May 12, 2013 – Introduction To Body Types
Let me preface this blog, and every blog that follows, by saying that there is no “one right answer” when it comes to nutrition and fitness. There are multiple ways to achieve your ideal body. The advice from one nutrition and fitness expert can work very well for you. Does that mean the advice from every other nutrition and fitness expert is wrong? The answer is, of course it doesn’t. The truth is there are multiple “correct” ways to reach your ideal body and maintain it. This blog, and the suggestions that are made within it, in no way disqualify other advice as “wrong” or “bad”. Just as there are “many ways to skin a cat” –there are also many ways to reach your ideal body. Finding what works for you that you can also HAPPILY MAINTAIN long term – a lifestyle change where you can enjoy your food and workout a reasonable amount – is the key.
That being said, there are some fundamental truths that all nutrition and weight loss plans must revolve around in order to work. One of these fundamental truths is that:
You must eat and workout to fit your specific body type.
When it comes to what you eat and how you work out, one size does not fit all. It is imperative that you understand what your body type is and eat and work out accordingly. Failure to do this means that you are likely training and eating the wrong way for your body. It also means that the workouts you are doing may be making your body look worse, not better. Failure to recognize your body type and eat and workout accordingly is truly setting yourself up for failure right from the outset.
Many people in a lot of areas of life confuse activity with accomplishment. When it comes to reaching and maintaining your ideal body, this is most definitely a trap that many people unwittingly fall into. Just because you are doing “something” like “going to the gym five days a week”, that does not mean that “going to the gym five days a week” is going to lead to you accomplishing your goals. Activity does not necessarily equate to accomplishment – especially in the world of nutrition and fitness where you need a high level of education to achieve your ideal body unless you are genetically gifted with an incredible metabolism.
This is particularly true for the millions of people who work out 3, to 5 times per week and “think” they are eating right – “I get my protein, man” – but their body never seems to improve. Week after week, month after month, they do the same thing in the gym but their body doesn’t respond and look better. Millions of people put in a lot of time and effort in the gym and with their diets and don’t get anywhere near the ideal body. I know, because I was stuck on this merry-go-round of working my butt off in the gym and getting nowhere for a long, long time. I was not working out and eating to suit my body type. Even worse – I had personal trainers who I was paying to guide me that were not telling me to eat and work out for my body type. Many people reading this blog, unfortunately, have fallen into this same trap. Do not believe everything you read and be very careful where you get your information from.
Ectomorphs, Mesomorphs and Endomorphs
Following is a discussion of the three primary body types and how those body types directly influence the way you are supposed to eat and workout. This is one of the fundamental truths that you MUST understand if you want to get your best body without making incredible sacrifices with your food and killing yourself in the gym doing mostly two a days. Knowing this information allows you to do things smart for you body type and not “push the apple cart up hill” from day one.
In the 1940’s psychologist William Sheldon identified the three primary body types. These classifications are still recognized today by modern science and are used as a means to identify the different body types of both men and women. The classifications are:
- Ectomorph (skinny and lean)
- Mesomorh (muscular and lean)
- Endomorh (soft and round)
We will go into more detail later in this blog on the various body types, but to put it very simply:
- Ectomorphs have a lean and skinny body type
- Mesomorphs have a muscular and lean body type
- Endomorphs have a soft and rounded body type
When judging yourself against these images, it’s important to realize that these scales refer to how you body is NATURALLY when you are not working out and dieting. These are not references to what your body looks like now if you have been dieting and exercising, but what your body would revert to naturally if you cease watching what you put in your mouth and exercising. Notice how I always mention, “what you put in your mouth” before I mention exercise. I do this intentionally, because what you put in your mouth is 70%+ of how your body ends up looking. Nutrition is more important than exercise when it comes to specifically how your body looks. How your body performs athletically is a whole different topic and beyond the scope of this blog or my area or knowledge. We are not directing this blog to professional athletes who are interested in athletic performance, we are directing this blog to every day people who are concerned with how their body looks.
So when judging whether you are Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph think about what your body’s natural state is. What it is like when you are not exercising and/or dieting or what your body would revert to if you stopped watching what food you eat and stopped working out. Judging your body type based on what you would look like if you STOPPED all efforts to manipulate your weight is a very good way of telling what your body type is. So, what sort of body type do you naturally have?
Common Traits of An Ectomorph (Lean and Skinny)
Ectomorphs are naturally lean and skinny. They almost never have trouble with excess body fat over their entire lives. If you think of a woman with a “runway model” body who has never worked out and eats whatever she wants, that is a classic example of an ectomorph. Or if you think of a champion marathon runner or triathlete – you have a classic ectomorph body type. Ectomorphs appear long and thin, with smaller joints and a small waist. Their bone structure is thin. Ectomorphs have very fast natural metabolisms, they burn off excess energy that is ingested by food naturally without the need to work out. It is very difficult for Ectomorphs to put on weight – either muscle or fat.
Being an ectomorph as a women is rarely a problem – as it means you are tall and skinny and have a runway model body. However, some women who are natural ectomorphs may want to, for example, plump up their asses to make themselves more curvy. We will be discussing in future blogs how to eat and workout if you are an ectomorph wanting to put on muscle mass. It’s challenging but most defiantly can be done with the right food, calorie surplus and proper training (all discussed in later blogs).
However, being an ectomorph as a man can be a problem. Ectomorph men have long skinny frames, and it’s common for men to wish to be more muscular and athletic looking. The only downside to being an ectomorph is that it is very difficult for this body type to gain muscle mass. As such, male ectomorphs can work out and eat like crazy and still find it difficult to build an athletic, muscular looking physique. Many male ectomorphs begin weight training in order to “fill out” their “skinny” bodies. The reality is, if you are a true male ectomorph, it can take months and years of hard weight training and heavy eating to overcome this body type and look more muscular and athletic.
For all the guys reading this blog – from a women’s perspective, our primary concern is that our man is lean – so if you are a male ectomorph who finds it very difficult to put on either muscle or fat – be happy and appreciate the luxury that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want and still stay lean. I will, however, in later blogs explain the diet and exercise program necessary for an ectomorph to put on muscle mass. It’s a challenge for either an ectomorph woman or man to put on significant muscle mass. However you have one secret weapon – you never have a layer of fat to cover the muscle you do build. So any muscle gains are instantly noticeable without cutting body fat. For an ectomorph, small gains in muscle mass make a big visual difference.
Common Characteristics of ectomorphs include:
- Long limbs
- Small waist
- Narrow shoulders
- Small joints “small boned”
- Naturally lean with low levels of body fat
- Very fast metabolism
- Can eat what they want and stay lean
- High energy levels
Mesomorphs are naturally muscular and lean with small waists, wide shoulders, medium sized joints and large round muscles. Mesomorphs are natural born athletes and looked great in shorts or a bikini before they ever started manipulating their diets and working out. If you look at the UFC’s GSP, Uriah Faber, Cheik Congo or at the starting block of the 100 meter sprint at the Olympic Games – you will see what a true Mesomorph looks like. They are muscular, lean, vascular, very athletic and have the ideal body that most men aspire to (and most women admire). True mesomorphs are the body type that the rest of us “love to hate” as they gain muscle and lose fat easily and always look “in shape”.
If you are a true, pure mesomorph, you are VERY RARE and GENETICALLY GIFTED and will look great no matter how you eat or train. If you want to get bigger, lift some weights. If you want to burn a little fat, do more cardio. Eat basically whatever you like, or cut back on your simple and complex carbs slightly and watch the pounds just drop off. Basically – you can do no wrong as you are a genetic freak. Enjoy, and we are all jealous of your god given metabolisms.
Characteristics of Mesomorphs:
- Naturally ripped and athletic
- Medium joint size
- Small waists
- Broad shoulders
- Lean, toned and athletic looking
Endomorphs are soft and round body types with medium or large joints. They generally have sluggish metabolisms and store fat easily. Endomorphs have a very hard time losing fat with diet alone – for a true, pure endomorph it’s virtually impossible. Endomorphs also have a very hard time losing fat with weight training alone. Endomorphs need cardio training on top of watching what goes in their mouth in order to lose body fat. Endomorphs are naturallycarbohydrate intolerant – meaning carbohydrates are likely to be stored as fat, rather than burnt as fuel in their bodies. If you are unhappy with your body, it is highly likely that you are a pure endomorph or are a combination mesomorph / endomorph.
The good news is, I am a combination mesomorph / endomorph. And through the information that I will present in this blog on both nutrition and exercise I am going to show you exactly how to live a happy and fulfilling life in terms of what you eat and how you workout – and still look great! There is absolutely no reason that if you are a pure endomorph or a combination mesomorph / endomorph and you follow the advice in this blog you cannot reach and maintain your ideal body – without being on an endless restrictive “diet’ and killing yourself in the gym.
It is this body type that really has to eat smart and workout smart if you want to both enjoy your life and look great. Sure, you can eat chicken breast and broccoli 6 times a day with a 300 to 600 calorie deficit daily (more on this in a later Blog), do an hour of cardio 6 days per week and weight training three days per week, and get your ideal body – but that is impossible to keep up every day for the rest of your life and will most likely take over every other aspect of your life that you actually enjoy. The result – you end up lean, but so restricted and miserable. You start eating and living again like you always used to and BAM! You body puts back on all the weight. Losing the weight is not worth it if it restricts you so violently that it ruins all the enjoyable aspects of your life. Losing weight is a waste of time if the program you are on cannot be HAPPILY MAINTAINED AS A LIFESTYLE.
Most people who are wholly or partially endomorphic are genetically born this way. Alternatively, your endomorphism could be grossly exaggerated due to weight gain from a lifetime of eating heavily processed carbohydrates that have gradually worked their way into becoming staples of the American diet. These foods laden with process carbohydrates (sugars, high fructose corn syrup, white flour etc etc. etc. ) are destroying your metabolism and making you FAT. The processed nature of modern carbohydrates used in the food industry and the hundreds of chemical additives that most people eat each day are unknowingly causing more and more people’s metabolism and hormones to resemble that of an endomorphic body type (more on this in a later Blog). Many endomorphs (including the people reading this Blog) are on an unconscious insulin driven carbohydrate binge that is making them gain more and more weight and eat more and more food.
When you consume food that is full of high glycemic carbohydrates (simple or highly processed carbohydrates: for example sugar or flour) these simple sugars break down very, very quickly in the body. In order to metabolize these unnaturally high levels of sugar in your body, your body then produces large amounts of insulin (an “insulin spike”), the insulin then stores the carbohydrates as body fat (that’s one of the hormone’s primary roles in the body) and after the sugars are metabolized the body then enters a state of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). In order to combat the now low levels of blood sugar in the body, the brain produces a signal craving for more high glycemic carbohydrates!!! You have now entered into a never-ending cycle of insulin highs and lows – the only remedy for which is to consume more sugar which then gets stored as more body fat!!!
If you are learning this information for the first time, or didn’t fully understand the cycle that was described in the paragraph above – go back and read it again. It is that important. This viscous cycle is then repeated over and over and you gain more and more weight each time just by satisfying what you think is your “hunger” (it’s really an insulin driven response, you’re not really “hungry”, more on this in a later blog). This is a huge weight and health issue for everyone, but particularly those with endomorphic body types who are genetically carbohydrate intolerant to begin with. If you have endomorphic traits, this cycle is likely the primary cause of your weight gain.
You may look in the mirror and think you are a natural endomorph, when the reality is actually that you are more likely a mesomorph / endomorph. Were you skinny as a child but then something changed? The reality is that unless you are really educated and conscious of what you put into your mouth, or genetically gifted– the food around you that is easy and convenient is so overly processed, full of high glycemic carbohydrates and causes this horrible cycle of hunger, insulin spike, fat storage then hunger again. This is the reason we as a country are getting increasingly morbidly obese and 25% of Americans will now develop “Metabolic Syndrome” (Google it). This is a sad and sobering reality of just how bad things really are in the modern food industry. The reality is that your metabolism may be under such duress from a lifetime of processed foods that you don’t even know what your true body type is. You may be much more mesomorphic (athletic) than you think. Scary. But true. And likely applicable to the majority of people reading this blog.
Rest assured, if you fit into this category and have endomorphic traits – so do I – and I have the answers that have worked for me and they can work for you too!!!
Combination Body Types
Is it also important to understand that virtually no one is just one of these body types. The reality is that most people are a combination of two of the three body types above.
To give you some examples, a combination mesomorphic (athletic) / endomorphic (heavy) body type would be someone who gains muscle easily, but also tends to gain fat easily. Someone that has a lot of muscularity and is more often than not covered with a layer of fat is a mesomorph / endormorth. Most UFC Heavyweights (most, not all) are this body type. Roy Nelson is a good example of an amazing, gifted athlete who has a mesomorph / endomorth body type (and is not afraid to show it off!)
Another example of a combination body type is an ectomorph (skinny and tall) / mesomorph (athletic). This body type is typically very lean with significant muscle on a tall frame. Basketball players are great examples of this combination body type. Tall and lean but with significant muscle mass. Someone like the UFC’s Jon Jones or Anderson Silva is probably also a good example of this body type. Interestingly, the greatest fighters of all time are not straight mesomorphs (like gymnasts, sprinters or most Olympic level wrestlers) but are ectomorph / mesomorphs. The lanky, muscular body type certainly holds it’s advantages in MMA.
In all likelihood, you too are a combination of two of these three body types. You will be predominantly one type with tendencies leaning toward the other. Personally, I am a mesomorth / endormorph. I have a naturally athletic body, can gain muscle very easily and if my nutrition and exercise are not right I can also put on fat very easily. You should figure out what body type you are from the descriptions above. You must must must must eat and workout to cater for your body type. Otherwise you are confusing activity with accomplishment and will likely never get the results you are looking for. You are fighting a losing battle right from the start.
How To Eat and Workout For Your Body Type
Now that you know how to identify what type of body you have, you now need to know how to eat and train for your body type. Each individual person has a different calorific need (we don’t count calories but we are aware of them) and every body type requires a different macronutrient ratio (ratio of calories from protein, carbohydrate and fat). Each body type requires a different training program in regards to cardio vs. weights. Each body type requires different supplements to overcome it’s own genetic limitations. You can see that one size truly doesn’t fit all.
For example, you should already begin to see from reading this blog that if you are endomorphic, eat a diet high in carbohydrates and lift heavy weights five times a week – it’s going to make your body look worse. You are going to add more muscle and more fat to an already bulky frame. This is going to make you look SOFTER, WIDER and HEAVIER. You should now be getting a picture of where this blog is headed.
This naturally endomorphic body type should be focusing on getting into a slight calorific deficit (more on this in later blogs), cutting right back on carbohydrates (more on this in later blogs), ONLY eating low glycemic carbs (more on this in later blogs), possibly nutrient timing so these carbohydrates are consumed primarily in the 45 minute window post workout (more on this in later blogs), increasing healthy fats (more on this in later blogs), eating foods that improve insulin sensitivity (more on this in later blogs) and doing cardio based workouts (more on this in later blogs). These are all small changes that primarily effect the food that goes into your mouth. You can still eat lots of great, healthy food (like I do), but it’s got to be right for your body.
The endomorph will never, ever, ever be “ripped” without doing this unless you go on an extremely restrictive diet and exercise program and sacrifice the rest of your life for your body. The choice is yours – do you want to do it hard or do you want to do it smart? This blog is about doing it smart. Doing it smart means eating lots of good, tasty food that is right for your body type and working out 3 to 5 times per week in the right way for your body type. Pretty simple.
The above example of the endomorph lifting weights five times per week and getting no where (or making him/herself look worse and more bulky) is a perfect example of what NOT to do. However, millions of people go to the gym and do exactly this five times a week and wonder why they never get “ripped”! They are doing completely the wrong things for their body type and are confusing activity with accomplishment! Those bench presses are not cutting the fat on your chest (there is no such thing as exercise induced site specific fat loss – more on this in a later blog) they are increasing the muscle size of your chest which is pushing the layer of fat on your chest further out! The bench presses are making you look worse, not better!!! For women with endomorphic tendencies: those leg exercises you are doing are not decreasing the pockets of fat on your inner and outer thighs (there is no such thing as exercise induced site specific fat loss – more on this in a later blog) they are increasing the muscle size in your legs and pushing the layer of fat on your thighs further out! The weighted thigh exercises you do are increasing your “saddle bags”, not decreasing them – they are pushing them further out!!!
Never confuse activity with accomplishment. Get smart and educated before you put in the hours and hours in the gym doing the wrong thing, barking up the wrong tree and then getting discouraged and giving up because of your “bad genes”. You don’t have “bad genes” – you just do not understand how to play the genetic hand you were dealt. You can get your ideal body, but you have to have to do it smart!!!
Again, most of you reading this who are unhappy with how they look will be endomorphic or a combination that contains endomorphic traits. This is what I am. This is what virtually everyone is who “wants to lose a few pounds” (women) or “wants to get buffed and ripped” (men, although some could be ectomorphic also). This is really who this blog is written for. There is a very simple nutrition and exercise regime that has worked for me over the last year to completely change my body, to where I now look purely Mesomorph – even though that is not what my natural body type is. I know with some smart and enjoyable eating habits and some smart exercise, you can get here too. Trust me, it’s a simple and easily sustainable lifestyle choice that will actually become an enjoyable part of your everyday routine. And the gratitude every day will be staring into the mirror and seeing the pounds drop off and thinking “this is easy and livable – why haven’t I been doing this all along?”…
In future blogs we will get into specifics on what to eat for your body type, how to train for your body type, how many calories to consume (ballpark, we don’t count calories), the ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat for your body type, the classification of carbohydrates with the Glycemic Index, good fats vs. bad fats and how good fats MAKE YOU LOSE WEIGHT, nutrient timing, improving insulin sensitivity and so much more that will put all the pieces together! Also, if you are Ectomorphic there are many, many things you can do to give your metabolism a kick start to increase your basal metabolic rate and speed up results! These are all small things that make minimal impact on your life, but make a big difference to your weight. Stay tuned for future blogs, there is so much more good information to discuss.
*** For those who are fired up and want to start NOW *** Start with this. If you have body fat – cut out the sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup and all other sugars COMPLETLEY FROM YOUR DIET. This means reading the back of every food label and if has a number under “Sugars”, putting it back on the shelf. It is garbage and is making you FAT due to the never-ending insulin high roller coaster.
Eliminate sugar completely– no processed sugar whatsoever. A little fructose from fruit is OK – but preferably in maintenance mode once you have reached your ideal weight – not while you are trying to burn away the body fat. So avoid the fruit for a month or two preferably. Except for berries. Leave in the berries (blueberries especially). But just a handful per day maximum and preferably in the 45-minute window post workout where your body needs some insulin to blunt the catabolic effects of cortisone brought on by intense exercise (more on this in a later blog). We’ll talk about berries in a future blog too. They have miraculous weight loss and health benefits.
If you have sugar cravings, because you are likely ADDICTED to the insulin highs and lows, have artificially sweetened soda or candy for now to get you over the hump. That is a vital place to START. Sugar and processed carbohydrates are “ENEMY NUMBER 1” of the endomorphic or mesomorphic / endomorphic body type. Cut processed sugars out of your diet completely (except for a weekly cheat meal which actually helps your metabolic rate if you do it right, more on that in a later blog) No more sugar. Period. Double period. The End. Get off the sugar. Now!!!
Get sugars out of your diet, permanently. You will eventually need to get the majority of processed and high glycemic carbohydrates (flour, wheat, pasta, corn, rice etc) out of your diet, but that may be too much all at once – so aim for just the sugar right now. From now on, if you want to be serious about this, you just simply do not eat simple sugars anymore. It is garbage; it is making you and everyone else sick, tired and making you FAT. If you want some added motivation Google “Metabolic Syndrome” which now effects 25% of the population and is directly related to the effects of long-term simple carbohydrate abuse (i.e: the typical American diet).
1 out of 4 people reading this Blog will end up with “Metabolic Syndrome” because of how much processed and simple carbohydrates are in the average American diet. That is a staggeringly sobering number that we, as a nation, are headed toward chronic morbid obesity. But it is reality. Once you get these sugars (including processed and high glycemic grains) out of your diet and you eat a high carb / sugar meal – you will literally feel sick from the insulin high and low. You can feel the sugar high, the crash and then the craving for more high glycemic carbs. You don’t realize this until you GET THE SUGARS OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM AND GET OFF THE INSULIN ROLLER COASTER. Get that done right away and then follow along over the next couple of weeks as we put the rest of the pieces in place.
So much more to follow. Glad you’re with me.