What is eating for your body type?
Many people think that “body type” just describes the way someone looks. In fact, your body type can also provide information about how you respond to food intake and about your hormonal and sympathetic nervous system (SNS) characteristics.
Physique characteristics can be linked to metabolic differences between individuals. Once someone establishes their body type, they can then adjust nutrient intake to maximize body composition and health related goals.
There are three general categories of body types (somatotypes): ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.
Very few people fall perfectly into one of the three categories. People are often a mix of characteristics. Additionally, years of training and good nutrition can change the outward appearance of one’s body.
For instance, a bodybuilder might be mistaken for a “natural” mesomorph when in fact, s/he is really an endomorph who’s trained and dieted hard; or an ectomorph who’s spent years eating well and lifting heavy.
An ectomorph who’s gained a little weight around the middle from a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition might assume they’re more endomorphic.
However, most folks fall in one of the three groups.
Ectomorphs are thin individuals characterized by smaller bone structures and thinner limbs. Think of a typical endurance athlete. This profile is linked to a fast metabolic rate and a high carbohydrate tolerance.
This group generally does best with more carbohydrates in the diet, along with a moderate protein and lower fat intake. A nutrient distribution for this body type would ideally be around 55% carbs, 30% protein, and 15% fat.
Mesomorphs typically do best on a mixed diet, consisting of balanced carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. A macronutrient split of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 30% fat can work well.
Endomorphs have a larger bone structure with higher amounts of total body mass and fat mass. They tend to be insulin dominant. This profile leads to a greater propensity for energy storage, including both lean mass and fat mass. This can also mean a lower carbohydrate tolerance.
Endomorphs typically do best on a higher fat and protein intake with carbohydrate intake being controlled and properly timed (e.g., after exercise). Their ideal intake might look like 25% carbs, 40% protein, and 35% fat.
High carb tolerance
If you’re the very carb tolerant type, eating a greater percentage of high carb foods outside the workout window will likely be just fine for you. This means eating more carbs all throughout the day. You should, of course, still get more carbs during/post workout than any other time of the day. Just think more carbs after workouts and less carbs at other times. Remember that as carb intake increases, fat intake decreases.
Moderate carb tolerance
If you have moderate carb tolerance, you should likely minimize high carb/starchy carb foods outside the workout window — except, perhaps, after an overnight fast (think: breakfast). This means you’d try eating some higher carb/starchy carb foods in the AM as well as during/post exercise. The rest of the meals would consist of less dense carb foods and more lean proteins, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Low carb tolerance
If you’re not very carb tolerant, your best bet is to avoid high carb/starchy carb foods outside the workout window (including breakfast). This means only veggies and fruits outside the workout window (along with proteins and fats).