How Your Body Type Should Influence Your Diet

By October 17, 2016 Articles No Comments

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.

 

 

 

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