We’re a society of food fads; every day there seems to be a new miracle diet. These days, amongst many, there’s paleo, keto, Whole30, DASH, and volumetrics, not to mention Mediterranean, vegan, intermittent fasting, and old favorites like Atkins and Weight Watchers. Now a new diet has been thrown into the mix: say hello to eating for specific body types.
Of the three body types, it’s the endomorphs with larger, bulkier body compositions who may see the best benefits of adapting a body type-specific diet plan. But before we explore the specifics of why that is, let’s first take a look at the three different body types.
What Are the Three Body Types?
During the 1940s, researcher and psychologist William Sheldon classified the human body into three categories (or somatotypes) based on body composition and skeletal build. Sheldon’s research suggests that body types are inherited, and as such, individualized plans may be needed to reach weight loss and fitness goals. Sheldon’s three body types are ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs.
Ectomorphs have higher metabolisms, which lets them eat more with little weight gain. They also have a smaller body size, narrower frame, and smaller joints. Think long-distance runners.
Mesomorphs usually have larger skeletal frames and lower percentages of body fat. They are typically athletic built and gain muscle and lose weight easily. Mesomorphs are the most common of the three somatotypes.
The Challenge of Being Endomorph
Endomorphs will typically have a larger bone structure and a higher percentage of body fat with less muscle mass. While endomorphs are often heavier and rounder, that does not necessarily mean they are obese. Endomorph body types tend to have a slower metabolism, making it easier for them to gain weight but harder for them to lose it. Building and keeping lean muscle mass can also be difficult for mesomorphs.
Because of these challenging weight loss aspects, endomorphs need to burn more calories than they consume, and monitoring food intake becomes important. But as we’ll see, what endomorphs eat is just as important as how much they eat.
What is An Endomorph Diet?
Not surprisingly, the endomorph diet focuses on weight and fat loss. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an effective endomorph eating plan should be an equal mix of macronutrients, with 30 percent carbohydrates, 35 percent protein, and 35 percent fat. As a point of comparison, the CDC reports that the average American diet consists of 50 percent carbs, 15 percent protein, and 35 percent fat. While the endomorph diet does not put a limit on daily calorie consumption, a caloric deficit is still needed for effective weight loss.
Since endomorphs have slower metabolisms, the excess calories they take in are usually converted to fat. Because of that, the endomorph diet encourages taking in more protein, fiber, and healthy fats while putting a limit on carbs.
Say No to Bad Carbs
A study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) indicates that those with an endomorphic body type tend to be more sensitive to carbohydrates and insulin. Carbohydrate-rich foods release sugars rapidly into the bloodstream, causing blood sugar spikes. The body is also more likely to turn these sugars into fat rather than burn them as energy. So, those on an endomorph diet need to limit or avoid carbohydrate-dense foods, especially refined carbs like sugar and white breads, flours, and rice.
Instead, carbohydrate sources for the endomorph diet primarily include vegetables with smaller amounts of unrefined whole grains and high-fiber starches. If that sounds a lot like the paleo diet, it’s because the two share the same low-carb philosophy. Unlike paleo, the endomorph diet permits the intake of high-fiber grains and dairy. Excellent sources of “good” carbs that will work with an endomorph diet plan include:
- Dried beans and legumes like kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- Fruits, except melons and pineapple
- Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and celery
- Unrefined whole-grain or whole-wheat products, such as all-bran cereal, quinoa, and 100% whole wheat or multigrain bread
- Some starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams, corn, and carrots
- High-fiber starches like quinoa, oats, and brown rice
- Nuts like walnuts, cashews, and peanuts
The Importance of Exercise
For endomorphs, dieting alone may not be enough for effective weight loss and control. Exercise also needs to be an important part of the mix. Since endomorphs typically have slower metabolisms, consistent aerobic and anaerobic training will help increase metabolic efficiency, boost energy, and accelerate fat burn.
As well as consistent cardio, weight training and exercise routines like high intensity interval training (HIIT) can also help endomorph bodies burn fat while building muscle and lean body mass. In fact, an increase in overall physical activity is recommended for mesomorphs, who as we noted, often tend to be sedentary.
Bottom line, sensible and healthy eating and nutrition plans and consistent fitness and strength training regimens will always be the keys to effective and safe weight loss and maintenance, no matter your body type.