Do you find long distance running extremely difficult? Do you prefer weight lifting over running? Or maybe vice versa? And when it comes to diet, maybe you gain weight just by eating one extra slice of bread in a week?
It is probably connected to your body type or “somatotype”.
The three body types
There are three basic human body types or somatotypes: mesomorph, ectomorph and endomorph.
Ectomorph body type is characterised by thin, long muscles and limbs. People with this body type are naturally slim. They have fast metabolism and low body fat percentage.
Mesomorphs are naturally muscular and athletic. They usually have wide shoulders, well-developed muscles and trim waist. No need to say their body fat level is usually low.
Endomorph body type is characterised by a larger bone structure and a tendency for high-fat body percentage. People with this body type gain weight easier than others.
But, in my opinion, most of the people fall between the categories. First, it is possible for an individual to be a genetic combination of endomorph and mesomorph with strong, developed muscles and yet some extra body fat. Second, a person with a sedentary lifestyle and poor food choices will be probably characterised as an endomorph, while genetically person might be a mesomorph.
But the important thing is your lifestyle can affect your body type. A person can look like a mesomorph, but genetically they can be ectomorph or endomorph.
So what are nutrition and exercise recommendations for each body type?
If you are most likely ectomorph body type, you are naturally born marathon runner. You are good at activities that require endurance and stamina. As you are naturally slim, with long limbs, you probably would like to gain some muscle size and strength. That is why people with this body type are advised to increase their strength training and to keep cardiovascular training at a minimum amount. To maintain their cardiovascular fitness for general health, it is recommended to do cardio at a moderate pace for 30 minutes three times per week.
Mesomorph body type is in the world of fitness a gift of nature. Being naturally muscular and athletic, this body type is ideal for strength training and bodybuilding. But while people with this body type gain muscle mass easily, they tend to gain some fat, too. That is why for this body type it is recommended to do moderate to heavy weight lifting training with cardio training about 35 minutes 3 times a week. This will support the mesomorphs’ athletic performance and maintain low body fat percentage.
People with endomorph body type are naturally born heavyweight powerlifters. They tend to have a higher body fat percentage, but they are also muscular and strong. Endomorphs usually want to lose body fat, especially in the abdominal region. For this type, it is recommended to do weight training at least four times per week with one or two days of cardiovascular training. With a focus on weight training, the person’s muscle mass will increase. This will cause an increase in the base metabolic rate which will help shed off the body fat.
The nutritional recommendations for each body type are different because of their different metabolic characteristics. Ectomorphs, for example, have a fast metabolism that burns calories faster and higher carbohydrate tolerance. That is why when it comes to diet, ectomorphs are recommended to eat on daily basis 55% of carbs, 25% protein and 20% fats. The mesomorphs tend to have a moderate carbohydrate tolerance and if they are not careful, they can gain some body fat. For this body type, it is recommended to consume daily 40% carbs, 30% proteins and 30% fats. Endomorphs genetically have a slow metabolic rate and low carbohydrate tolerance. That is why they should keep an eye on carbohydrate intake as well as the amount and kind of fat they consume. The recommendation for endomorphs’ diet is 25% carbs, 35% proteins and 40% fat on daily basis.
Let’s say your goal is to lose some weight. In that case, you should follow the endomorphic diet recommendation (25% carbs, 35% protein and 40% fat). But this low-carb diet may not be suitable for everyone, especially if the person is involved in activities like jogging. There are other options for weight loss, like low-calorie diet, carb cycling, etc. Also, it is recommended to eat most of the carbs after exercise.
Maybe you are preparing for half-marathon? Then you should be careful to get enough energy to restore your glycogen levels to train and perform well. In that case, an ectomorphic recommendation is for you with a daily intake of 50% carbs, 25% protein and 20% fat. The same applies if you would like to gain some muscle.
And if you are heavyweight powerlifter then for you the recommendation is to follow the mesomorph diet that consists of 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat.