What should a skinny-fat person eat?

Skinny Fat Diet Plan For Men

The skinny-fat body is shaped by simultaneously having low levels of muscle mass (skinny) and having high levels of body fat—particularly stubborn belly-fat. So what should a skinny-fat guy eat?

Beginner Steps For a Skinny-Fat Guy

In our skinny-fat: bulk or cut article, we argued that a skinny-fat guy should aim to both buid muscle and burn fat at the same time. This is often called body recomposition, and to do this requires a few things:

  • Eating a calorie deficit. This means eating less energy than you burn, causing fat storage to be burned to provide energy.
  • Eating a high-protein diet. This is because high-protein is needed to build new muscle (above and beyond our daily protein needs) and tendon strength, and for whatever reason, the biological process of muscle-protein synthesis (adding protein to muscles) deeply falls during a calorie deficit. So we’ll need to eat even more protein to offset being both less efficient with protein and to build new muscle (despite being in a calorie deficit.)
  • Doing resistance training, like lifting weights. Muscle mass is at risk of shrinking when in a calorie deficit, and skinny-fat people are looking to get leaner and stronger, not leaner and weaker. Resistance training is the best way to protect against muscle loss in a calorie deficit, and with enough protein (and good sleep, hormones, etc.), you can even build muscle while getting leaner. (See skinny-fat workout.)
  • Doing daily walks outdoors. Many skinny-fat people are sedentary (under 7,500 steps a day), and this contributes to building stubborn belly fat. This type of fat is not a normal fat storage pattern and is best burnt through aerobic work and limiting inflammation. We can build up your aerobic foundation by aiming to hit 7,500 steps a day. Do the steps outdoors (without sunscreen or sunglasses) to reap the benefits of nitric oxide, POMC (pre-cursor to many hormones, higher magnesium levels, and vitamin D, which is correlated with testosterone.) Plus, sunshine will help improve your sleep, aiding your body as it cleans up and burns fat and builds muscle.
  • Limiting inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to stubborn belly fat and the inability to build muscle despite lifting weights (called a non-responder.) Simple ways to reduce inflammation include sleeping at least 7 hours each night, drinking clean water, avoiding fluoridated water, getting daily sunshine, and avoiding foods that irritate your digestion.

So be sure to take a deeper look at the other factors. Now, let’s take a look at the specifics of diet and nutrition for a skinny fat guy.

What should a skinny-fat Male eat?

1. High-Protein-To-Energy Ratio Foods

Foods that contain the most protein with the smallest amount of energy will naturally shift you into fat-burning and muscle-building mode—even without tracking calories. This is because protein builds muscle, it’s incredibly filling, and is very difficult for protein to be chemically converted into glucose (and then into fat.) A surplus of protein is mostly burnt off as body heat. The top foods are:

  • Wild seafood like fish.
    • Salmon, cod, mackerel, sardines, trout, etc.
  • Pasture-raised ruminant meat
    • beef, lamb, goat, reindeer
  • To a lesser degree, other meats with a less optimal diet such as chicken and turkey
  • Meat stock / bone broth / roasted bone marrow
  • Collagen peptide powder
  • Vegetables like roasted asparagus, carrots, squash, etc. (these don’t have a lot of objective amounts of protein, but because they contain so little calories, the protein-to-energy-ratio is still high.)

Great options that have a lower  protein-to-energy ratio include raw dairy and eggs.

2. Whole Foods That Are Minimally Processed

Whole foods that are cooked at home still have their fibre, water content, and need to be chewed more. This all helps with feeling full (satiety) prevents the overeating of energy. For example, eating grapes will fill you up more than eating raisins. Eating a piece of sourdough whole grain bread will fill you up more than eating cake.

Plus, whole foods will contain more nutrients and make you feel better. When you have more energy, you are more likely to go for your walks and do your lifting sessions. You can also eat some of the “true” superfoods like grass-fed beef liver, kidney, and sweetbreads for tons of nutrients.

Lastly, you should aim to eat foods that you prepare yourself aren’t full of additives, preservatives, and rancid industrial oils. These bad stubborn-fat -building ingredients are found in restaurants, fast-food, and boxed foods. It is best to do one day of food prep a week, such as on Sunday. Cook a large chili or picadillo, 8–12 portions, and eat one portion for dinner and freeze the rest.

When you eat better, your hormones work better, you feel better, you move more—and you finally become stronger and leaner.

3. Don’t Overly Restrict Wholesome Carbs (Or Fats)

Carbs have often been demonized as being “unnecessary.” This is because protein can be synthesized by the body into glucose. But that process is incredibly hard on the body, which is why we crave carbohydrates. They can be a great source of fibre, micronutrients, and vitamins. Plus, carbs can:

  • Carbs increase testosterone and lower cortisol (study)
  • Carbs can be stored as glycogen in muscles, meaning those calories would be less likely stored as fat (study)
  • Carbs can increase our workout performance, allowing us to cause better adaptations to build muscle (studystudy)
  • Carbs can improve our immune system while exercising, allowing us to stay healthy and avoid catching a cold while training (study)
  • Carbs stop the breakdown of protein in your muscles during exercise and help your muscles recover (study)

Does that mean we have licence to overdo it with poor-sources of carbs? No. 

And does that mean that we should be drinking mass-gainer shakes full of processed carbs? No.

There are two discussions around carbs. How industrially processed is the source of carb? The second is what is your state of gut health? Some people have lower stomach acid and will have a harder time digesting some types of carbs. That will help carbs unhealthy for them. They will need to rectify the cause of their disrupted gut health.

Even if someone’s gut health is disturbed, there is one carb that reigns supreme.

Raw honey.

Most skinny-fat men suffer from low testosterone, and raw honey is one way of naturally increasing testosterone (2019 study) and can improve our health markers (2020 study). It is being studied for the paradoxical findings that raw honey, while containing sugar, is anti-diabetic. (2012) Anything anti-diabetic will help to improve muscle-building and fat-loss effects.

Eating a high protein-to-energy diet will help shift you into fat-burning mode, but don’t be scared of eating high-quality carbs and fats in the right amounts.

Wholesome carbs could be things like:

  1. Raw Honey
  2. Baked fruit like apples, pears, peaches, etc.
  3. Other types of ripe fruits like bananas, mangoes, etc.
  4. Berries
  5. White rice (or sprouted brown rice)

What shouldn’t a skinny-fat male eat?

1. Limit High Energy-To-Protein Ratio Foods

These are foods that have next to little protein and are very energy-dense. The most common examples are:

  • Industrial cooking oils (soybean, corn oil, canola oil, safflower oil, etc.)
  • Boxed and pastuerized juice
  • White flour that includes elemental iron, which feeds bad gut bacteria (99% of bread, buns, pizza, muffins, croissants)
  • Soda pop—even calorie-free (contains toxic levels of fluoride which damages the thyroid and other organs, artificial sweeteners may not be good for gut health, and even carbonation may lead to gut-disrupting effects.)
  • Processed table sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup

2. Limit Fat/Carb Combos

This is technically covered in the first point, by having next to no protein in it, with lots of energy. But when combining fats and carbs, they become much more potent.

For example, it’s hard to overeat a tablespoon of table sugar (sugar) or a stick of butter (fats) on its own. But if you combine butter, sugar, and white flour, now it’s incredibly delicious (cookies, cakes, etc.).

Incredibly delicious despite the fact that there is little to no protein (still skinny) and next to no effect on our appetite (leading to overeating) and little nutrients for health that requires robbing our stores of minerals/vitamins from our organs (leading to us feeling crummy.)

3. Limit Liquid Calories

Chewing more is one way to prevent overeating. So drinking your calories is almost a surefire way to take in more calories.

Plus, most drinks are heavily processed.

Beer and wine might be included in a healthy diet at a low dose, but often many people can’t cap it at one drink. This can add calories without any protein or impacting fullness. Plus, many wines have added sulfates that can burn out copper in your body, making it harder to burn fat. Limit beer and wine and other types of hard alcohols for now. You can slowly reintroduce them later once you’re happy with your level of fitness.

Pasteurized and boxed juice is processed and many of the vitamins are cooked out. This is why they re-add the vitamin C, you’ll see it on the ingredients, but this is a fake vitamin C made out of mold in a lab and is not healthy.

4. Avoid Industrially Processed Foods

Processed foods use low-quality ingredients that are more likely to be stored as stubborn belly-fat such as industrially processed vegetable oils and trans-fats. They lack the nutrients necessary for good gut health and feeling well.

Because they’re already “pre-digested” the calories inside them are much more bioavailable, meaning your body can get all the energy out of them—making it easier for your body to overconsume calories.

On top of that, many boxed foods have preservatives, additives, emulsifiers, etc. In a 2019 review on additives in foods, researchers proposed why additives may be so bad for our health. When consumed daily at low levels, these food additives cause:

  • alterations to the gut microbiota
  • disrupt the intestinal mucosal barrier
  • contribute to increased permeability of the intestinal layer
  • promote the increased translocation of bacteria from the gut to the bloodstream. 

Those four mechanisms contribute to low-grade chronic inflammation. This inflammation causes blood sugar regulation issues leading to the inability to gain muscle and the layering on of stubborn fat.

Meat and veggies has a very high protein-to-energy ratio—making it easy to naturally fall into a calorie deficit with lots of protein
Meat and veggies has a very high protein-to-energy ratio—making it easy to naturally fall into a calorie deficit with lots of protein

When should a skinny-fat Man eat?

1. Eat their biggest meals after lifting weights

Timing your meals can improve nutrient partitioning—which is what your body does with the calories. Does it use those calories to help build muscle, or does it get stored for later use as fat? Eat a little bit beyond fullness right after lifting weights, and then after eating a couple of meals, pull back on the calories a bit and only eat to satisfaction.

2. Foods eaten in the dark have a bigger chance of being stored as body fat due to circadian changes

You may want to limit food after it’s dark outside or keep late-night snacking to an occasional treat (say, Friday and Saturday nights.) This might because at night, we have a slower metabolism due to lack of movement, or it could be because of mismatching calories and night-time hormones. We don’t know why.

For example, once the set sets and it’s dark outside, our body would normally gear into clean-up mode—starting with the melatonin hormone. But if we’re still eating food, it may not be handled the best. For example, in a 2017 study, researchers found that those who ate a snack at 11 pm compared to 7 pm gained more fat, raised insulin and cholesterol levels, and prevented fat-burning from happening.

3. Eating in a smaller window of time to get into a calorie deficit without trying

The most common form of time-restricted eating is known as 16:8 intermittent fasting, where you eat inside an 8-hour window and fast for the other 16 hours. Typically, people eat from 12:00 pm to 8 pm, giving you a large lunch, a large dinner, and a pre-bed snack.

One downside of intermittent fasting is that it doesn’t work well for everyone—some people become shaky or incredibly irritated. Plus, it removes one window of muscle-protein synthesis, lowering our body’s efficiency processing protein. This inefficiency may subtly shift the need for protein slightly higher.

Lastly, intermittent fasting eating doesn’t fix the problem of eating a bad diet. It may help you to burn fat by limiting calories, but now you aren’t eating as many vitamins and minerals. This may make the problem of stubborn fat worse in the future. Don’t use intermittent fasting as a crutch to hold onto your poor diet.

Sample Skinny Fat Diet Plan For A Man

I am not the biggest fan of meal plans because it assumes we all have the same gut health, and identical ingredients and are measuring things perfectly with a weigh scale. But I know there is some power in seeing exactly what others are doing, especially when it comes to inspiration.

Example Meal Plan For A 165-Pound Skinny-Fat Male

  • Estimated 2,200 maintenance calories
  • Workout Days: 2600 calories (188g protein, 92g fats, 254g carbs)
  • Rest Days: 1800 calories (134g protein, 116 fats, 58g carbs)

Workout Day Skinny-Fat Nutrition

Breakfast—Post-Workout Smoothie

  • 2 raw eggs
  • 20g collagen peptides
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup almond milk (or water or raw dairy)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (if you have good gut health)
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder (if you have good gut health)
  • 1 tbsp raw honey

Lunch—Reheated Dinner—Chicken Kabobs

  • Chicken breast
  • Onions
  • Red bell pepper
  • Green bell pepper
  • Marinade

Dinner—Grass-Fed Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Choice of Cooked Greens

  • 8oz steak
  • 2 cups of mashed potatoes with 1 tbsp grass-fed beef tallow
  • Your choice of cooked greens (asparagus, dandelion greens, etc.)

Snack—Organic Homemade Poporn

  • 3 tbsp unpopped organic kernals
  • 2 tbsp grass-fed beef tallow
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

Rest Day Skinny-Fat Nutrition

Breakfast—Egg Scramble, Bacon, Collagen Peptides

  • 4 Pasture-Raised Eggs
  • Grass-fed beef tallow
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Garlic
  • 3 Strips of nitrate-free bacon
  • 20g of collagen peptides mixed into hot water

Lunch—Reheated Dinner—Steak Strips with Roasted Asparagus

  • 4oz steak
  • 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of cooked asparagus

Dinner—Chicken Wings & Veggies

  • 10 chicken wings
  • 1 tbsp of raw honey (add garlic or hot sauce if you want)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 celery stalks

Snack—Your Choice—Fit Into Calories

  • Small amount of potato chips (ideally made with avocado oil)
  • 70% dark chocolate
  • Fresh berries or fruit (apples, mangoes)
  • Organic dried fruit (organic means they can’t use sulfates)

This meal plan was designed for someone who wanted to cook a lot to keep their meals fresh and interesting. There are many ways to make a meal plan simpler if you’re willing to eat the same foods often. For example, you can cook a large batch of chili or picadillo, 16 servings at once, and you’ll have dinner ready and lunches for weeks. It can be reheated very simply with no prep or clean-up.


When combining working out, walking outdoors, some lifestyle changes, and diet—a skinny-fat physique can be overhauled incredibly quickly. When it comes down to what to eat:

  • What should a skinny-fat person eat?
    • Eat high protein-to-energy ratio foods like fish, meat, protein powders, and vegetables. (Eggs and raw dairy are still great options even though they’re a bit more energy-dense.)
    • Eat whole, unprocessed foods that you cook yourself at home. This solves many issues, such as avoiding low quality and industrially produced ingredients more likely to be stored as stubborn belly fat. Real food has more fibre, water, vitamins, and minerals—allowing your body to operate it’s best.
  • What should a skinny-fat person avoid?
    • Limit high energy-to-protein ratio foods like cooking oils, refined sugar and refined flour, juice, etc.
    • Limit (delicious) fat and carb combos. Like muffins, croissants, cookies, etc. as they’re incredibly easy to overeat as they taste great and don’t affect fullness.
    • Limit liquid calories. Like smoothies, beer and wine, and cream/sugar to the coffee. Calories that we drink don’t affect our appetite the same way that chewing them would.
    • Avoid industrially processed foods. These foods are not just low quality (empty in terms of nutritiousness), but many of them contribute to stubborn belly-fat (vegetable oils, industrial trans-fats, etc.)
  • When should a skinny-fat person eat?
    • Eat your biggest meals before and after resistance training. This will help with nutrient partitioning—making it more likely your calories are put to work instead of stored as fat. (Working out more often will also help with this.)
    • Try having lots of protein before and after a workout to minimize muscle-protein breakdown during a workout, and maximize recovery afterwards. Using protein powder can help with this. 
    • Try eating more of your food earlier in the day and limiting food after sundown. This would help coordinate your food intake to your body’s circadian rhythm—making fat storage less likely and fat-burning more likely.
    • Try experimenting with time-restricted eating for a simple way of getting into a calorie deficit. The most popular way is 16:8 intermittent fasting, where you eat for an 8-hour window each day. (May also subtly improve nutrient partitioning by not eating when you’re inactive improving fat-burning, and eating before and after a workout for best workout performance and recovery.)
Skinny Fat Workout

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