Body types are always the rage. There are more ‘train for your body type’ and ‘eat for your body type’ videos than ever.
It gets confusing fast – and we’re here to help:
- Does your body type matter?
- What does body type mean for your diet?
- How do you control body type?
- How do you even know what body type you have?
We’re going to clear up all of these significant points. We’ll be discussing macros and body type and then how you can be smarter about your lifestyle for results.
Understanding body type and macronutrients
When discussing body types, the first thing to remember is that they’re short-hand. They’re ways of thinking about bodies. They aren’t a binding category. You’re not one type forever – they’re the result of genetics and behavior.
The three body types that are often discussed are
With the idea that people fit into each of these categories. This is often used in the fitness industry to classify and prescribe. There’s a lot of pseudoscience, though. What’s a myth and what’s real?
Defining Macronutrients for Body Type
There are usually 3 ‘somatotypes’ we discussed. There’s a classic ‘traditional’ view of what they mean for each one – and then the science.
We will discuss both because they’re interesting and clear up old misconceptions. It also helps clear up some of the misinformation out there. If you know what it means, you aren’t at risk of the same confusion as everyone else!
Endomorphs: size and body fat
Endomorphs are bigger people.
Endomorphy is just a measure of body fat – either as a percentage or relative to height. It’s why we use body fat %.
In the old bodybuilding sense, these people are naturally broad. That means wider hips and shoulders. They often have larger bone structures. Endomorphs also find it easy to gain weight and hard to lose it – both in fat and muscle.
These people typically look to control weight, maximize muscle, and get leaner. This can be an uphill struggle for some.
Mesomorphs: goals and the ‘ideal’ balance
Mesomorphs are very ‘athletic’ looking.
They have a good V-taper with moderate hips and shoulders. They’re often envied for being a mix of good proportions and being ‘naturally muscular.’ These bodies come from sporting history, especially in childhood and teens.
Mesomorphy is particularly defined as the amount of muscle mass relative to height. We measure this with “FFMI” – fat-free mass index. This is why mesomorphs look athletic and perform well.
Mesomorphs are our “normal,” with a balanced set of needs. Most diets and training plans are built for these people. They’re the average or regular, without any extremes, because their metabolic and dietary needs are well-regulated by the additional muscle mass and exercise.
Ectomorphs: weight, BMI, and undereating
Ectomorphs are defined by being thinner.
They’re “naturally thin.” They also struggle to put on quality weight. Most “hardgainers” fall into this category. They may have lean mass – but not much of it. Skinny limbs, in particular, make ectomorphs look ‘long.’
People in the ectomorph category usually need to gain weight. They find it easy to get lean but hard to get big. They’re also often underweight or nutrient deficient. These come with their health risks and problems.
Ectomorphy is neither of the former categories: it’s the lack of weight per height. It’s low BMI, which often makes them look small. Many people are ectomorphs by weight, not by bone structure, and just need to eat more.
This means that ectomorphs aren’t just thin – they’re often ‘skinny fat.’ Low in muscle and normal body mass, but high in body fat
The important lesson about ‘body types’
You might notice that all 3 of these categories are under your control. Far from being genetic, somatotype categories are the result of behavior. You can gain or lose fat – you can gain or lose muscle mass.
Body types may be helpful in understanding where you’re at, but they’re not a death sentence. They don’t decide what you’ll look like forever. This is most obvious in ectomorphs and endomorphs, where body type often explains how a physique looks.
Physiques – and performance – change with lifestyle. Training and diet are the main components in how you look and perform. This doesn’t change because you have wide hips – which are often helpful for sports performance.
The way people talk about these categories usually misses the point. In bodybuilding circles, it’s often a discussion of proportions. The relation of the hips to the waist and shoulders is one example. Mesomorphs are typically ‘athletic,’ with a strong V-taper from the hips to the shoulders.
Lifestyle is the most important.
The things that define these three categories are levers that you control. When it comes to changing your physique, diet is critical. We’re looking at the macronutrients for body types because they’re the main change most people make.
Controlling your macros is key to changing between the different body type ‘categories’ and being appropriate to your own needs.
Macronutrients and body type
Macros make up your calorie intake. We don’t want to bang on about calories – but they’re essential. How many calories you eat is the source for your weight.
Calories: gain and lose weight for body type
The amount you weigh is key to body types. The first step is understanding that calories control your weight. Ectomorphs are skinny because they don’t eat enough calories to gain weight. Equally, the muscle of mesomorphs and the fat of endomorphs are calorie-driven.
Energy balance – your calorie intake vs. needs – determines weight. It drives the weight gain or loss we’re discussing. On the other hand, Macros defines that weight, which makes up whether you become an ‘endomorph’ or ‘mesomorph.’
Protein: the key to lean mass and body composition
The essential nutrient for your body type is protein. It’s straightforward: protein reduces endomorphy and promotes mesomorphy. Protein helps burn fat, build muscle, and improve athleticism. High-protein diets already put you on the road to being a mesomorph.
On the other hand, poor protein intake can relegate you to ectomorphy or endomorphy. Low protein diets promote breakdown, poor appetite control, and fat build-up. This means poor hormonal health, difficulty burning fat, and poor exercise.
You should get at least a moderate protein intake. More protein is usually better, all things being equal.
This is why endomorphs complain of being unable to lose weight: they have low muscle mass. Typically, high-fat, low-muscle bodies and poor protein intake produce slow metabolism. This makes it ‘sticky’ – it’s hard to change a body that isn’t working properly.
Ectomorphs need plenty of protein to trigger muscle growth. It’s the key to building muscle – even on a calorie surplus. Exercise and protein turn fat-gain diets into muscle-gain diets, perfect for ectomorphs.
Mesomorphs have higher protein needs, but only because they’re already muscular. The upkeep of muscles is expensive in calories and protein. The reward is looking and performing better and having a faster, healthier metabolism.
Carbs: gain muscle and fuel performance
Carbohydrates are the currency of energy balance. You gain and lose weight with your adjusted carb balance. This is why it’s a significant factor – for opposite reasons – for ectomorphs and endomorphs.
Ectomorphs need to use carbs to drive better muscle growth and weight gain. Carbs are secondary to protein in the muscle-building process. They provide the energy which the muscles use to grow and develop.
On the other hand, endomorphs typically need to use carbs to reduce calorie intake. This allows them to lose excess body fat. This doesn’t mean low-carb, ketogenic type dieting. It means lowering carbs to lower overall calorie intake to a healthy level but burns fat.
Many extreme endomorphs also have low carbohydrate tolerance. They need to build lean muscle but may have poor carb metabolism. Good macro ratios reduce carbs and improve protein.
For mesomorphs, the goal of carbs is just to balance out energy input and output. Muscles cost calorie energy – and carbs are the source. Carbs are stored in the muscles (75%) and liver (25%). The muscles, which make a mesomorph, depend on carb intake to function, repair, and grow.
Performance for all body types depends on carb supply. It means, specifically, better workouts. That’s why we use carbs based on activity levels. More activity? More carbs!
Fats: health beyond body weight
Fats are the least important of the nutrients. They’re essential for hormonal health but don’t have the same role in body type change.
While key for health, the important thing for fats is observing the basics:
1. Get enough fats to maintain wellbeing – a small percent of daily calories
2. Select for high quality, no matter your body type
The best quality fats are typically the unsaturated kinds found in olive oil and seafood. Eggs, cultured dairy, and some vegetables (avocado, e.g.) are also good fat sources.
Endomorphs and ectomorphs are typically on opposite sides of fats. Endomorphs often overeat on low-quality fats, while ectomorphs neglect them all. This produces a severe hole in the calorie intake of ectomorphs and a surplus for endomorphs. These also reflect in the health and hormonal profile of these body types.
How to Eat for Your Body Type
So, how do you change your diet to make it fit your body type? There are a few simple approaches we can recommend that help people get in shape, improve their results, and support personalized health.
Macros for Endomorphs
This is for people with higher bodyfat, looking to get leaner and more athletic. The idea is that you can support a slight calorie deficit while you build muscle and lose fat – also known as recomposition.
You should eat high-protein diets to provide better ‘fullness’. This also drives better muscle growth. It means you won’t lose muscle as easily while dieting down. That means a more athletic physique when the fat comes off.
Carbs and fats can both be lowered since you’ve got plenty of energy and protein. Our breakdown for endomorphs looks something like this:
Calories: 90-95% of your TDEE every day, maintaining a small deficit to burn fat.
Protein: 30-40% of calories
Carbs: 40-50% of calories (from high-satiety sources like whole grains, beans, and pulses.)
Fats: 10-20% of calories (from high-quality sources like seafood, eggs, and cultured dairy, or veg)
Macros for Mesomorphs
Mesomorphs are in a good place and don’t need any crazy changes. Typically, these bodytypes suit a good lean bulk. Simply gain weight at a healthy pace, nice and slowly, while staying lean.
The goal is to keep building muscle and performance while maintaining the composition. That means creeping up your strength levels without adding too much fat. The macros are very ‘normal’ – because mesomorphs usually don’t need “problem solving” diets!
Calories: 100-105% of your TDEE
Protein: 40% of calories
Carbs: 45% of calories (more carbs for more activity, and closer to exercise times)
Fats: 15% of calories (from seafood, olives, avocado, eggs, and cultured dairy)
Macros for Ectomorphs
Ectomorphs just need to eat more. These are skinny, low-fat, low-muscle people. That means the goal of a diet is to build more muscle, and even a little fat (if extremely light).
This means the diet focuses heavily on calories and protein.
Carbs and fats revolve around activity levels. You should always be exercising, no matter your goal. For ectomorphs, that means more weight training and not as much cardio – you don’t want to burn those extra calories.
Ectomorphs just need to commit to eating big. It can be difficult, but just be patient and eat at a sustainable “weight gain” level.
Calories: 110-120% of your TDEE
Protein: 30-40% of calories (from high-fat sources like chicken thigh, venison, lamb, etc.)
Carbs: 50% of calories (from simple starches like potato, white rice, root vegetables, and pasta)
Fat: 10-20% of calories (from eggs, cultured dairy, milk, animal foods, and olives/avocado)
Closing remarks: body type eating and macronutrients
Body types are the result of several factors. You need to consider what type of body you have and how it affects your habits. It’s about lining up where you are with where you want to be. A person’s somatotype is important for understanding their goals and needs.
You just need to remember:
Your body type is the result of how you live. Your body just uses the resources you give it to adapt to the challenges you put it through. Exercise and diet are the driving factors behind which ‘category’ you find yourself in.
When you’re specific to your personal needs, you can get many benefits from simple changes. You don’t need to get too complicated to see great results. Focus on the role macros play in your diet, how you balance them up, and how they lead you to those goals.
Balancing carbs, protein, and fats isn’t too complicated. Use carbs for your activity levels, protein to drive recovery and fullness, and fats to support hormonal health. Putting them in the right places for your needs is all it takes to kickstart your results.
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