In our image-obsessed culture, we are inundated daily with images of what the “perfect body” looks like and how it should perform. Most of us struggle to put things in proper perspective and have unreasonable expectations of how our bodies should really look. Not all of us are meant to be Olympic decathletes or NFL football players, but how many times have you caught yourself thinking ‘I wish I looked like that,’ or ‘I can get those [insert desirable body part here]’?
Stop the unfair comparisons.
I am in no way saying that you should not aspire to be be athletic, but be content with being the best athlete you are meant to be. Like it or not, we are not all created equal– but that is precisely why humankind thrives.
To understand why it is not the fate of all of us to be born svelte elite athletes, let’s first discuss the different body types. Many of our physical characteristics are predetermined by our DNA. The color of one’s skin, texture of one’s hair, one’s height, one’s eye color, and even how one’s body processes the calories one consumes are all affected by one’s genetic code. We classify each individual on the planet under one of three body types, and knowing your specific body type is one of the first steps to changing your health for the better.
Ectomorphs tend to have smaller, thinner frames, thin joints, flat chests, narrow shoulders, and narrow hips. Ectomorphs also tend to be lanky with long, lean muscle and they struggle to put on weight because they often have incredibly fast metabolisms. Their bodies are typically using the food energy as soon as it enters the body, and because of this ectomorphs must eat very large amounts of food to add muscle mass. But this does not give an ectomorph carte blanche to eat anything they please. If being healthy is a priority, the right decisions should still be made concerning food.
Ectomorphs are often referred to as “hard gainers.” If you are trying to gain muscle mass as an ectomorph, you will have to ingest the calories necessary for gain. Because their metabolisms are so fast, they run the risk of their muscles entering a state of catabolism and breaking down during their sleep. To prevent this, it is imperative for ectomorphs to eat protein before bed.
Ex. Meal: 6 oz of Greek Yogurt with half a cup of blueberries about 30 mins to an hour before bed.
I have always been and Endomorph, and for years I hated that I could eat the same things as others, without gaining weight. Even now it is a constant grind to remain as healthy and fit as possible. Endomorphs can be looked at in most ways as the opposite of ectomorphs. We are defined by having solid, but often soft and doughy frames. Endomorphs also tend to carry more muscle mass, especially in the upper legs. We very easily put on weight, both through muscle and fat. We often carry excess fat and find it difficult to lose because of slower metabolisms and greater insulin sensitivities. Endomorphs often find ourselves thinking, “I will never get this excess weight off of my body.” There is no reason to be discouraged; with the right diet and exercise, endomorphs can be healthy and happy just like everyone else.
In order to keep the muscle mass that many endos gain while losing the fat, it is imperative that we use a mixture of both weight training and cardio in every training session. It may also be advantageous to reduce the amount of carbs in our diets in favor of higher protein and healthy fats.
Ex. Meal: Grilled Chicken Salad with plenty of veggie, avocado for your healthy fats, and a dressing with low sugar content.
The third and final body type is classified as Mesomorph. Mesomorphs can be seen as a combination of ectomorphs and endomorphs. Like endomorphs, Mesos tend to have larger bone structure and muscles. But like their endomorph counterparts, mesomorphs have thinner, more toned waists, as they don’t hold onto fat in the same way endomorphs hold weight. These men and women are often athletically inclined. Because they generally find it easy to gain or lose weight quickly, they are perfectly suited for bodybuilding — a sport in which one is looking to puts on large amounts of muscle while simultaneously burning fat.
Mesomorphs looking to add muscle mass, can do so by optimizing their macronutrient content with engaging in a vigorous workout routine. This means they need to balance their carb, protein, and fat intake, while watching their calorie count to ensure not gaining any excess fat.
Ex. Meal: one medium sweet potato (baked or steamed) with one pat of butter or teaspoon of coconut oil, 6 oz salmon fillet, and one cup steamed asparagus.
With a better understanding of which body type or combination of types you possess, you can better implement a plan that will help you live the healthiest possible lifestyle. I urge all reading this to do a little research, figure out what your body type is, and use that knowledge to be healthier.