What can I learn from my body type? Part 2- Nutrition and Exercise
After reading Part one (click link if you haven't) you should now be able to identify which body type you are. This is very helpful in helping you understand your body and learn to love who you are. However, sometimes we still want to change for the better, whatever that may be.
For any body type, exercise is going to help you lose fat because it will help you achieve a calorie deficit easier(your body is using more calories than you are eating). However, the rate at which you will lose the fat can be changed by simply changing your macros and fitness routine. Remember, what works for you and your body type won't necessarily work for others. This is why when I say everyone is different, I truly mean it. Not because you look different, but your body responds differently as well.
Protein seems to be the new must have buzz word in nutrition these days, I mean you even see it on Mac and Cheese commercials. It is essential for weight loss and muscle gains and all body types respond to protein in a similar way. Instead, I want to talk about the other macro nutrients: carbohydrates (carbs) and fats.
Our bodies are amazing organisms, they have mastered the ability to survive in scarcity. The body feeds off of food for energy and knows how to go into starvation mode, storing and protecting its fat, when you are at an extreme calorie deficit. This is why an extremely low calorie diet (like 1200 calories), with intense workout is counterproductive.
Fat is a very good energy source; it has 9 calories (energy) per gram. Our bodies have evolved to store as much of this rich energy source as possible. We need it to help regulate hormones as well as provide the body with sustainable energy. Fats have often been looked at as "bad" and should be avoided. I say, eat your cheese, cream and your avocado and don't feel guilty! Fats in moderation are not something to be afraid of but can be beneficial to your health. Fat is necessary for normal bodily function.
When you plan your daily menu you need to plan for fats taking longer to be converted to usable energy than carbs. This means, if you are not an active person, or are on a rest day, your body does not require a lot of quick energy (carbs). The body will not burn through them and then holds onto both the quick and sustainable energy. It isn't the fat in food as much as it is the caloric surplus that is making the fat gain occur.
Carbohydrates are a source of quick energy made from glucose (sugar); this is your bodies source of energy that is easiest to metabolize and its most readily available source. If you are inactive your body converts the glucose to glycogen to be stored in the muscles and liver. If you consume more calories from carbs than your body can burn, it will chemically convert the glycogen to fat. Because carbs only have 4 calories of energy per gram, you can burn through them quickly, which doesn't make them a great source of sustainable energy. While carbs are necessary for muscle growth, not every body type processes them the same. Carbs are tricky and don't always play nice!
So how can this all work for your body type?
As an endomorph, having a very consistent nutrition plan and tracking is key to keeping the weight off and achieving your fitness goal. With this body type you have some degree of carbohydrate and insulin sensitivity. This means the body has a natural tendency to store the sugars that are processed in carbs such as breads, pastas, and refined sugar as fat instead of burning those calories. For other body types, the energy they get from these foods are usually well utilized when they are strength training and lifting heavy.
However, because of the genetics in you endomorphs, your body has a tendency to store them even with strength training. This in no way means you can't ever eat bread, or most importantly, a cookie! It just means that compared to other body types, like ectomorphs, your carb ratio is lower, not non existent.
The carbs you need to eat are non dense, low calorie, high fiber foods like vegetables, quinoa and some fruits. Eating foods like pasta, breads and high starchy foods (potatoes) should be eaten moderately. Fruits are full of vitamins and minerals but are also high in sugars, which means higher in carbs. You must be careful to not eat more than two serving of fruit a day, OR swap out another carb source so you can have an additional fruit serving for the day. Eating twice the serving size of vegetables as fruit will help your body consume more for few calories.
For some people the idea of having to really restrict their carbohydrate intake might make them cringe. Trust me, I am one of them! Even as an endomorph, you do not need be on a low carbohydrate diet the rest of your life, if you can incorporate the proper fitness routine.
The combination of HIIT for cardio and strength training is HUGE for endomorphs. Not only will they see results in muscle gain quickly, but strength workouts allow the body to consume more carbohydrates because it needs to replenish the glycogen stores that were depleted during strength training. Your strength training needs to focus on lower weight and higher reps.
As an endomorph, you can easily create large muscular build if you train hard and heavy. If that is your goal, you will see growth in no time! However, if you want to stay more cut, you need to strength train with higher reps (12 being the minimum), and super set multiple muscle groups together. Incorporate HITT training 15-20 minutes for every workout. Cardio/strength circuits that can be done at home are a great way to workout this body type. Learn to love cardio because your body needs it!
For nutrient timing, when you eat during the day, you need to eat your heavier carb meal post workout. This is essential because your body needs to replenish the depleted glycogen stores and is less likely to store it as fat. Eat up after a workout and enjoy every bite of your calorie dense food. You sweated, you deserve it!
Macro ratio for fat loss that works well is 35% protein, 25% carbs, 40% fat with a calorie defecit. To increase muscle mass the macros shouldn't change much, 35% protein, 30% carbs 35% fats staying within maintenance calories.
Mesomorphs are the one body type that the macro ratio can be both a high carb/low fat, or low carb/high fat diet and be successful. You will pick the diet based on your fitness goal. As a mesomorph, you will do well in achieving a fitness goal when you are tracking macros and staying consistent. Your athletic build allows your body to process carbohydrates a little easier, and your body already has a good base for lean muscle mass.
If your goal is to build muscle, you have a good chance at meeting those goals. If you want to get lean and cut, you can as well. You are in the drivers seat with how you want your body to look. However, your success in your fitness goals will require you to be deliberate.
Having a well balanced macro ratio works well for this body type. The carbs you eat can be calorie dense (breads and pastas), but you also need a good amount of high fiber foods like vegetables and fruits. If you are strength training, calorie dense foods are your friend. If you are opting for a lighter strength training program, you need to eat those types of carbs moderately and focus on getting full on fiber rich foods.
Even as a mesomorph you still need to incorporate HIIT training into your fitness routine. You do not need to do it daily, but your body type does well with variety. Switching up your workouts throughout the week, as well as changing them up completely every 4 weeks, is the key to not hitting plateaus. Strength training should be part of your weekly routine at least 3 times a week with HIIT training 2-3 times for fat loss/maintenance. If you chose to do minimal cardio your fat will not shred as easily. Strength training should be done hard and heavy with little rest between sets. You want to keep the heart rate up while focusing on strength. Super sets are great to help keep the heart rate elevated. You can also focus on one muscle area for a workout and hit that muscle hard for that day, with no cardio. Strength circuits that can be done at home with resistance bands, mini bands and dumbbells can also help you achieve any fat loss or strength goals. Play around with your workouts.
You can be creative and not to structured and still see slow results. For nutrient timing, a higher carb meal should still be consumed post workout. You always need to eat to restore and rebuild. This body type does well with spreading your carbohydrates evenly throughout your meals. If you are strength training to build muscle make sure you are eating frequently, 5-6 times a day. If you are trying to lose fat, eat frequently but with 2 meals at a high carb ratio and the rest of your meals/snacks on having an even P/C/F (Protein/Carbohydrates/Fats) ratio.
Being mesomorphs, allows you to easily change your body depending on your macro ratio. If you are seeking fat loss a very balanced macro ratio of 30% Protein, 35% carbs, 35% fats with a calorie deficit will get you there. If you are wanting to increase your muscle mass, increase your carbohydrates to a higher carb ratio of 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20%fats and be in a slight calorie surplus.
As stated in my previous post, ectomorphs are the body type that people envy because of the amount of food you can eat and not gain weight. Notice though that I said not gain WEIGHT. As an ectomorph, you can still gain FAT, although it takes a really poor diet. It may seem like an ideal situation to be able to eat calorie after calorie but even with eating large amounts of food the "boyish" figure still remains. The emotional aspect of being skinny, if you want to gain muscle, can be just as damaging as fat loss, maybe more.
If your goal is to be a fast marathon runner being an ectomorph can be an advantage. If you want to gain muscle, dig deep and find a love for weight training, you will need it!
As an ectomporh, the work you have to put in to change the way your body looks, no one should envy. Your body is constantly in overdrive. Your metabolism is a well oiled machine without having to train it to burn constantly. Because of this, lean muscle mass is hard to keep and build on the body. This is where the "skinny" look comes from. It is not so much that there is not any fat on the body, but instead, there is a lack of lean muscle.
Tracking is still essential for you to achieve your fitness goal. Even for fat loss you need to make sure that you are not over eating in a macro nutrient ratio that doesn't help produce fat loss. Eating frequently with a lot of calorie dense foods is key! You can eat your breads, pastas and starchy foods daily. To help promote muscle gains you need to eat, and then eat some more. This might be your biggest struggle. Your body won't naturally feel hungry which leads you to not want to eat. Choosing not to eat can do more damage than overeating.
Focus on getting sufficient protein and carbohydrates to build the muscles being worked. To build muscle mass is not a time to be scared of carbs. Your body needs them! The cells that are formed to create muscle are built off the protein and carbohydrate nutrients you eat. If you eat less, you will build less. To gain muscle you will spend a lot of time in calorie surplus. Enjoy it!
Your exercise regimen to gain muscle will take a lot of hard work and dedicated gym time. It is not easy to gain the muscle needed with at home workouts, unless you have heavy weights and racks at home. You need to be lifting hard and heavy 5 times a week. Incorporate hypotro[hy workouts into your weekly line up as well. This means lower weight, higher reps with a strict focus on mind muscle connection. Focusing on slow movements and working for build not strength. Focus on one to two muscle groups each training session, working muscle groups more than once in a week. Take longer rests between sets to allow your body to regain the strength to continue to push heavy weights.
If you hate cardio, you are in luck! I am a huge advocate of incorporating cardio into your fitness routine no matter your body type. However, you do not need to focus large amounts of cardio training. If you enjoy it, 1-2 session for 30 minutes a week is sufficient. Low intensity steady state cardio, running at the same speed the whole time, works better while trying to build muscle. On really heavy lifting days, no cardio is recommended, or split up your cardio and lifting sessions for different times in the day.
Don't be scared of the heavy weights! Your body will react completely different to them than an endomorph would. You will not build a boxy, huge muscular frame. Lifting heavy will first build your lean muscle mass, and then help it grow slowly. Your genetics won't allow for your muscles to ever gain an extreme bulk. That in no way means you can not be strong. The size of your muscle has nothing to do with the strength of it!
As an endomorphs your macro ratio for fat loss and muscle gain rarely change. Adding exercise will encourage fat loss even with a higher carb ratio. To focus on muscle gains with fat loss use a macro ratio of 35% protein, 45% carbs, 20% fats. The only change would be to go from a maintenance calorie to a large calorie surplus for muscle gains.
We are all SO different that comparing yourself to others is only damaging you. I want you to learn about YOUR body and how YOU can make it what YOU want. That is when you become the best version of you possible and results happen. You are all beautiful and strong! Do not let someone else's genetics make you feel otherwise. You got this!
Starting small and creating realistic and attainable goals is key to making any program work for you. Read about my tips for creating and attaining your goals HERE.