Nutrition

Eating Right for Your Body Type

Megan Dahlman
March 15, 2022

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Eat Right for Your Body Type

I'm sure it's quite clear to you that we all are uniquely designed individuals. Every single one of us is different. Some of us are tall and slender, short and petite, medium height and muscular, or even tall and thick.

It's obvious for some of us that it doesn't matter what we do or how hard we try, we simply can't change the shape of our bodies. These shapes, our muscle and fat distributions and bone structures, are genetically determined by our Designer.

​But what we may not realize is that no matter what our body shape, we can eat in a way that propels us to our healthiest self and maximizes our body's own design and capabilities. Our eating habits and our training choices do not need to be "one size fits all". Once you understand your own body, you can then make clear healthy habit choices that will help you feel your very best.

But first, the basics.


I need to preface everything that you are about learn with the fact that you must start with the basics. Many people want to jump to "body type eating" before they learn how to eat healthy in general. Think of understanding good healthy eating habits as "Level One", and then eating for your body type as "Level Two".

You may find that following some very simple, broad healthy eating guidelines are enough to feel great and see some physical changes that you desire. I highly recommend that you download this FREE guide first, so you understand good healthy eating habits. And then, if those habits are already in place and you'd like to dial things in even more, eating right for your body type is the natural next step.


​What's your body type?


There are many methods of body typing, and it can become confusing very quickly. You may have heard about blood typing, bone structure typing, hormonal profiling, and more. I prefer the "somatotyping" method because it's simple and very easy to understand. Let's take a closer look...

Somatotypes

You've probably heard these words before: endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph. These refer to general categories of body structure as well as muscle and fat storage and distribution, called somatotypes.

Ectomorph Body Type
The Ectomorph Body Type


​Ectomorph

An ectomorph tends to be naturally thin with skinny limbs. Think of marathon runners. These types of people are more naturally inclined to endurance exercise, have a high metabolism, have an easier time staying thin, have a more petite bone structure, and generally don’t struggle with their weight. They can be tall or short, but are typically slim. Ectomorphs have a harder time building muscle mass.

Healthy ectomorphs are energetic, have incredible endurance due to a high percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers, and have a good body composition with adequate lean muscle mass.

Unhealthy ectomorphs may feel fragile, scrawny, and even "skinny fat". They'll never appear overweight, however their body fat composition can be quite high in comparison to their lean muscle mass.  

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​Mesomorph

Mesomorphs are generally muscular and compact. Think of soccer players, bodybuilders and sprinters. They pack on muscle easily, have a relatively easy time controlling body fat levels, have a medium to large bone structure and tend to be naturally strong. When they slim down, their muscles really “pop”.

Healthy mesomorphs are fast and powerful, extremely athletic, and carry a significant amount of lean muscle mass. Mesomorphs are capable of a very high metabolism and low body fat percentage, but they may have to work for it.

Unhealthy mesomorphs can easily become overweight and feel "chubby". They may lose their muscle mass, causing their metabolism to slow down and begin to behave more like an endomorph's metabolism. In fact, they may believe they're actually a genetic endomorph, when in fact they're simply an unhealthy mesomorph.


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Endomorph

An endomorph is naturally inclined to being broader and thicker, especially in the torso. For endomorph athletes, they excel as powerlifters, football players, and throwers. They typically have a slower metabolism, have a harder time maintaining healthy body fat levels, and carry most of their weight around their midsection. When they lose body fat, they sometimes still feel stout.

A healthy endomorph can become muscular and leaner. However, their muscles may never really "pop" like a mesomorphs can. They can reduce their body fat to a healthy range (18-22% body fat for women), but getting super lean begins to actually feel unhealthy and too difficult. A healthy endomorph will almost always be the strongest in the group.

An unhealthy endomorph can become overweight very easily. Their metabolism can slow down to very dangerous levels, and they can be more at risk for many diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Can you be a combination?

Absolutely. You may find that you don’t really fit into any specific category. You could be ecto-mesomorph, where you are athletic looking yet still on the thin side, especially in your arms and legs. You could also be endo-mesomorph, heavily muscled yet carrying extra body fat around the midsection.

Which one is "best" and can you change your type?


It’s too hard to say that any of these somatotypes are the best. We initially might want to be an ectomorph because they’re thin and don’t struggle with weight, but they also have a hard time being strong and feeling athletically competent. Ectomorphs may hide behind their lean appearance and neglect proper nutrition and physical activity, creating a very unhealthy body on the inside.

A mesomorph type sounds the healthiest, being relatively lean and maintaining muscle mass, but this is a tough one for women, especially. We’ve learned that there isn’t anything glamorous about bulging muscles, so the difficulty with this type is certainly aesthetics. Also, similar to the ectomorph, the mesomorph can “get away” with eating less healthy because their elevated metabolism created by muscle mass will burn off a lot of extra calories. They may have a false sense of health.

​Many will despise the fact that they’re an endomorph, having a very difficult time losing body fat and feeling lean. However, there are many men and women endomorphs who have dialed it all in for their body type and feel powerful, strong and healthy. They may not be petite, but who cares?

Your somatotype can certainly be altered by your lifestyle – how you train and how you eat.

You could be a genetic ectomorph or endomorph, but because you’ve eaten and trained well for years, you begin to resemble more of a mesomorph. Or on the flipside, you may be an ectomorph or mesomorph, but because you’ve neglected a healthy lifestyle your body type begins to look and behave more like an endomorph.

How you should eat.

Ok, so now you should have a good idea of your beautiful design. How have you been built? Are you ecto-, meso-, endo-, or somewhere in between? Instead of loathing and fighting against your own body’s design, let’s work with it, to make it the healthiest it can be.

​Eating recommendations for ectomorphs


Fortunately for you, you probably have a fast metabolic rate and a high carbohydrate tolerance. But for you to feel your absolute best, you need to eat a wide variety of fresh, whole foods. Don't eat junk just because you can get away with it!

Make sure you fuel your body well with a good combination of proteins, fats and carbs. Over half of your diet should consist of healthy carbohydrates, then the other half should be equally divided up between protein and fat.

This means that when you look at your plate, over half of it should be filled with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, then fill the other half up with protein and healthy fat. You can eat a serving of starchier carbohydrates (like whole grains, rice and potatoes) with most meals, and in fact, you'll probably feel best when you do so. When your healthy carbohydrate consumption is low, you might feel lethargic, weak, unmotivated, and have a difficult time maintaining a healthy body weight.

Eating recommendations for mesomorphs

Don’t be ashamed of your muscles! Let's be sure to fuel those muscles well. You most likely have a moderate to high metabolic rate, and you tend to be testosterone and growth hormone dominant, making it much easier for you to build and maintain muscle mass.

​Mesomorphs have a moderate tolerance for carbohydrates, so you can eat one or two servings of starchier carbs per day (whole grains, rice, potatoes, and more sugary fruits). Your overall carbohydrate consumption should not be near what an ectomorph’s is, but approximately 40% of a mesomorph’s diet can be carbohydrates. The rest should be equally divided between lean protein and a variety of healthy fats.

Practically speaking, if you’re a mesomorph, you should be focusing on eating lots of lean protein, fresh vegetables, healthy fats, and some starchier carbohydrates daily. Place one of these "higher carb" meals as close to your workout as possible, and then have just one other meal during the day that includes the starchier carbs.

If you're a mesomorph that's looking to lose body fat and get leaner, try consuming only one serving of starchier carbs per day, preferably at the meal closest to your workout.  

Eating recommendations for endomorphs

As an endomorph, your goal is probably to lose body fat, especially in the central region of your body (abdomen, hips, back). This is a little harder for you, since endomorphs tend to have a slower metabolic rate and may be more insulin dominant (meaning sugars get shuttled into storage quite quickly!). This means that you most likely have low carbohydrate tolerance. You simply won't feel your best if you eat like an ectomorph, or even a mesomorph.

Because of your slower metabolic rate and insulin dominance, you should be more careful with the carbohydrates. The majority of your diet should be fats and proteins (and actually a little more fat than protein, believe it or not!). Only about 25% of your diet should be carbohydrates, and it’s best if the majority of this comes from vegetables.

Starchier carbohydrates (grains, sugars, and even sugary fruits) are going to have a heyday in your body, so limit them as much as possible. Plan to have only one serving of starchier carbohydrates only on a workout day, and preferably at the meal closest to your workout. The rest of your meals should be protein, fats, and vegetables.

Play with it.


These general recommendations are the best place to start. But after a few weeks (2-3 weeks) of consistently eating a particular way, you need to ask yourself if it's working for you.

Do you have enough energy to complete all of your workouts? Try being more intentional with your starchier carbs during that meal closest to your workout.

Are you constantly hungry? Try bumping up the amount of protein and fat you eat with your meals.

Are you struggling to see progress toward your fat loss goals? Be more disciplined with those servings of starchier carbohydrates and try replacing one serving a day with more protein or vegetables.

As you can see, tweaking things could be as simple as adding in or taking out one small serving of starchier carbs per day, or even increasing your protein and fat amount. Be flexible.

Understand that your genetics and all of your habits up to this moment of time have contributed to the way your body behaves. Changes will not occur overnight...it's going to take time and habitual practice.  


Embracing It


I find that it’s enlightening to know my own body’s design. It’s not by mistake, so why should I loathe it?

Personally, I am a solid mesomorph, and my body tolerates one or two servings of the starchier carbs per day fairly well. I've learned to have one serving at breakfast if I've worked out (like a piece of whole grain toast), and then another serving later, usually at dinner (like a cupped handful of quinoa). As soon as I eat something starchy or higher in sugar at more meals than that, I can definitely tell and I pay for it.

I have a friend that is a true ectomorph, and she finally discovered that she operates best when she has something that's higher in carbohydrates with most meals.

But then my other friend that is more of an endomorph can't even have one bite of bread without feeling the effects. So she has to be more intentional about limiting them to a peri-workout meal (a meal that is before, during, or directly after a workout). She feels best when she eats primarily protein, veggies, and fat.  

I’m glad that God chose to design us all differently. It's such a beautiful kaleidoscope! He’s good at what He does, so I'm learning to trust Him and not long for a different body type.

I hope you can feel the same.

Continue learning about your own body and work on being the healthiest version of you.

Remember, this is going to look different for everybody. Start with the basics (remember, "level one"?), and then if you'd like to dial things in even more, begin eating more in line with your body's own design. Your plate of food may look very different from someone else, and that's ok!

Hey, guess what? You can start showing up for your body in simple ways, right now.

Let us take the guesswork out of where and how to start taking action.
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Trainer, nutrition coach, and Christian mom — in a culture that’s obsessed with “gym-selfies” and a number on the scale, I’m passionate about helping moms discover what it feels like to actually love their bodies and thrive in them.
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