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Hi, I have a question. How should “skinny fats” eat, considering if you play soccer as well for exercise? I want to gain strength and muscle, but also lose my fat. –Hugh G.



Great question, Hugh! Many people with normal weight or thin shape struggle with being under muscled while having visible fat. It is best to tackle your two beasts separately, as they are distinct processes. The diet approach for both muscle gain and fat loss, however, consists of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats and must be paired with the appropriate exercise.

Not having enough muscle for strength is a concern for daily demands, as well as for sports. This is more common than people realize. There are even terms for having little muscle: ectomorphic (the body shape characterized by little muscle and fat) and sarcopenia (muscle atrophy). Whatever you call it, it’s necessary to add lean tissue if you want to trim the fat.

Start with building muscle, which will support a greater metabolism to burn fat later. A diet for gaining strength means eating more calories than you burn to feed growing muscle tissue. Think of dense foods that have substance, not just grease. Go for beef, lamb, pork, eggs, potatoes, oatmeal, tortillas, pasta, starchy vegetables (like corn, peas and winter squash), juice, granola, dried fruits, nuts/seeds and Greek yogurt. Team these efforts with resistance training (weight-bearing exercise) and you’ve got the perfect equation for building muscle.

Also, check out our article on Building Muscle.



Next, tackle losing the flab. A diet for burning fat means eating less than you burn to promote the use of body fat for fuel. To achieve this, scale back portions, omit alcohol and sweets, and select lower calorie foods. Choose vitamin-rich light foods like chicken, turkey, fish, beans, bran, fresh fruits, leafy or watery vegetables and nonfat milk. Use these to fuel aerobic exercise (sustained repetitive motion) and you’re on your way to the definition you desire.

Read this answer that I answered previously about how to get Defined and Noticeable Muscles:


– Debbie J., MS, RD

Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition?

Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below. To learn how to follow the “Ask Our Dietitian” Q&A CLICK HERE!

Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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