyond full, you want to stop at 5 or 6. This sweet spot is where you feel satisfied and have enough food to function despite having more than enough room to chow down more food.
That being said, skinny people do indulge from time to time. The difference is that when this happens, they don’t guilt-trip themselves.
This nonchalant behavior prevents stress from building up which, as research suggests, helps steer them away from obesity.
On a similar note…
They don’t always eat when they feel like they want to
Unlike many overweight individuals who eat whenever they feel hungry, people who’ve been skinny for a good amount of time know that having the urge to eat isn’t always a signal to stuff their mouths.
This is a good thing because that urge might not necessarily be hunger. It could be that you just don’t have anything better to do (i.e. boredom eating).
Research says that boredom amplifies the desire to snack on both unhealthy food and healthy but exciting food. So, if you don’t actually feel hungry, you might as well do other things to keep you busy. But if you can’t fight it, at least try to pick something that’s good for you. Like fruit and eggs, for example.
Now, you might be asking:
If I eat unhealthy but exercise will I lose weight?
Short answer: Yes, you can.
However, that’s not the best way to do it. Exercise burns more calories which can help put you in a state of negative energy balance (which we will talk more of in a bit) but making unhealthy foods the staples of your diet will put you at a significantly higher risk for all sorts of hormonal imbalances – such as insulin and leptin resistance – and disease.
That being said, eating unhealthy food while exercising may work for the short-term but it can also make losing weight and maintaining a slender figure more challenging than it should be over the long haul.
But, since you guys are asking, let’s talk about it anyway.
How to eat whatever you want and lose weight
Count your calories
This may be the single greatest advice I can give to anyone who wants to lose weight without getting too restrictive (if at all) with food.
Again, the concept is simple: stay in a state of negative energy balance and you’re going to lose weight. So, if you were ever wanted to know how to eat junk food and not get fat, this is it.
Many people seem to think this is hard to do, though, but I find it becomes so much easier with the help of modern technology. For instance, there are several apps and websites that help you figure out your daily caloric needs.
MayoClinic’s calorie calculator, for example, uses your age, height, current weight, and sex to give you an estimate of how many calories you need to maintain your figure. To safely lose weight, cut about 500-100 calories off of your daily intake (but don’t go below 1300 kcal!).
If you want something similar that you can carry with you on your phone, I recommend UnderArmour’s MyFitnessPal. It does all the things any calorie calculator can do but it also has a massive database of food and their respective nutritional profiles to help you log everything you eat. Plus, it’s free, so why not, right?
Truthfully though, counting calories can be a pain in the buttocks sometimes, even with the help of technology. If you’re lazy like I am, leverage the apps to practice mindfully watching how much food you should be eating to lose/maintain weight. Once you’ve got that down, you can stop using the calculators and food diaries. It also helps if you’ve already established food staples (as previously mentioned).
Build more muscle
Again, it’s a simple concept: the more muscle you build, the faster your metabolism gets.
How fast, you ask?
Research says that gaining 2 kg of muscle lets you burn approximately 50 more calories per day.
Granted, I get that that’s not a lot of calories but don’t underestimate the power of stacking. After a month (30 days) of carrying additional muscle bulk, you’d have burned around 1500 calories more than if you didn’t. That’s 3 whole Zingers from KFC and perhaps a handful of fries.
Plus, building muscle requires resistance training. It doesn’t matter if you lift weights at the gym or at home, or do calisthenics at the park, the training itself burns more calories as well, helping you get to a state of negative energy balance.
Moreover, you’re going to need to eat more protein to build more muscle, carbs to keep you energized, and fat to help balance out your hormones.
Mix some appetite-suppressing foods to your day
I know, I know. I’m suggesting food options when I’m supposed to teach you how to eat whatever you want and lose weight. But hear me out.
As their name implies, appetite suppressants help keep your appetite in check which, in turn, helps you eat fewer calories. I think this is crucial because of 2 things:
- Eating whatever you want usually entails eating unhealthy food with poor nutritional value, and
- Appetite suppressants are generally healthy foods that are nutritious and light, so they help fill the gap.
That being said, these include fiber-rich food such as oatmeal, fruit, and vegetables; proteins such as eggs and tofu; and foods with high water content like soup and citrus fruit.
And while we’re on the topic of eating, here are few examples of what you can eat a lot of without feeling guilty:
Foods you can eat a lot of and not gain weight
Before we move on, know that many of these foods are natural appetite suppressants themselves. They’re light, nutritious, and therefore weight loss friendly. Have a look:
Celery is perhaps one of the most commonly used vegetables in virtually any type of weight loss diet – and that’s because it’s both light and satiating.
Per the Self NutritionData, a serving of celery only holds and about 17 kcal. This is largely because 95% of it is water. It also has nearly 2g of fiber and 40% of your daily vitamin K needs.
Spinach and kale
In terms of nutrition, both are fairly similar, too. They have very few calories because they’re around 85-90% water and have solid amounts of fiber. Moreover, just a cup of these leafy vegetables will get you more than 100% of your daily vitamin K needs and they both give you impressive amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
There are several different types of lettuce and while they do have their own distinct characteristics, I don’t believe you can go wrong if you chose one over the other.
That being said, they’re all loaded with vitamin A, C, and K which are antioxidants that help cleanse your system of harmful free radicals. Like spinach and kale, lettuce also offers solid amounts of omega-3, as well as water and fiber.
Broccoli and cauliflower
Like kale and spinach, I mostly interchange these two vegetables. I know that they have differences in flavor, color, yada, yada, yada but, hey, I try to simplify my meals as much as I can so whatever’s in the vegetable section, that’s what I get.
In any case, they’re both similarly low calorie and have high levels of fiber, solid amounts of omega-3, a decent amount of protein, and both are made up of approximately 90% water. These nutrients help minimize your appetite, thus making them both weight loss-friendly.
Boiled potatoes and sweet potatoes
A lot of people say these 2 are bad for your weight but while that does have some sense, it’s not entirely true. How you cook your potatoes and sweet potatoes matter.
According to these results from The University of Sydney, boiled sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index (GI) of only 44 but when you cook them any other way, its GI rises to moderate to high levels.
These things matter because the glycemic indexes of food determine the degree of impact they have on your blood sugar. Low GI food such as boiled sweet potatoes raises your blood sugar levels at a more controlled rate compared to moderate and high GI foods, making it a more stable source of energy.
Apples are among the staples in most weight loss kitchens for a few reasons. For one, they’re affordable and delicious. But, perhaps more importantly, they’re loaded with water and fiber which helps bring down the calorie count while keeping your hunger in check.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries… you name it!
Gram per gram, these bite-sized droplets of heaven have some of the concentrated amounts of fiber. They’re also about 85-90% water which not only makes them more satiating, it also helps bring down the calorie count.
When I think of cucumbers, I think of how juicy each bite is. Turns out that this juiciness is what makes it great for weight loss – because it’s mostly water!
Truth be told though, it isn’t particularly nutritious and fibrous (at least not compared to the other fruits on this list).
You probably shouldn’t peel these as well because a good bulk of the fruit’s vitamin K resides in the skin. For your reference, 100 g of skin-on cucumber has 16.4 mcg of vitamin K whereas 100 g of peeled cucumbers only have 7.2 mcg.
First of all, tomatoes are about 95% water and just 100 g of this fruit will give you 1.2 g of fiber and only 18 calories. Those are solid numbers for any weight loss food if you ask me.
Moreover, the number of tomato varieties are incredible! Eating salad today? Maybe throw in some cherry tomatoes in there. Oh, you’re making pizza? Italian tomatoes make for an amazing sauce! Burgers? Maybe slice up a couple of plum tomatoes.
Whatever the occasion, I truly believe there’s a tomato out there that fits right in.
Grapefruit and orange
And basically any other citrus fruit. It just so happens that grapefruit and orange are 2 of the most commonly cited examples.
That being said, grapefruits and oranges are rich in vitamin C which, according to research, is associated with lower weight because it helps you use fat as fuel during exercise.
Citrus fruits generally have high water content as well, with both grapefruits and oranges clocking in at over 85%.
Speaking of vitamin C, cantaloupes are also solid sources, providing you 61% of your daily vitamin C needs every 100 g. Moreover, they’re also a strong source of vitamin A – a nutrient that promotes both eye health and youthful skin.
Impressive water content and calorie count, too.
Yes, popcorn, but not like the ones you get at the movies. Those have way too much butter and flavoring which, yes, makes them taste amazing, but also hike up the calorie count.
That being said, if all you want is something to munch on while binge-watching your favorite crime shows on Netflix, popcorn with just a bit of salt is a great, low-calorie option.
In a nutshell, naturally skinny people start off skinny largely because they’re blessed with genetics that helps keep them that way. However, people with these gifted physiques can also gain weight over time if they don’t follow up their gifts with healthy habits.
These habits include getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating slower, and saying no to food when you feel satisfied (not full), along with a few more others. These are habits that the rest of us can emulate so we, too, can be skinny and stay skinny.
Well, that’s it for me! But, before you leave, remember that your body is beautiful regardless of whatever shape it’s in. Spread positive vibes and while you’re at it, share this with a friend, will ‘ya?