I am a 5'6" tall 31M. I weigh approximately 165 lbs. My waist size is 38 inches. According to the Evolt app, my lean muscle mass is 115 lbs and my fat mass is 50 lbs. So appearance wise, I have skinny arms and legs but I carry a considerable amount of fat on my torso. My goal is to acquire a beach body. More specifically, I would like to stay 165 lbs and increase my muscle mass and decrease my fat mass. However, I am confused about whether I should eat at maintenance or if I should have a caloric deficit for achieving my body goal.

I watched Dr. Mike Israetel's video and he says skinny fat (I think I qualify as a skinny fat person) people should begin their fitness journey by eating at maintenance and exercising 3-4 times a week.

Another popular fitness influencer, Jeremy Ethier says skinny fat people with over 15% body fat are better off cutting and with such a high body fat percentage, such people are likely to gain a little muscle along with losing fat.

I do not know whose advice to follow given my current situation. Please advise.

  • Welcome to the stack a_sid, take the tour when you have moment. As written, this question isn’t a great fit for our site. We do best with specific, focused questions about a concrete problem, and this question doesn’t have much to go on. We have no way of knowing if anything some app says about your body composition is accurate, and there is simply no way know how much weight you can gain or lose. If you have a more specific question about the recomposition process, it may be on topic.
    – Thomas Markov
    Oct 22, 2023 at 6:53
  • @ThomasMarkov What additional information should I add for the question to be on-topic? My goal is to keep my body weight the same and lose 25 lbs of fat and gain 25 lbs of muscle. I am asking if this is possible for me to do concurrently without separate bulking and cutting phases.
    – a_sid
    Oct 22, 2023 at 16:21
  • 1
    @a_sid - a more suitable question would be to state specifically your goals and then ask for advice of how to reach them.
    – Ethan
    Oct 22, 2023 at 19:47
  • @Ethan thank you I shall do that.
    – a_sid
    Oct 25, 2023 at 5:44

1 Answer 1


Both strategies will probably work, but I would go with Israetel's strategy first because:

  1. Eating at maintenance calories will ensure you maintain your weight.
  2. A beginner at weight training will gain muscle mass at a relatively fast rate.
  3. Your body will lose body fat in order to maintain the weight. It won't be as fast as a cut, but it will happen.
  4. Finally, and I think this is the most important, eating at maintenance is far easier than cutting. Long-term cutting sucks for everyone regardless of who you are. It has an increased risk of binging or dropping off. I feel that for beginners, the most important thing is to remove as much adversity as possible. You may even be better off not focusing on calorie composition at all and just eating healthier foods more intuitively. This way, you can focus on learning how to train and getting better at that rather than dramatically changing your entire lifestyle.

Just understand that any strategy you choose will take a very long time to reach that "beach body" goal. So patience, learning, and commitment will always be necessary to advance.


Bonus: Dr. Mike is also far more experienced with training clients than Jeremy Ethier. So I imagine he knows which strategy has a better chance of long-term success.

  • Thank you for the response. I also heard that if you put on more muscle, you will also burn more calories. Is this true? If it is, does it not mean I have to keep eating more and more JUST to maintain my new muscle?
    – a_sid
    Oct 26, 2023 at 16:56
  • Also for reference this is what my body looks like: reddit.com/r/guessmybf/comments/143s2is/…
    – a_sid
    Oct 26, 2023 at 16:58
  • @a_sid: Yes that's technically true, but it's very little and not really worth worrying about.
    – DeeV
    Oct 26, 2023 at 17:15
  • I see. Thank you
    – a_sid
    Oct 26, 2023 at 17:17
  • Also, looking at my photos, do I look skinny fat or just fat?
    – a_sid
    Oct 26, 2023 at 17:17

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