Looking for a skinny fat diet plan that builds rock-hard muscle and sheds nasty body fat?
This article will show you how.
As we parachute down the dietary rabbit hole, our first step involves figuring out the root of your problem...
What causes Skinny fat?
As I always say...
Skinny fat is a self-inflicted condition resulting from dreadful lifestyle choices:
- Not lifting weights for muscle growth
- Doing too much cardio
- Poor sleep
- Out of whack hormones
The #1 reason behind your skinny fat physique is garbage nutrition.
Think of your grand-grandfather, a strapping young lad in the 1950s:
He worked 12 hours a day at the metal factory on six hours of sleep...
He never set foot inside a gym...
He didn't count a single calorie in his life...
Nor was he born with champion bodybuilding genetics...
Yet, he had no trouble staying lean.
Because people ate home-cooked meals instead of junk food!
Skinny fat is a recent phenomenon that has bloomed in the last 20 years.
I can still remember the vast dating opportunities when I entered my horny teenage years in the early 2000s:
80% of the girls in high school were slim. The other 20% were fat.
Skinny fat didn't exist... yet.
You had plenty of options because every dateable chick had a slim waist. So you picked the girl you wanted to date based on her face.
Compare that to what you're facing today:
She looks attractive when you first meet her in a bar wearing that eye-catching two-piece outfit, four-inch heels, and five pounds of make-up.
But when the clothes come off?
Mushy body with zero curves...
Jiggly butt propped up by spandex...
Covered in tramp stamps and sleeve tattoos that would make hardcore prisoners blush.
(Don't get me started on that last one!)
When it comes to building an attractive body that women can't keep their hands off, the average man doesn't fare any better:
Skinny noodle arms...
Droopy man boobs...
Horrible hunched over posture resulting from staring at screens all day...
A disgusting beer gut as if you’re expecting Junior to pop out soon...
Although you're only 21 and never drink alcohol!
So what's causing both men and women to look like absolute garbage?
I blame it on two major worldwide shifts over the last two decades:
1. fast food joints in every corner of the globe
Besides Finland, my home country, I have spent longer spells living in the USA, Thailand, Indonesia, Germany, and Turkey in the past ten years.
As diverse as these cultures are, one thing remains common across the board:
McDonald's, Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut, and their ilk dominate the landscape.
From Bali to Berlin...
From Pattaya to Philadelphia...
There's a junk food joint within walking distance.
Feeling too lazy to walk over?
Click three buttons... Uber Eats or Food Panda will deliver right to your door in 30 minutes.
Not only that, your super market dedicates entire aisles to candy, chips, cookies, chocolate, and other processed foods.
It's too cheap and convenient to stuff your face with crap these days.
2. from manual work to office slavery
The internet killed physical labor in the West.
While manufacturing jobs got outsourced to China or Vietnam, Westerners took on cushy office jobs where they pretend to be busy creating PowerPoints and compiling Excel reports.
Together with those jobs, physical activity dropped to zero.
Unless you work in construction, you're staring at a screen 10+ hours per day.
That's more time than you spend in bed!
Now that you know what causes skinny fat, let's zoom in on how to beat it through solid nutrition.
I get this question from many guys who want to create a muscular physique:
"Should I Eat More If I'm Skinny Fat?"
It depends on several factors... including your age, current body fat percentage, and metabolism.
Contrary to common advice, most skinny fat men should CUT first instead of bulking.
1. You're over 5 kilograms (10+ pounds) underweight
What will happen if you try to get lean weighing 65 kg at 175 cm tall (143 pounds at 5'8")?
Bulk up until you reach a normal weight, then go into fat loss mode.
2. You're young and physically active with a high calorie expenditure
My early-20s hockey athletes burn 4000+ calories in a day thanks to a lightning-fast metabolism and training on the ice 8-10 times per week.
So during a body recomp, I have them eat 3500-4000+ calories to pack on lean mass while shedding body fat.
But if you're a typical pudge-bellied office rat with string bean arms and the metabolism of a mummy, eating 3000+ calories per day thinking you will build muscle is sheer fantasy...
You will only get fatter.
So ask yourself two questions:
Are you a competitive athlete under 25 years?
Are you 10+ pounds lighter than what a healthy, athletic man of your height should weigh?
No and no?
Then you should eat less, not more.
Creating Your Skinny Fat Diet Plan
Most people skip this part, thinking such a basic activity as counting calories is somehow beneath them.
But it will make or break your diet.
So sit down, put pen to paper, and do some basic math.
Let's start with the most important factor – calorie intake.
Later, you'll discover exact fat loss and muscle building meal plans you can swipe.
How Many Calories Should A Skinny Fat Person Eat?
Like we just talked about, most skinny fat guys should get lean first.
For that, you must reach a calorie deficit.
You eat fewer calories than you burn.
Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it with 10-12.
You weigh 180 pounds (82 kilograms).
- 180 x 10 = 1800 kcal
- 180 x 12 = 2160 kcal
We'll round that second figure up to 2200 kcal just to make things easier. Now our effective fat loss calorie range spans from 1800 to 2200 per day.
I prefer to start clients at the high end of that range.
While a difference of 400 calories doesn't sound much (for reference, a large Big Mac Meal contains 1320 calories), it's an extra meal of lean meat and green vegetables you get to enjoy.
Why should this matter?
Because slashing calories too much, too soon will throw your fat loss plan off track.
Hunger plays tricks on us all. As soon as you get cravings, you'll throw all caution to the wind and go on a spree of Domino's Pizza, apple strudel, and Ben & Jerry's irresistible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.
Three weeks of progress... gone in one out-of-control weekend.
Now you're back to square one.
Ask me how I know!
Keeping hunger at bay goes a long way in your sticking with your diet.
That's why it's crucial to start at a sustainable calorie level that keeps you full.
If you lose fat at 2200, great. We have more leeway to reduce calories once fat loss stalls (like it always does) several weeks into a diet.
If your weight and waist measurements don't budge at 2200 calories, bring it down to 2000 as you track what happens over the next 1-2 weeks.
Still no change?
Now drop to 1800. You should finally see numbers decrease.
Remember that while the "body weight multiplied by 10-12" formula puts you in the right ballpark more often than not, it's still an estimate.
The only way you can make accurate diet decisions is to stick to your calorie target and track changes in body weight and measurements every week.
Only then will you have valid, objective data to work with.
With our calorie target set, let's talk about the three macronutrients:
Protein, carbohydrates, and fat...
And how to inject them into your meals after setting your calorie target.
The building block of muscle growth and repair, many skinny fat guys don't eat enough protein to meet their daily needs.
When they first come to me, some clients eat between 90 and 120 grams of protein per day.
That's before I set them straight!
I give them two simple guidelines to follow:
Aim for 2 grams per kilogram of body weight.
And make sure every meal includes a quality protein source.
So if you weigh 85 kilograms now, your protein floor should be around 170 grams per day.
Quality protein sources include:
Many kids who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s were brought up on the USDA Food Pyramid:
Your parents piled on the bread, rice, pasta, and cereal on your plate...
Brainwashing you (just like the food industry had brainwashed them) how grains – especially whole grains – were an essential part of a "healthy" diet.
To this day, nobody has explained how sugar-coated Kellogg's promote health...
But the higher-ups said so. Must be true! We dare not question their advice!
If eleven servings of grains weren't enough to put you in a carb coma, you spent your measly $5 allowance on candy bars, relishing the inevitable sugar rush that followed.
How do I know all this?
Because I used to be that kid!
Growing up, a typical day contained Rice Krispies for breakfast, three main meals filled with rice/pasta/potatoes, and 6-10 loaves of bread.
On top of that, I ate candy, ice cream, or pastries 2-3 times per week.
I was SWIMMING in sugary carbs 24/7/365...
No wonder I never saw a full row of abs as a teenager!
The worst part?
I still hung on to these same horrible eating habits learned during childhood when entering college.
Breakfast in my freshman year?
Orange juice straight from the shelves of the supermarket...
Rustic Italian ciabatta with two slices of ham and cheese...
And a large bowl of Tony the Tiger soaked in milk.
I was still eating like a five-year-old at 20!
It wasn't until I upgraded my fitness knowledge that I questioned some of the nutrition lies presented to us as "truths".
Many adults go through their entire lives oblivious to how their bad eating patterns drive lardassery and disease.
They overeat sugary slop, get fat, develop diabetes...
Yet can't figure out the cause.
While you probably aren't at the diabetes stage (yet), you're reading this article because you're skinny fat.
And the reason you're skinny fat is that you, too, eat like a five-year-old.
Just admit it and make a conscious decision to fix your diet.
Stop bathing in sugary carbs!
Unless I'm dealing with a young athlete (as explained earlier), I cut out ALL starchy carbs from a skinny fat diet.
Once a skinny-fat client gets lean enough (visible abs), his body can handle carbs better. So we reintroduce some starches back in.
But for now, your carb sources will include nothing but fruits, berries, and vegetables.
That means you'll replace pasta with pears, plums and peaches...
Bread turns into bananas, bell peppers and blueberries...
And you'll eat radish, red cabbage and Roma tomatoes instead of rice.
While skinny fat dudes love to munch on sugary carbs, they have an irrational fear of fat.
Since they impact brain function, hormone balance, and skin and eye health, healthy fats are an irreplaceable part of your diet.
Quality fat sources include:
Based on meticulous food journal tracking with dozens of clients over the years, I have found that most men don't consume enough dietary fat.
Some eat as little as 30-40 grams per day before my intervention.
Your brain function will suffer and your testosterone levels plummet if you go so low!
So how much fat is optimal?
Around 1 gram per kg of body weight works as a good starting point.
Many of my clients eat over 100 grams per day now.
If that sounds like too much fat to you, you're still buying into the fear-mongering spewed by the talking heads on mainstream media...
Eating fat does not make you fat!
Besides, after setting protein at 2g/kg and cutting out starches (which eliminates a sizeable chunk of the carbs you'd normally consume), the missing calories to reach your daily target must come from somewhere.
Increasing your fat intake helps you get there without pounding down 300 grams of protein or a boatload of bananas.
Skinny Fat Diet for fat loss
Despite all the claims to the contrary, meal frequency doesn't matter for fat loss.
Which should come as a relief to health-conscious 9-5ers...
Your colleagues will no longer dub you the Tupperware-carrying weirdo who busts out a six-piece container filled with chicken breast, brown rice, and steamed broccoli every three hours!
Most people with regular jobs do best eating 2-3 hot meals a day with 1-2 snacks in between.
Since I don't have a job that ties me to a desk, I can cook as often as I want.
So I eat 3-4 hot meals each day. Zero snacks.
To keep things simple here, I'll lay out one of my go-to meal plans.
This way, you'll see the exact foods I shovel down – including a breakdown of total calories and macros – when I'm getting lean.
- Meal #1: 6 eggs, tomato, bell pepper, spinach, banana, blueberries
- Meal #2: 250g chicken breast, peach, plum, grapes, cabbage
- Meal #3: 6 eggs, tomato, bell pepper, spinach, banana, blueberries
- Meal #4: 200g ground beef, peach, plum, grapes, cabbage
- Total: 2220 kcal. 180g protein. 114g carbs. 116g fat.
Rather than think of this as a rigid recipe, use it as a template to model. Change whatever needs changing to make it work in your situation.
Skinny Fat Diet for muscle gain
The name of the game for muscle gain?
Instead of a calorie deficit, you must create a calorie surplus.
When transitioning from a fat loss phase to a lean bulk, slowly bump your calories up.
Don't go from 1800 to 3000 kcal in the blink of an eye.
Add ~250 calories per day while still monitoring what happens to your weight and body measurements every week. At first, they may plateau or even go down.
Eat an extra 200-300 kcal a day, check weight and waist after seven days, repeat until the scale budges.
To reach a higher calorie target, you must add some starches. Otherwise, you'll struggle to wolf down enough calories from protein and fat alone to hit your daily goal.
Thanks to its digestibility and taste, jasmine rice is my favorite post-workout carb.
Another high-calorie food source that goes down without a hiccup?
Nuts – cashews, almonds, pistachios, etc.
Once your daily goal exceeds ~3500 calories – which only applies to young dudes with a humming metabolism – eating becomes a chore.
I tell my younger athletes to treat it like a full-time job. You must force feed yourself to gain muscle.
It's not fun...
But when has a J-O-B ever been fun?
To make things more palatable, use this simple trick:
Whip up 1-2 delicious protein + fruit shakes for an extra 500-1000 calories a day.
Even when you're feeling stuffed, you can always drink another meal.
That said, here's our previous fat loss meal plan tweaked for a 3500 kcal mass gain phase...
- Meal #1: 6 eggs, tomato, bell pepper, spinach
- Snack #1: 500g Greek yoghurt, 50g cashews, banana, blueberries
- Meal #2: 250g chicken breast, peach, plum, grapes, cabbage
- Meal #3: 250g turkey, 50g jasmine rice, tomato, bell pepper, spinach, banana, blueberries
- Snack #2: Protein shake (30g whey protein, 50g oats, kiwi, mango, banana)
- Meal #4: 250g ground beef, 50g jasmine rice, peach, plum, grapes, cabbage
- Total: 3560 kcal. 294g protein. 326g carbs. 121g fat.
That is a LOT of food...
Nobody said this building muscle thing would be easy!
Every guy thinks lifting weights is the most important factor for gaining muscle.
They are wrong.
Having worked with countless skinny-fat men over the past 10+ years, I'm convinced:
How you look outside reflects what you put inside.
Skinny fat dudes mess up nutrition 100% of the time.
That's why you are skinny fat.