Eating & Training For Your Body Type
By Christine Hronec
When approaching a physique goal, a lot of us have a physical standard in our minds of what we want to look like. We may be inspired by the bodies of people we see on social media and begin to compare ourselves to others as a result of the visual overload in the health and fitness industry. While there is nothing wrong with gaining inspiration and motivation from the accomplishments of others, it is quite another to not feel good about yourself until you obtain a specific appearance.
For this reason, it is crucial to take a step back to gauge your body type when considering your health and fitness goals. While you may admire the physique of a fitness model or professional athlete, they may have a completely different body type from you and a different genetic pre-disposition. This does not mean that you cannot make improvements in your own body, it simply means that by embracing your body type you will have a better idea of what tried and true principles will work as well as others that will not.
If you are tired to taking things to extremes, if you are sick of failing, and if you want more insight with respect to how to approach specific goals given your body type, you can put your mind at ease knowing that you can love the skin you are in today and that your physique looking a certain way isn’t a prerequisite to feeling good. You can feel good about yourself the day you wake up in the morning and decide that today is the day you will choose health over vanity, choose self-acceptance over self-hate, and you will choose a sustainable healthy approach to your goals based on science.
The macros approach to nutrition is one that will enable you to seek your best physique that you can achieve. This approach is about setting a standard for yourself and not arbitrarily following someone else's macros because they do not apply to you, they were built for someone else. Attempting to use someone else's macros to reach your goals is about as futile as a boxer trying to wear another boxer’s mouth guard. It’s molded to fit their mouth shape, jaw, teeth imprint, etc. (and it’s just gross lol). Your macros are YOUR macros. They are not better than anyone else, they are what YOU need and you alone. The sooner you come to terms with your body type and embrace it instead of despising it, the sooner you can be mentally free to confidently pursue your best health.
The math and logic behind calculating your macros to support how to come up with how much food you should eat per day is based on gender, age, height, and weight. One factor that is not typically considered when it comes to fat loss is body type or somatotype. This term was originally coined by W.H Sheldon in the 1940’s as a way to describe a category or type as it applies to three principal human forms: endomorphic, mesomorphic, and ectomorphic. These generalized body types were based off of the science of how embryo’s develop in layers:
• Inner Layer- Endoderm (focused on the digestive tract development)
• Middle Layer- Mesoderm (focused on muscle, heart, and blood development)
• Outer Layer- Ectoderm (focused on the nervous system development)
Sheldon named the 3 primary body types based off of these 3 germ layers associated with embryonic development. Some of his originally theories involved presumptions related to behavioral science which were later disproven (i.e. theories related to psychological temperament based on your physique was shown to have no merit), however the classifications have merit from a human biological perspective. The somatotype theory is supported in mammals based on the 3 layers of origin where the tissue of a dissected cadavers was weighed and broken down by origin layers. The results support this the somatotype theory and provide a reference point for additional research. Each somatotype reacts to weight gain and weight loss in varying ways and the purpose of this chapter is to provide additional insight to help you determine your body type and provide additional things to keep in mind to support your goals that you may not have considered before. Nutritionists, trainers, doctors and other health professionals utilize one’s somatotype to support the design of a customized meal and training program.
All body types can gain or lose weight but the degree and rate at which they do varies. Most do not perfectly into a single body type category, but instead have qualities of at least two body types. However, while we may not fit a body type exactly, we will fit into one category better than the next and have a predominant body type. Ectomorphs tend to be long and lean and may struggle to gain weight or muscle. Mesomorphs are naturally muscular and tend to gain or lose weight easily. Endomorphs are typically pear-shaped, store fat easily and may have a difficult time losing weight. Let’s explore each body type further.
Endomorphs generally have a smooth, round body, medium-large bone structure, small shoulders and shorter limbs. They usually carry their weight in the lower abdomen, hips, and thighs rather than evenly distributed throughout the body. This pattern of fat distribution makes it a bit harder to lose weight. Endomorphs typically have a difficult time losing fat with diet alone, so a well- rounded fitness program is a must for the endomorph. In general, endomorphs must commit to a lifelong program without overtraining. Building muscle comes easily for endomorphs; however, a slower metabolism and extra body fat make it much harder for endomorphs to stay lean. Endomorphs’ basic disposition is to take it easy and relax, but they must stay in motion almost every day to fight against the urge to chill out.
• Puts on weight easily
• Slow metabolism
• Tends to struggle just to maintain weight
• Hips wider than shoulders
• Gains muscle easily
• Tends to store body fat in the lower abdomen and thighs
• Low tolerance for carbohydrate-rich foods
Weight Loss Solutions for Endomorphs:
• Light weight*, high rep workouts are effective for toning
• Consistent, high intensity cardio at 80% of the maximum heart rate (4 times per week or more)
• Time carbohydrates post-workout
• Eliminate alcohol and decrease starchy carb intake
• Eat 25-30g protein with every meal
• Paleo style meal plans are particularly effective for endomorphs
*This does not mean that endomorphs cannot lift heavy and look good. Lifting “light” does not mean the training is easy or not challenging. It simply means that a burn out approach has been shown to be more effective for endomorphs that have weight to drop.
Famous Female Endomorphs:
Scarlett Johansson, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah
Famous Male Endomorphs:
Jay Culter, Chris Pratt, Marshawn Lynch
Mesomorphs don’t have to worry too much about what they eat and they can gain muscle mass and lose weight fairly quickly with relatively easily. This combination allows the mesomorph to achieve fantastic definition of the body. However, as easily as you lose fat, you gain fat also. Janet Jackson is a good example of someone who has struggled with fluctuating weight, but when determined is able to lose weight relatively quickly and look incredibly defined and boast amazing abs.
• Stores fat evenly and has a flat stomach
• Has the ability to gain muscle quickly
• Naturally muscular with medium-sized bone structures
• Can easily lose weight when focused and dialed in
• Can easily gain weight when not paying attention to portions
Weight Loss Solutions for Mesomorphs:
• Weight training should be hard and heavy, but with enough variation to shape and not bulk.
• Rest time should be 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets.
• Eliminate alcohol and decrease starchy carb intake
• No major challenges for mesomorphs to lose weight. Balanced nutrition of approximately 40% carbs, 30-40% protein and 20-30% fat works for most.
• For weight loss, a calorie deficit of 500 calories from diet from maintenance intake is all that is needed.
Famous Female Mesomorphs:
Madonna, Jessica Biel, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Garner
Famous Male Mesomorphs:
Channing Tatum, Mark Walhberg, Ryan Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone
Ectomorphs tend to have a “fast metabolism” compared to the average person and have difficulty gaining weight regardless of how much they eat. They often tend to be picky eaters with small appetites and have most likely been thin their entire lives. This body type has a small bone structure, narrow shoulders, flat chest, narrow waist and hips, small wrists, skinny ankles, and an overall linear ruler body type. Sometimes, but not always, they’re a bit on the lanky side with longer than average limbs and longer than average muscle belly length.
• Find it hard to gain weight, fast metabolism
• Narrow hips, long arms and legs
• Small bones and joints
• Inherent capacity for cardiovascular endurance
Weight Loss Solutions for Ectomorphs:
• Lift Heavy
• Rest longer between sets 2-3 minutes.
• Eat 5-6 times per day
Famous Female Ectomorphs:
Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Audrey Hepburn, Taylor Swift, Zoe Saldana
Famous Male Ectomorphs:
Kobe Bryant, David Beckham, Brad Pitt