What should a skinny-fat person eat?

Skinny Fat Diet Plan: What Should A Skinny Fat Male Eat?

The skinny-fat body is shaped by simultaneously having low levels of muscle mass (skinny) and having high levels of body fat.

In our skinny-fat: bulk or cut article, we argued that a skinny-fat guy should aim to both build 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 movement and aerobic work. 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.

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 male.


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
  • Meat like beef, chicken, pork, etc. (pasture-raised with a proper diet for the animal will results in healthier, tastier, and leaner meat)
  • Bone broth / bone marrow
  • Gelatin / Collagen Supplements
  • Vegetables (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 very good.)

Great options that have a lower ratio include:

  • Eggs
  • Tofu

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. Plus, whole foods will contain more nutrients and make you feel better. Lastly, foods that you prepare yourself aren’t full of additives, preservatives, and rancid industrial oils. These ingredients that are found in restaurants, fast-food, and boxed foods, are being studied and they’re increasingly being found as a cause of stubborn belly fat (metabolic dysfunction.)

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 into glucose. But that doesn’t mean that carbohydrates are useless. 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 carbs? No. 

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

But we need to understand that unprocessed carbs and processed carbs is where the battle lies.

Raw unpasteurized honey is not the same as high-fructose corn syrup.

For example, a lot of skinny-fat men suffer from low testosterone, and honey is one way of naturally increasing testosterone (2019 study) and can improve our health markers (2020 study).

High protein to energy 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:

  • All types of Potatoes
  • Raw Honey
  • Sprouted/Soaked Brown Rice
  • All types of Fruit
  • All types of Berries
  • Green Peas

What shouldn’t a skinny-fat person 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, Pastuerized Juice
  • Processed white flour (bread, buns, pizza, muffins, crossisants)
  • 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 table sugar or a stick of butter 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.

Pastuerized and boxed juice is quite 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 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 fibre and 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, thee 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 give us low-grade chronic inflammation. This inflammation causes blood sugar issues and an increased risk for all sorts of issues.

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 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 after the sun has set 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.

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.

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. Making your window include the early morning may work best (eating breakfast and lunch) when it comes to our circadian rhythms (less stored as fat), but it becomes a challenge when living a social life that typically gathers for evening meals.

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. 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

BREAKFAST—POST-WORKOUT SMOOTHIE
2 RAW EGGS, 20G COLLAGEN PEPTIDES, 2 BANANAS, 1 CUP ALMOND MILK, 1 TBSP ALMOND BUTTER
1 TBSP CACAO POWDER, 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, 1 TBSP BUTTER

SNACK—ORGANIC POPCORN
3 TBSP UNPOPPED ORGANIC KERNALS, 2 TBSP GRASS-FED BUTTER, 1 TBSP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, SEA SALT

REST DAY

BREAKFAST—SPINACH MUSHROOM EGG SCRAMBLE, NITRATE-FREE BACON, COLLAGEN PEPTIDES
4 EGGS, BUTTER, MUSHROOMS, SPINACH, GARLIC, 3 STRIPS OF BACON, 20G COLLAGEN PEPTIDES W/ HOT WATER

LUNCH—REHEATED DINNER—STEAK STRIPS WITH ROASTED ASPARAGUS
4OZ STEAK, 1 TBSP OLIVE OIL, 1 CUP OF COOKED ASPARAGUS

DINNER—CHICKEN WINGS & VEGGIES
10 CHICKEN WINGS, TABLESPOON HONEY, HOT SAUCE, 2 MEDIUM RAW CARROTS, 2 CELERY STALKS

LUNCH—TRAIL MIX—NUTS WITH DARK CHOCOLATE +  FRESH BERRIES
1/3 CUP OF PRANA KILIMANJARO MIX

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, 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.


Summary

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 tofu 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 subtle 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.)
The Skinny Fat Fix

3 thoughts on “Skinny Fat Diet Plan: What Should A Skinny Fat Male Eat?”

  1. Pingback: Skinny fat women — Outlive

  2. Nutrient dense food , for example lean meat a carb such as rice ,quinoa, any potatoes, greens for fibre and some fats like olive oil or avacado or even nuts and some fruits and dairy for deserts then on set days example a heavy work out day some healthy sweet treats like dark chocolate healthy protein bar some low sugar ice cream?? May be

    1. Good post Joe. I am less fond of white rice as it’s missing some B-vitamins from the processing. I like sprouted brown rice. Potatoes are a favourite as well.

      Olive oil, avocado, and nuts are all healthy. But they’re also added calories. So I see a place for them in a healthy maintenance diet, but some people may want to try less cooking oil when trying to burn fat, and opt for something with less calories as a snack/side like potatoes, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit, berries, etc.

      I am a big fan of dark chocolate as well. Not sure what low sugar ice cream is. Sounds like it works for you, which is great. For myself, when I’m trying to burn off fat, I find it easier just to avoid the more junk-type foods and satisfy my cravings for sweetness in another, healthier way.

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