Friday, December 26, 2008

The Right Diet for Your Body Type

Different body types require different weight loss strategies. You can reach your weight loss goals by eating right for your type. By “type,” I mean not your blood type but your body type. Bodies can be classified as endomorph, ectomorph, and mesomorph.

For most of human history, the endomorph’s body type has been the type to have. Endomorphs retain fat. They tend to have large joints (“big bones”), a rounded body shape, and excess body fat. Endomorphs lose fat very slowly. If you live in a society at risk for periodic famine, the endomorph’s body type is highly desirable.

Ectomorphs are at the opposite extreme. The ectomorph’s body type is skinny and bony. Ectomorphs tend to have a “fast metabolism” for their weight and have trouble gaining weight. Because ectomorphs have tended to die out during hard times throughout history, fewer of us have inherited ectomorph genes today. Even ectomorphs, however, can become overweight, usually after serious illness.

Mesomorphs are the midrange of body types. Some writers describe them as “genetically gifted.” Neither too heavy nor too thin, mesomorphs are muscular and naturally athletic. They lose fat with ease, but sometime with too much ease. Repeated loss and gain of body fat can cause lasting disturbances to the metabolism.

Let’s start with the least common weight problems first. In childhood and adolescence, ectomorphs tend to be the skinny kid who can never grow muscle. Ectomorphs respond best to brief, high intensity exercise. When a person with an ectomorphic body type becomes overfat, it is usually due to overtraining, participation in exhaustive exercise such as a marathon, or chronic illness.

When ectomorphs skip meals, their metabolism tends to reset itself to “normal” speed. While the ectomorph is fasting, the body strips amino acids out of muscle to make glucose. When they eat again, their bodies have less muscle, their setpoints are lower, and they are more ready to store fat. It takes a lot of inappropriate exercise and skipped meals for an ectomorph to become overweight, but it can and does happen.

Another pitfall for ectomorphs is the high-protein, high-fat, Atkins or South Beach diets. Ectomorphs tend to burn carbohydrates. They tend to store fat. When they shift from a high-carb diet to a high-protein diet, their body fat increases.

The mesomorph has the basic body type of an Arnold Schwarzenegger, low body fat and massive muscles. You do not, however, have to have the ripped muscles of a body builder to claim a mesomorph’s physique. Mesomorphs respond to just about any kind of diet. That is both their strength and their weakness. Almost any kind of diet will help a mesomorph lose weight. Almost any kind of “pigging out” will cause a mesomorph to gain weight.

We associate the endomorphic body type with excess fat, but this not an absolute. Any kind of “roundness” over the abdomen makes it more difficult for insulin to reach the tissues where it is needed. The body compensates by producing more insulin to move glucose into cells. Unfortunately, insulin is 300 times more efficient at storing fat than it is at storing glucose. Endomorphs tend to produce more and more insulin and store more and more abdominal fat, requiring more and more insulin. Carbohydrate sensitivity and diabetes are the constant risk of the endomophic body type. High-carb diets pack on fat. Low-carb diets are beneficial for endomorphs, but endomorphs usually find it very hard to lose weight by diet alone.

Read about diet for person with type 2 diabetes.

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