Monthly Archives: October 2016

How Your Body Type Should Influence Your Diet

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men body types diagram with three somatotypes

 

In my most recent posts we discussed energy balance and how you can properly manipulate energy consumption versus expenditure in order to gain or lose weight.

Now, we are going to get a little deeper into the nitty-gritty of where those calories should come from.  Or, in other words, how to optimally breakdown your intake of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) to help you be more efficient in achieving your goals.

 

Effects of Body Type on Nutrient Intake

 

So, what exactly determines how we should optimally breakdown our intake of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins?

A good deal of it comes down to your somatotype, or body type.

Now, it is important to understand that a body type goes far beyond simply how someone looks.  A body type is indicative of how your body will to respond to the intake of different foods, what your hormone profile may look like, or how dominant your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system is.

There are, indeed, many links between the characteristics of someone’s physique and their metabolic activity.

We will discuss how your body type effects when you should eat certain types of foods and how you should fuel yourself around a workout.  However, in this lesson we are going to hone in on how body types determine the optimal breakdown of macronutrients in your diet.

 

What Are These Body Types?

 

It’s worth noting that very few people fall directly into a specific body type.  Instead, many of us fall somewhere in between.

Also, a person’s body type can change over time.  This can happen through a combination of training, nutrition, and stress management, or occur with aging, largely due to hormonal changes.

For example, an endomorph can dedicate themselves to a disciplined training schedule and good dietary habits and wind up being a competitive bodybuilder.  Similarly, a long-time ectomorph can become obese and diabetic if they are inactive and eat like crap, all while they are growing older and older.

(I promise this will make more sense in a moment)

No one is doomed for eternity, but no one gets a completely free-pass forever.

So, even though most of you won’t fall neatly into one of these specific body types, it is important to find which is your default, or your general tendency, as it will help you be a little more specific with your nutrient intake, maximizing your progress toward your goal.  It will provide a solid baseline off which small adjustments can be made.

 

So, what are these body types?

 

3 Main Body Types

 

  1. Ectomorph

Ectomorphs are those who are naturally thin with skinny limbs.  They tend to have an “I-shaped” body.

That friend of yours who eats everything in sight, seemingly without putting on an ounce of fat is going to fall pretty close to this body type.

Ectomorphs have fast metabolic rates and a high tolerance for carbohydrates.  They are naturally more active and have a propensity toward being thyroid and sympathetic (fight or flight) dominant.

 

  1. Mesomorph

Mesomorphs are those who are naturally muscular and athletic.  They tend to have a “V-shaped” body.  Ladies, think Serena Williams.  Fellas, look at Arnold and Stallone.

Bros, that friend of yours who’s yolked out-of-his-mind and looks like he’s been riding the “gains train” since it left the station likely falls pretty darn close to this.

Mesomorphs tend to be moderately tolerant of carbohydrates.  They are commonly testosterone and growth hormone dominant with moderate to high sympathetic (fight or flight) activity.

 

  1. Endomorph

 

Endomorphs have a naturally broad and thick build.  Their body tends to be more “O-shaped.”

That friend of yours who has a extraordinarily hard time losing weight may very well fall close to this category.

Endomorphs are more insulin dominant and have a low carbohydrate tolerance and slower metabolism.  They have a natural tendency to be less active and have lower sympathetic (fight or flight) activity.

 

Eating For Your Body Type

 

Since different body types respond differently to food intake and have different characteristics regarding hormonal and sympathetic (fight or flight) activity, one can use this information to adjust their food intake to help maximize their body composition, health, and performance.

So, let’s take a look at recommendations of food intake for the three different main body types.

There’s a lot of information here, so if you like, simply skip ahead to the appropriate section and save yourself some time.

 

  1. Eating Like an Ectomorph

If you are prioritizing muscle gain, want to maximize performance for endurance competition, or you’re simply the stereotypical, beanpole-looking ectomorph, you’ll likely be best served trying to follow these guidelines.

 

General Recommendations

If you fall into this population, you are likely going to need a higher carbohydrate intake than most due to your body’s high tolerance for carbohydrate and/or its increased demand from training.

In general, keep a moderate amount of protein in your diet while consuming a higher amount of carbohydrate and lower amount of fat.

 

Percentage Breakdown

An ideal breakdown would consist of consuming 25% of your calories from protein, 55% from carbohydrates, and 20% from fats.

 

Portion-Control Guide

Using your hand as a guide for portion control, a typical meal for the average ectomorphic male should look something like this:

  • 2 palm-sized servings of protein-dense foods
  • 2 fist-sized servings of vegetables
  • 3 cupped-handfuls of carbohydrate-dense foods (grains, fruit, etc…)
  • 1 thumb-sized portion of fat-dense foods (nuts, oils, etc…)

Similarly, a typical meal for an average ectomorphic female should look something like this:

  • 1 palm-sized servings of protein-dense foods
  • 1 fist-sized servings of vegetables
  • 2 cupped-handfuls of carbohydrate-dense foods (grains, fruit, etc…)
  • ½ thumb-sized portion of fat-dense foods (nuts, oils, etc…)

 

  1. Eating Like a Mesomorph

For those of you who are prioritizing strength and power performance, are bodybuilders looking for a baseline diet, or are resemble the aforementioned naturally V-shaped, yolked gym-bro, you’ll likely achieve your best results mirroring these guidelines.

 

General Recommendations

Those of you following into one of these demographics likely have a moderate carbohydrate tolerance, requiring a more balanced breakdown of the three macronutrients.

In general, try to keep a fair balance of calorie consumption through carbohydrate, fats, and protein.

 

Percentage Breakdown

An ideal macronutrient breakdown for this type of eating would consist of consuming 30% of your calories from proteins, 40% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fats.

 

Portion-Control Guide

Using your hand as a guide for portion control, a typical meal for the average mesomorphic male should look something like this:

  • 2 palm-sized servings of protein-dense foods
  • 2 fist-sized servings of vegetables
  • 2 cupped-handfuls of carbohydrate-dense foods (grains, fruit, etc…)
  • 2 thumb-sized portion of fat-dense foods (nuts, oils, etc…)

Similarly, a typical meal for an average mesomorphic female should look something like this:

  • 1 palm-sized servings of protein-dense foods
  • 1 fist-sized servings of vegetables
  • 1 cupped-handfuls of carbohydrate-dense foods (grains, fruit, etc…)
  • 1 thumb-sized portion of fat-dense foods (nuts, oils, etc…)

 

  1. Eating Like an Endomorph

If you are one who is prioritizing fat loss, or would classify yourself as having an “O-shaped” body, finding it extremely hard to lose weight and finding it extremely easy to put on body fat, you will likely be able to maximize your desired results by adhering to the following guidelines.

 

General Recommendations

Those of you following in to this group are likely going to need to consume fewer carbohydrates due to your body’s low carbohydrate tolerance and/or decreased demand to achieve your training goal.

In general, consume a diet higher in protein and fat and lower in carbohydrate.

 

Percentage Breakdown

An ideal macronutrient breakdown for this type of eating would consist of consuming 35% of your calories from proteins, 25% from carbohydrates, and 40% from fats.

 

Portion-Control Guide

Using your hand as a guide for portion control, a typical meal for the average endomorphic male should look something like this:

  • 2 palm-sized servings of protein-dense foods
  • 2 fist-sized servings of vegetables
  • 1 cupped-handfuls of carbohydrate-dense foods (grains, fruit, etc…)
  • 3 thumb-sized portion of fat-dense foods (nuts, oils, etc…)

 

Similarly, a typical meal for an average endomorphic female should look something like this:

  • 1 palm-sized servings of protein-dense foods
  • 1 fist-sized servings of vegetables
  • ½ cupped-handfuls of carbohydrate-dense foods (grains, fruit, etc…)
  • 2 thumb-sized portion of fat-dense foods (nuts, oils, etc…)

 

Making Adjustments

 

Now, that you’ve read all of that, I must say that, for now, those of you who are continuing to see great results at this point may not need to make any adjustments based off this lesson.  As the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I also want to remind you that simplicity is key, so I don’t want you to beat your head against the wall trying to following these recommendations to a “T.”  Start by simply following the general guidelines, then perhaps progress to the portion-control guidelines.

To paraphrase some bro named Albert Einstein, keep everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Sounds like a pretty smart guy.

 

 

 

X’s and O’s of Weight Gain

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Bodybuilding And Sports Theme: A Thin Man In A White T-shirt And

I expect a vast majority of my reading audience will just automatically skip this article.

Perhaps if there was a time for a deceptive title, this was it.

I’m guessing those of you still with me are either hard-gainers, fitness nerds, or simply love my writing.

Maybe you’re all 3 like myself…

Well, regardless of that, today we are going to cover how to create a positive energy balance in order to gain weight.  As with weight loss, there is a right way and a wrong way to do so.

 Now, once again, before we jump in, let’s take a brief moment to refresh your memory of the concept of energy balance.

 

What is Energy Balance?

 

Energy balance is the relationship between the calories (energy) we consume through food and drink and the calories (energy) we expend through physical activity, as well as the numerous energy-dependent tasks our bodies perform.

 If you consume more calories than you expend, then you have created what is referred to as a positive energy balance.  A positive energy balance will result in weight gain.

If you expend more calories than you consume, then you have created a negative energy balance.  As you may have guessed, a negative energy balance will lead to weight loss.

Finally, if energy consumption and expenditure are equal, it will result in weight maintenance.

Knowing this, let’s take a look at how you can properly create a positive energy balance in order to promote weight gain.

 

Creating a Positive Energy Balance (Weight Gain)

 

Understanding the concept of energy balance, on the surface level, we are left with three potential ways to create a positive energy balance.

  1. Eat more
  2. Exercise less (again, better stated as expend less energy)
  3. Eat more and exercise less

On a deeper and more practical level, we can accomplish this objective in many ways, including:

  • Increasing lean body mass through weight training and nutrition
  • Minimize other forms of exercise
  • Limit non-exercise physical activity
  • Eat more energy dense foods
  • Eat at regular intervals throughout the day
  • Improve nutrient intake around training sessions
  • Sleep 7-9 hours per night
  • Managing stress levels

 

For a number of reasons, I highly recommend you begin to work on these before beginning to make any significant increases to your caloric intake or exercise intensity.  If you need help with any of the above, you may benefit from working with a quality coach.

That said, let’s take a look at where to go once nutrient deficiencies are accounted for, and sleep and stress management are on-point.

 

The Next Steps (Weight Gain)

 

  1. Re-evaluate your exercise intensity

The first step is to re-evaluate your perceived intensity of training.

If you’re seriously looking to add some muscle and pack on some pounds you have to push yourself.  This is the time to take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are truly working as hard as you think you are.

Some of you may be doing fine.  However, for others you may need to bump things up a notch or two.

Keep training smart.  Keep training with purpose.  But, start bringing a bit more grit and intensity.

 

  1. Increase caloric intake

The second step to take in pursuit of a positive energy balance is to increase your caloric intake.

Now, this can be done in several different manners, but we will touch on a couple of simple strategies.

The best place to start is by looking at your peri-workout nutrition.  While we will go into much greater detail in an article I will post in the coming weeks, for those who are struggling to increase their weight, try consuming some source of carbohydrate and protein both before and after your training session.  In addition, try sipping on a carbohydrate beverage throughout your workout.

Again, this will be covered in much more detail later on; however, feel free to get a head-start on this front.

Another option is simply remaining consistent with food selection while increasing quantity.  You can do this by adding in an additional snack or meal during the day or simply increasing your meal portions by roughly 10%.

A third option, which really is somewhat of an extension of the last, is substituting or adding in more calorically-dense foods to your diet.  This can be accomplished by doing something as simple as substituting whole milk for the skim or 2% you’re currently using.  You can add chia seeds or flax seeds to your recovery shakes.  Try adding some peanut or almond butter to your morning oatmeal.  Throw some nuts, avocado, or seeds in with the salad or vegetables you should be eating at every meal.

Essentially, just look for areas within your diet to which you can add more caloric and nutrient-dense foods.

 

  1. Keep exercise to 4-5 hours/week

If, at this point, your progress stagnates again, limit your exercise to 4-5 hours/week.

Because you still need a stimulus for muscle growth, any cuts to training volume should first come from non-weight training exercise.

 

  1. Increase caloric intake… Again

If progress continues to stagnate, look to employ the aforementioned strategies to once again increase your daily caloric intake.

 

  1. Decrease non-weight training exercise and physical activity

If your progress stagnates yet again, then we are in some serious hard-gainer territory now.

Look for any bit of non-weight training exercise or daily physical activity that can be reduced in order to help you create a positive energy balance.

 

  1. Increase caloric intake…One more time

All adjustments from this point forward need to come from further increases in caloric intake.  So, if you haven’t by now, at this point it’s time to take the reins off.  Unleash your inner fat-kid and buy him a one-way ticket for the gains train to Swole City.

 

So, to recap, before anything else, make sure to evaluate your current eating habits, ensuring that your diet is packed with nutrient and calorically-dense foods.  At the same time, make sure you getting an adequate amount of quality sleep and your stress levels are in check.  All of these factors can aid in creating a positive energy balance or increasing muscle mass.

Once these factors have been accounted for, follow the 6 steps listed and watch that needle on your scale start to tick upward.

For those of you wanting to take things a step further, or those of you looking for some straight up knowledge gains, come back next time where we will talk about how to improve health and performance by eating for your body type.

The X’s and O’s of Weight Loss

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Womans feet going on weighting scale at home

For every smart ass who’s ever said, “put your fork down,” thanks for being so insightful…

Yes, while eating less is sometimes necessary in order to lose weight or, better put, decrease body fat, there are many other things that factor in.  Not to mention there is definitely a right way to eat less and a wrong way to eat less, and many people are doing it wrong.

Now, before we go any further, let’s take a moment to go into a little more detail on energy balance, which we touched on in my last post on 4 Reasons Why Counting Calories is Worthless.

 

What is Energy Balance?

 

Energy balance is simply the relationship between our body’s energy intake and energy expenditure.  Or, in other words, it’s the well-known concept of calories in versus calories out.

We provide our body with energy in the form of calories through the food and drink we consume.  Since we know energy cannot be created nor destroyed, the body must either use these calories or store them.  The calories we consume through food and drink are used to perform exercise or physical activity, as well as the numerous complex tasks that occur within our bodies down to the cellular level.

So where does the balance part come in?

If you consume more calories than you expend, then you have created what is referred to as a positive energy balance.  A positive energy balance will result in weight gain, which may not be a positive thing for some of you.

Conversely, if you expend more calories than you consume, then you have created a negative energy balance.  As you may have guessed, a negative energy balance will lead to weight loss.

Finally, if energy consumption and expenditure are equal, it will result in weight maintenance.

Now, I’m sure this is not new information to many of you.  After all, this is pretty much the focal point behind almost any weight loss program, or weight gain program for that matter, that you’ve ever been exposed to.

However, once again, you cannot merely take this at face value.  There is most definitely a right way and many wrong ways to go about creating a negative or positive energy balance.

 

Creating a Negative Energy Balance (Weight Loss)

 

Knowing the premise of energy balance, on the surface level, we are left with three possible ways of creating a negative energy balance:

  1. Eat less
  2. Exercise more (or better put, expend more energy)
  3. Eat less and exercise more

 

On a bit deeper and more practical level, we can accomplish this objective in many ways, including:

 

  • Building muscle through weight training and nutrition
  • Using high-intensity exercise to increase post-exercise energy expenditure
  • Making changes in your training program to stimulate new adaptation or changes
  • Increase non-exercise physical activity
  • Developing proper dietary habits
  • Not engaging in extreme dieting methods
  • Increasing sleep quality
  • Sleeping 7-9 hours per night
  • Managing stress levels

 

For a number of reasons, I highly recommend you begin to work on these before beginning to make any significant cuts to your caloric intake.  If you need help with any of the above, you may benefit from working with a quality coach.

That said, lets take a look at where to go once nutrient deficiencies are accounted for, and sleep and stress management are on-point.

 

The Next Steps:

 

  1. Increase the Exercise Volume

The next step for you, ideally, is to increase your exercise volume to 5-7 hours per week.

If possible we want to begin with an increase in energy expenditure.  This will allow you to begin to create a negative energy balance, while maintaining a fairly high or relatively normal energy intake, full of health-promoting nutrients, minimizing concern for nutrient deficiencies.

 

  1. Decrease Calorie Intake

If your results stagnate once again, the next step is to decrease your caloric intake.

Now, it is very important that this be done conservatively.  If calories are cut too drastically and a severe negative energy balance is created, it will cause a decline in metabolism, reduction in bone mass, thyroid hormones, and testosterone, and impair concentration and physical performance.

This is why “crash diets” and, when administered poorly, very low-calorie diets are not only ineffective, but also counterproductive.

Instead, when creating a conservative or moderate negative energy balance, our body senses this small shortage in energy and uses our fat reserves to cover the difference.

When attempting to decrease your caloric intake, start small.

One place to start is eliminating your intake of caloric beverages. 

I know you love that grande caffè mocha you pick up at the Starbucks drive-thru every morning.  However, that creamy-caffeinated goodness is packing over 300 calories, which by itself can make a significant difference in creating a negative energy balance.

So instead, try to keep your beverage choices to black coffee, water, and unsweetened tea.

Another way to decrease your caloric intake is through eliminating your use of condiments.

Again, this is another simple strategy that can be hugely impactful. Just take a look at these stats:

 

1 tbsp ketchup = 19 calories

1 tbsp light mayo = 35 calories

1 tbsp BBQ sauce = 29 calories

1 tbsp ranch dressing = 73 calories

 

Now, a couple of these numbers may seem small and insignificant, but once you take into account serving size, things really add up, especially if you’re someone who likes a little hamburger with their ketchup… like me.

One last tip on moderately cutting your caloric intake is to simply cut your meal size down by roughly 10%.  This may be ideal for some, requiring little or no change to the types of food you are consuming; however, it does take a concerted effort to make sure the appropriate decrease in intake is applied at every meal.

If that’s too complicated, try simply leaving 1-3 bites of your meal left on your plate.

You may not prefer to throw a couple bites of food away, but like very quotable grandfather told me when I was a chubby, little kid, “It’s better to go to waste than to your waist.”

 

  1. Increase Exercise Volume… Again

If results stagnate once again, your third step is to once again, moderately increase exercise volume.  Generally, a 1-2-hour increase is appropriate.

 

  1. Decease Calorie Intake… Again

If your progress becomes stagnate yet again, make another small reduction in your calorie intake.

 

Hopefully you are beginning to see a pattern emerge.  Simply alternate small increases in exercise volume and small reduction in caloric intake, as long as is necessary.

Make sure, however, you cap your weekly exercise total at around 10-12 hours.  Once you have reached this point, if your progress stagnates, all further measures taken should consist of small, periodic reductions in calorie intake.

 

As we close, it is worth noting that weight loss is a complex topic.  The exact answer to the question, “what is my next step?” really depends on where you are as an individual.  Some of you may need to simply follow the steps contained within this article, others may need to consider seeking the help of a coach.

That said, remember that first step in regards to nutrition is eating more nutrient-dense, whole foods.  Along with this, improving sleep habits, reducing stress, and increasing activity will all contribute to a negative energy balance.

Finally, to all of those who are want to hop aboard the gains train and pack on some pounds, and who for some reason made it all the end of this article, I haven’t forgotten about you.  I’ll be back soon with my next post on eating for weight gain.