Are you not losing a inch off your waist? Is all the ice cream you eat going to your hips? Are you not losing your paunch, no matter how many crunches you do?
Well, the answer might lie with your body type. Believe it or not, but the loss or gain of weight in human bodies is a much more complex process than simple arithmetic of calories.
Contrary to the popular belief, different people have different responses when subjected to the same diet and exercise program.
Human body is a complex structure with highly sophisticated detail. The major factors influencing the body shape are the skeletal configuration as well as the distribution of muscles and body fat.
Body type is not just the way the body looks, but it also determines the response of the hormonal and sympathetic nervous system (SNS).
A thorough and complete understanding of one’s body type is essential, whether the objective is losing weight or staying fit. Even the dresses that suit a person has a lot to do with his/her body type.
Once the body type is figured out, a suitable diet and exercise plan can be followed, and you can be well on your way to a glorious body!
The theory of Somatotypes introduced by US psychologist, Dr. William H. Sheldon in the 1940s classifies the human bodies into conventionally three body types:
The long and lanky Ectomorphs, the naturally athletic and brawny Mesomorphs and bulky but soft looking Endomorphs.
The theory states that eating according to one’s specific body type helps reach individual dietary goals faster.
Body Type 1: Ectomorph
This body type is known variously as the rectangle, banana, or straight body type. They are referred to as the “rectangle” since they may appear straight up and down.
It is due to the length of their limbs, coupled with the low development of muscle mass on the limbs.
Ectomorphs are the typically thin people. They are inclined neither to store fat nor to build muscle.
Owing to their long, thin limbs, they are usually known to participate in long distance sport- like marathons, cross country running and other such sports that require endurance. They have small joints and slender muscle.
Ectomorphs have incredibly high metabolisms and can eat relentlessly with little to no weight gain.
Their characteristics include a small slight frame and bone construction, hyperactivity, small appetite, flat chest, youthful appearance, speedy metabolism and lean muscle mass.
They have trouble in putting on weight and are usually tall with low body fat. Muscle growth takes time.
These are the people who seem to eat a lot and never gain any weight. It is because they have an exceptionally fast metabolism that helps them burn major amounts of calories even when they are asleep.
Ectomorphs are highly tolerant of carbohydrates. They have greater sensitivity to catecholamines like epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Diet for Ectomorphs Body Type
For ectomorphs to see a difference in their bodies, they need to dedicate time in understanding their bodies and find what is exactly required for them to put on mass.
An Ectomorph needs to consume 750-1000 calories above their maintenance calories (maintenance calories is a number of calories you need to consume to maintain your current body weight).
A carbohydrate rich diet typically works best for this group. Since they need to bulk up, eating about 2 to 2.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight seems a good place to start.
Also, complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, yams, sweet potatoes, bagels and brown pasta are to be preferred.
Drinking simple carbs during the workout has also been found advantageous.
Proteins, on the other hand, are indisputably the most important macronutrient for ectomorphs. Protein shakes after the workout session makes sure that the hard work at the gym pays off.
Since the objective is to create lean muscle, they must stick to lean sources of protein such as fish, chicken, turkey, lean steak, and eggs.
People in this category are going to have to consume 1.5 g of proteins per pound of body weight to see any substantial changes.
While the overall fat intake for ectomorphs is lower, one must keep in mind that not all fats are bad.
Fats like omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 are quite good for the body. Avocado, oily fish, nuts, and eggs are excellent sources of these fats.
The ratio of macronutrients that the Ectomorphs typically need to hit is 50 % carbohydrates, 30 % protein, and 20 % fat.
You need to devote time to find out exactly what diet works for you. Try to consume as many calories as possible.
If no difference in weight is noted, increase the intake by 500 calories and so on until the scale does move!
You need to pace yourself while eating and try to eat every 2-4 hours. Since the metabolism rate is very high, you need to be “fueling your engine”, so to speak.
Exercise Routine For Ectomorphs
Classically, the minimum amount of cardiovascular exercises is recommended for the ectomorphs, as cardio does not contribute much to the building up mass.
Cardio should include HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) or circuit training, according to personal preference. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses that target multiple body parts at a time are recommended.
Ectomorphs need to train heavier with 5-10 repetitions. They are allowed to take longer breaks (since heavier weights are used).
They need to give their muscle more time to recover between training sessions, more so than other body types. The workout session must be completed within 45 minutes to 1 hour.
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Body Type 2: Mesomorphs
Males in this category have smaller buttocks, broad chest and bigger shoulders, which makes a V- torso and is conventionally considered attractive.
Mesomorphs are marked by greater than average muscular development.
They have a narrow waist and low-fat levels. A mesomorph has a large bone structure, strong muscles, and a naturally lithe physique. The bones and muscles of the skull and the head are protuberant.
Their facial features are unmistakably defined such as a strong, thick jaw and high cheekbones. The face is rectangular. They have a tendency of gaining muscle but not of storing fat.
They also tend to lose or gain weight relatively quickly. They are also strong, which provides a solid platform for building muscle.
Strongmen, power lifters, and competitive bodybuilders are most commonly mesomorphs.
Mesomorphs excel in sports that require high strength, short spurts of energy, and lots of power.
A mesomorph may be considered to be midway between ectomorphs and endomorphs and hence, display qualities from both the categories. They have a larger frame than an endomorph combined with the low body fat percentage of an ectomorph.
They boast an upright posture. Mesomorphs have a proportionate physique, broad shoulders, and small abdomen.
They gain muscle quickly, burn fat without difficulty and eat in moderation. They also have low body fat.
They excel in sports that call for power and swiftness. Mesomorphs have the kind of body everybody aspires for.
Diet For Mesomorphs
Nutrition plays a huge part in eliminating body fat and adding lean mass.
While Mesomorphs do have a genetic advantage, following the wrong diet can ruin their robust metabolism and have an adverse effect on their shapely bodies. Generally, Mesomorphs may consume 500 calories over their maintenance calories.
A Mesomorph’s diet can be high in calories if they are active physically.
Since their metabolism is not lightning fast like the Ectomorphs, they need not consume as many calories as the Ectomorphs. On a macronutrient basis, the combination that works is 40 % carbohydrates, 30 % protein and 30 % fat.
The Mesomorphs looking to gain weight must take in more calories than is required by their body just to maintain their current weight.
Mesomorphs looking to gain lean muscle mass must be careful to eat enough calories and a sufficient amount of protein on all days, including ones on which they do not exercise.
Mesomorphs looking to lose weight may start by reducing the calorific intake by 200 calories and may then go as high as 500 calories. Mesomorphs too need to take 1-1.5 g of protein per pound of their bodyweight.
They must, however, be cautious while consuming carbohydrates. Carbs that the body absorbs slowly, such as vegetables are recommended.
More carbohydrates may be obtained from dried fruits, potatoes, oatmeal and other foods. Healthy fats are an essential part of every diet and hence there is no harm in increasing the intake of nuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil and avocados, etc.
Fast-digesting carbohydrates such as maltodextrin or glucose must be consumed only with protein and after the workout.
The frequency of meals should also be increased to six per day, with small meals being eaten every two hours or so.
Exercise Routine For Mesomorphs
Mesomorphs being the aggressive, energetic athletes are the envy of all at the gym. Despite having a great body gifted to them by nature,
Mesomorphs may become overweight if they have a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, having a suitable exercise regimen is vital.
Mesomorphs can train longer and harder than the Ectomorphs, owing to their strength.
Mesomorphs need to blend in cardio into their workout routine as well if they want to remain lean. However, a ton of cardio is not needed for them.
Cardio on the treadmill, bike and Stairmaster for half an hour three times a week is sufficient.
Mesomorphs are advised to train in the 8-12 repetition range. 30 seconds to 1-minute break in between sets is allowed. Some of the best workout plans for Mesomorphs are yoga, Pilates, boot camp training and step classes.
As far as weight training is concerned, three exercises for each body part thrice a week is more than enough. 3 to 4 sets of each exercise will help you in achieving a toned look.
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Body Type 3: Endomorphs
Endomorphs are typically the people who are referred to as “fat or beefy”. The body type of the Endomorph is solid and soft. They have a short build with stout limbs. The Endomorphic body type is the completely in contrast to the body of an Ectomorph.
Endomorphs are large in appearance and have a heavier fat accumulation, generally around the waist. They have massive upper arms and thighs, with small wrists and ankles.
Endomorphs have a larger bone structure with total body mass being on the upper range. They tend to put on both lean muscle mass and fat mass fairly quickly. However, they are seen struggling to drop the weight.
The body fat in an Endomorph may have a tendency to settle in the lower regions of the body, as well, earning their body the title of “pear shaped”. Endomorphs even have an inclination of becoming obese. On the advantageous side, the soft, flowing curves of an Endomorphic female, along with full hips and rounded shoulders, earn adjectives such as “voluptuous or sensual”.
These people have a “sluggish” metabolism, meaning they have to put in a conscious effort in doing things that their bodies should automatically do for them.
Endomorphs are good at sports such as rugby and rowing where being bulky is beneficial, if the bulk can be moved powerfully.
Other sports include sumo wrestling, javelin throw, and shot put.
Diet For Endomorphs Body Type
Since Endomorphs need to burn huge amounts of fats, they need to take more of fiber rich foods that are low in calories. It means that when it comes to carbohydrates, grains, oatmeal, brown rice and fruits are the way to go.
Again, contrary to the popular belief, eating healthy fats help in burning away the undesirable fats in the body.
Endomorphs are strongly advised to have at least one serving of fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, etc. with each meal. A number of carbs needs to be minimized.
The macronutrient ratio that these people need to hit is 25 % carbs, 35 % protein, and 40 % fat. They need to eat 200-500 calories less than their maintenance calories.
Processed and fast foods need to be avoided at all costs. Flash dieting is to be avoided. Fruits and vegetables will drive away the constant hunger.
To enhance the genetically slow metabolism of the Endomorphs, they need to divide their day’s caloric intake into 5-6 smaller meals rather than 2-3 heavy meals. Drinking plenty of water helps in feeling full.
Exercise Routine For Endomorph
Endomorphs can begin their weight lifting at higher intensities. The trick for Endomorphs is to burn fat and preserve lean muscle. HIIT is the best way to do that.
They need to lift heavy weight because lifting small weights is not going to do the trick for them. Working on cardio fetches the maximum benefits as the main objective is to burn calories.
15+ repetitions are recommended and so is a 30-45 second rest between sets. Compound lifts help in burning more calories.
Fast paced walking on a treadmill and step class exercises are necessary to help lose weight. Also, the imperative is high-intensity cardio for 20 minutes, at least twice a week.
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Having discussed all the body types, it must be mentioned that very few people clearly fall in one of the above categories. We are often a mix of all the body above types, which means that we require an in-depth knowledge of our bodies to assess what works for us.
Also, it is essential to have realistic expectations from our bodies, meaning that Ectomorphs should not aspire to be a sumo wrestler and neither should an Endomorph try to look like Kate Moss.
Besides, one must remember that we are not condemned to look a certain way just because of our genetics. It is very likely that with the right diet plan and training, we can all hit our fitness goals, whatever they may be.
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