Diet plan for skinny fat is a step by step complete guide for women and men who are tired of being fat, tired of not having energy, tired of always feeling hungry, tired of not feeling good in their clothes.
WHAT DOES SKINNY FAT MEAN?
Skinny-fat is when someone is metabolically obese but has a normal weight. Skinny-fat is slang without having a medical definition of what exactly constitutes being skinny-fat. Skinny-fat people have bodies that look imbalanced. For example, you might look skinny with shorts and a t-shirt on but as soon as the clothes come off the hidden fat makes an appearance.
Skinny-fat isn’t necessarily the same thing as being overweight or fat, as these people tend to have some muscle mass to match the fat. If you hop on a scale and aren’t surprised by how much you weight but then look in the mirror and feel fat then there’s a possibility that you’re skinny-fat.
Skinny-fat men or women can have a similar body fat percentage as some who looks in shape, this is because skinny-fat is a body composition problem not necessarily a weight problem.
WHAT CAUSES SKINNY FAT?
To fix being skinny-fat you should first know the possible root problems causing you to be skinny-fat. Have a look at some of the common causes of being skinny-fat so that you can understand what changes need to be made to go from skinny-fat to fit.
- Little Muscle Mass: The lack of muscle mass means that the body doesn’t burn calories efficiently. The more muscle mass you have the more energy your body consumes even while at rest. Ask yourself when was the last time you exercised? If you had to think about that for more than a second or two then it’s been too long. Long stretches of time without exercise, specifically resistance training can lead to becoming skinny-fat. Yes, activities like yoga, hiking, cycling and jogging are healthy activities they won’t necessarily help you build muscle mass. Many people might’ve been able to get away without doing anything physically demanding in the younger years but as time passes lifestyle choices will catch up to you.
- Low Protein Intake: Eating a protein rich diet is a vital aspect to building muscle mass without fail. Without proper protein intake your muscles are unable to be repaired and rebuilt after any type of resistance training. It’s important to note that you should be eating a high protein diet of around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
- Lack of Strength Training: You need to start thinking about going to the gym or working out at home with some resistance bands, focusing on one end goal; to pack on lean muscle. The optimal method of gaining muscle mass is hypertrophy training. When hypertrophy training, the calories you consume will be used to help build muscle rather than turning into fat.
- Improper Caloric Deficit Diet: Losing weight boils down to burning more calories than you consume. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should stick to a certain protocol to help ensure you’re losing fat not muscle mass. Cutting weight with a smart methodology will lead to fat loss but if not done properly then your body might start cannibalizing muscle for energy rather than fat. You should also be aware that a long-term caloric deficit can result in your body thinking it needs to start storing food as fat to have in reserve rather than burning it as energy.
- Excess Stress: Stress is bad for our mental and physical health. Stress causes the hormone cortisol levels to rise. If you’re stressed for long periods of time the heightened cortisol levels can result in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can make us fatter by not being able to convert carbohydrates into energy. Studies like this show how heightened cortisol is correlated to added visceral fat in the abdominal area.
- Not Enough Sleep: If you’re not getting enough sleep, your waistline might start reflecting this in a negative way. Ghrelin is a hormone that tells us when we should eat while leptin is a hormone that signals us to stop eating. Without proper sleep, these two hormones can hinder our capability of losing weight. If you’re not sleeping enough, you will have less leptin and more ghrelin, equating to increased weight gain. Your body’s metabolism also slows down when you’re sleep deprived. Try to aim for 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE SKINNY FAT?
A quick look in the mirror should be a decent litmus test regarding your skinny-fat situation but if that’s not enough you can ask yourself the following questions and if a few pertain to you then you’re most likely skinny-fat:
- If you’re a man weighing around 198 pounds (average U.S man) and you can’t bench press 135 pounds(average for untrained male) then you have the “skinny” part of skinny-fat.
- If you’re a woman weighing around 170 pounds (average U.S. woman) and can’t bench press 80 pounds then you’re likely “skinny” part of skinny-fat.
- Look in the mirror and without flexing/sucking in, can you see any abs at all or does your abdominal area look like a pouch? If you can’t see your abs at all and it looks like you have a pouch in the midsection then you might be a little “fat”.
- Does your stomach stick out further than your chest but your arms don’t come close to filling out the sleeves to your shirt? If you answer yes whether you’re a woman or a man this is another sign you could get the “fat” half of skinny-fat.
- Do you eat a high carbohydrate diet while never weight training? If yes, then chances are you could be skinny-fat.
Overall, you might be a normal weight if you hop on a scale but if you have a gut and love handles and don’t have the muscular strength to lift minimal weights then you’re probably skinny-fat. Aesthetically being skinny-fat isn’t a great look but more importantly are the health downfalls of being weak and skinny coupled with the negative aspects of being overweight.
IS BEING SKINNY FAT UNHEALTHY?
Yes, being skinny-fat is unhealthy as people who too much fat in the abdominal area can have increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol, high blood pressure and vitamin deficiencies. Adding to that, skinny-fat people tend to little muscle mass from lack of exercise or poor diet. Muscle is a key component in keeping a healthy metabolism, preventing future injuries and performing daily activities.
This study looked at the risk of death of 6,400 people, divided into four categories; low muscle/low fat mass (“skinny-fat”), low muscle/high fat mass (“fat”), high muscle/high fat mass (“fit & fat”) and high muscle/low fat mass (“athletic”).
Note: With fat mass meaning total amount of fat tissue compared with body fat percentage is the amount of fat relative to the rest of the body.
As you probably could’ve guessed, the athletic group had lowest risk of death and best heart health followed by the “fit & fat”. Lagging far behind were the “skinny-fat” and “fat” groups, thus showing that muscle mass plays an important role to our health.
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.
- 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:
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
- Carbs can be stored as glycogen in muscles, meaning those calories would be less likely stored as fat
- Carbs can increase our workout performance, allowing us to cause better adaptations to build muscle
- Carbs can improve our immune system while exercising, allowing us to stay healthy and avoid catching a cold while training
- Carbs stop the breakdown of protein in your muscles during exercise and help your muscles recover
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.
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.
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)
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
3 TBSP UNPOPPED ORGANIC KERNALS, 2 TBSP GRASS-FED BUTTER, 1 TBSP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, SEA SALT
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.