Do our body types play a role in how we should diet? The answer may surprise you.
It’s one-part art form, one-part gamble, and one-part science. Some of us live on a diet, others diet to reach a certain number on the scale or to see a specific change in the mirror. There are loads of dieting research and information available online, but how do you know what’s right for you? It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of variation that’s out there, and people often get inundated and just give up because of it. Let’s start with the basics, and identify where to begin based on our unique body types.
For the most part, there are three main body types: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph.
You may share some traits between two or all three of them, but we all predominately fall under one category or another.
Your diet and routine should be structured to accommodate whichever of those three primary classifications under which you fall. Here’s a simple breakdown of each grouping and some general rules to try and follow:
Ectomorphs – Being an ectomorph has its ups and downs. So much of society is overweight, or even obese, and at risk for a long list of weight-related diseases. But not ectomorphs! You’re just skinny. Sometimes frustratingly so. Feel like you can eat whatever you want and not gain a pound? Well, your metabolism runs quicker than the other body types. Ectomorphs should avoid just straight cardio, as doing most any physical activity (strength/resistance training) will likely keep your heart rate high enough to burn fat without burning muscle in the process. Your diet? Eat as much as you want. In fact, it’ll probably feel like WORK to eat enough each day. Work out slowly with heavy weights, and eat, eat, eat.
Mesomorphs – If you were born with what amounts to an athletic physique, you’re likely a mesomorph. You pretty much fall in that sweet spot where your body responds well to weight training, dieting, and if you take a break from all of it, you don’t immediately turn into a giant blob. Developing a healthy physique tends to come naturally. Find a healthy balance between cardio and weights and let your body yield natural results. Don’t go out of your way to eat terribly all of the time either; just make smart food choices, and your body will metabolize it efficiently.
Endomorphs – Some consider it a blessing to carry size (mass) naturally and just generally be stronger from it too. The challenge starts when an Endomorph wants to get lean and chisel out some definition on their frame. Endomorphs tend to gain weight easily and naturally store more fat, thanks in part to a slower metabolism (fun fact – talking about myself here!). Like it or not, cardio, fast-paced interval workouts, and a strict diet are all going to play a role when an Endomorph wants to lose weight. Keep close track of your calories (lean proteins, healthy fats, and limit the carbs) and prepare to sweat it out each day you train to see the best results.
There’s nothing wrong with Googling-up a diet and workout routine for yourself. Most cookie-cutter programs offer practical information that, if applied correctly, can help the majority of people on their fitness journey. Just be aware of what sort of diet and exercise your body responds to the best. If whatever you’ve done in the past doesn’t work? Mix it up. Find your recipe for success and tailor your program accordingly to get the most out of all your hard work!
Let’s be real. Getting into the gym can be tough. There’s time commitments, financial commitments, dieting commitments, motivational commitments, etc. Even the effort it takes to simply move the weights or sweat it out on the treadmill is a huge consideration to make. But, once you’ve gotten yourself to a place mentally where you’re ready for all the effort, now what?
I couldn’t tell you the number of people I’ve seen firsthand that just float around the gym, aimlessly moving from machine to machine without an actual sense of purpose. Is that to say they’re wasting their time? Well, no, not quite. But are they making the most of the time they’re putting in? Absolutely not. Would an Army General march into battle without a plan? Would a coach in the Super Bowl wake up on game day and say to himself, “Meh, let’s just WING IT!”. Not a chance!
Proper preparation is just as critical an ingredient as any other element when committing to a fitness regimen. Here are six things to consider before you hit PLAY on your Gym-Time Playlist:
The rule of thumb is a higher number of reps per set equals a higher heart rate, which tends to burn more fat. Take as little rest as possible between sets (30-60 seconds) so that you can still complete a full set with good form. The inverse is, a lower number of reps keeps the heart rate lower, which allows for less cardiovascular effort and tends to break down and develop more actual muscle. Here, we can allow for 90-120 seconds of rest between sets to fully return our heart rate to a resting level, promoting the maximum muscular effort. Build your routine around those basic guidelines and modify it as you see fit for yourself.
Proper preparation is the difference between a good workout and a GREAT workout. Equip yourself with every tool necessary to give you every possible chance to succeed. Don’t sell yourself short: your own worst enemy is just ignorance. The answers are all out there, and you owe it to yourself to find them and apply them. Take the time to change your life today, and you’ll thank yourself tomorrow.