I want to build muscle and lose belly fat. A nutritionist said to eat more protein and snacks.

Toast and fruit
Eddie has toast and fruit for breakfast.Getty
  • A 21-year-old man submitted an average day of eating to be reviewed for Insider's Nutrition Clinic.

  • He told Insider his goals are to gain muscle and lose belly fat.

  • A nutritionist recommends eating more snacks and upping his protein intake.

  • If you'd like to have your diet reviewed by an expert, fill out this form.

  • The advice in this article isn't a substitute for a professional medical diagnosis or treatment.

Eddie, 21, submitted his eating routine for Insider's Nutrition Clinic, where qualified dietitians and registered nutritionists offer advice on readers' eating habits.

He told Insider his goals are muscle gain and abdominal fat loss, but he said he knows spot fat reduction isn't possible.

He also said he does "light to moderate exercise (brisk walking) and moderate weightlifting 3-4 times a week for an hour each time."

Georgia Head, a registered nutritionist at Fresh Fitness Food, told Insider that losing fat while building muscle was tricky but not impossible, especially if you are new to training — the key is eating enough protein, not dropping your calories too low, and following a challenging, progressive, resistance training plan, she said.

"Where we store and lose body fat is mostly determined by genetics and hormones," Head said. "The only way to reduce body fat on your stomach is by reducing overall body fat and so this is something to take into account."

Eddie has fruit and toast for breakfast

Eddie starts the day with a bowl of fruit such as papaya, banana, apple, pear, or melon, and two slices of brown bread topped with honey and peanut butter, or avocado, or a fried egg.

Head said it's great that Eddie eats lots of varied fruits and vegetables and mainly whole foods.

"Processed foods often aren't as nutritious and can contain too much salt and sugar, meaning they should be kept to a minimum," she said.

However, if Eddie trains later in the day, Head said he might benefit from eating a smaller breakfast and spreading his energy intake more evenly across the course of the day.

"This will help him avoid any energy slumps and also ensure he can get the most out of his training," she said.

Eddie could benefit from more protein and healthy fats at lunch

For lunch, Eddie said he eats white rice and baked beans with mixed vegetables.

Head said he should try to eat more protein both to boost satiety and help with muscle gain.

Rice with beans and chicken.
Head recommends adding more protein and fiber to meals.Getty

She recommends adding lean sources like chicken, turkey, white fish, salmon, and eggs, as well as plant-based alternatives such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas.

Adding more healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, salmon, or avocado, to his meals would also help with exercise recovery because of their anti-inflammatory properties, Head said.

"Reducing inflammation is important when performing at your peak, as it helps reduce muscle soreness post-training (the dreaded DOMS), allowing you to recover more quickly," she said.

Eddie has pasta or potatoes for dinner

Eddie's dinners are often pasta with corned beef and mixed vegetables, or baked potatoes with stew and mixed vegetables, he said.

While he is getting some fiber in his meals, Head said he could work to increase his intake over time to help boost his digestive health and stabilize blood sugar levels.

"Fiber can improve weight maintenance by helping with feelings of satiety and has even been said to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer," she said.

Small tweaks could be choosing wholemeal bread, whole grain pasta, or brown rice, adding lentils to stews, and eating the skin on vegetables and fruit.

Add snacks to fuel your fitness

Head said eating smaller meals and adding snacks into Eddie's diet might help boost his workout performance but he should give himself one to two hours to digest food before training.

It's important to refuel adequately after a workout by consuming a snack or meal containing protein, carbs, and healthy fats.

Read the original article on Insider