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What is your body type? Don’t know? Read this blog (Part-II)

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Should you eat for your body type?

 

Mostly no.

 

It’s not because we don’t think body typing has value. It does—for a few people. But, for the vast majority of people, body typing creates more questions than answers.

 

For the average person who just wants to look and feel better, body typing serves as a giant distraction. It also makes nutrition unnecessarily complicated. For these people, much simpler and more approachable strategies work beautifully, and frankly, better. That’s why we now recommend body typing only as a third step in a multistep progression.

 

So who does benefit from body typing? Two types of people generally fall into this camp: High-performance athletes and people who couldn’t achieve their goals through foundational strategies alone.

 

In those very rare cases, altering macronutrient breakdowns based on body type (or more specifically, fat to muscle ratio) can be an effective strategy, but only after someone has mastered the fundamentals.

 

Which brings us to… the fundamentals.

 

Step 1: Master foundational nutrition habits.

 

The following simple and accessible strategies can help most people reach their goals. Try these first.

 

Consume mostly whole foods. Whole foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, whole fresh cuts of meat and poultry, seafood, and nuts and seeds. Choose whole foods over processed ones whenever possible, aiming to make small improvements to each meal rather than doing a giant overhaul all at once. For example, can you add more veggies to your fast food sandwich? How about eating a side salad with dinner? Before you reach for a crunchy, processed snack food, consider whether crunchy fruit (apple slices, for example), veggies (cucumber slices), or nuts (roasted almonds) could hit the spot.

 

Eat slowly. This practice will help you become more aware of what you eat, how much you eat, and why. You’ll also learn to eat less—automatically—because you’ll tune into your natural fullness cues. To do so: slow down as much as you can. Before you dig in, notice what you have chosen. Take a bite. Chew slowly. Take in the scent, texture, taste, and temperature. Put your utensils down or take a sip of water. Then have another bite as you attempt to slow down and savor the meal. And don’t worry if you find it challenging to slow down. Just like all new habits, this takes practice.

 

Eat until you’re satisfied—but not stuffed. If you’re trying to lose weight, this strategy can help you to eat less without feeling deprived. Your goal: to stop eating after hunger dissipates, but before you’re completely full. On a 1 to 10 fullness scale, you’re aiming for an 8—or about 80 percent full. And don’t worry. You don’t have to get it right away. For your first meal, you might simply pay attention to how your level of hunger changes as you eat and progress from there. Whenever you eat until you’re uncomfortably full, forgive yourself and just keep trying. Over time, you’ll get the hang of it. And eventually, with enough practice, this will become more automatic.

 

(Note: if you want to maintain your weight, aim for 90-100 percent full. If you are trying to put on mass, eat beyond fullness, until you are slightly uncomfortable—roughly 110-120 percent full.)

 

Emphasize protein and vegetables. Emphasizing these two categories at meals will help you lose fat, build muscle and strength, feel full, dial down hunger, and improve your health. For most people, this means aiming for 1-2 palm-sized portions of lean protein, and 1-2 fist-sized portions of vegetables at most meals.

 

Those four practices take most people from point A to point B. If you’ve been following all four practices 80 to 90 percent of the time (which is the sweet spot for progress) and are still not making desired progress, it’s time for step 2.

 

Step 2: Track your food intake.

 

If the four practices listed in step 1 are not enough, you may need to track your food intake. For example, you may need to consume fewer portions (for weight loss) or consume more portions (to gain weight). In either case, you’ll need an eating system to help you stay on track.

 

Many eating systems exist, from calorie counting to macro counting and more. Hand portions work well for most because they quickly and easily help people to determine the right portions for them. Sure, hand portions are not as precise as weighing and measuring food, but this system is close enough to help most people see results without a lot of fuss (in our experience it’s about 95-100% as accurate).

 

Before moving on, we want to take a moment to be completely clear about one thing: most people can stop right here. They don’t need move on to step 3. For most people, the first two steps offer everything they need to reach their goals.

 

Step 3: Modify your macros based on your goals and/or body type.

 

This is where your body type may come into play—sort of.

 

But we first want to reiterate an important point: Most people don’t need to eat specific macros for their body type, and that’s okay.

 

It really is.

 

So only move onto step 3 once you have been consistently following fundamental nutritional practices for months—if not years—and still need to make further progress.

 

We’ve found that two types of people tend to need step three to get themselves over the finish line:

 

  • People whose body type interferes with their goals. It really is harder for an endomorph to lose weight, for example, than an ectomorph. Conversely, it’s also more difficult for an ectomorph to put on muscle than it is for an endomorph. Usually consistently implementing step 2 (described above) is sufficient. But in the rare case it’s not, step 3 can help.

 

  • High-level performance athletes such as powerlifters, bodybuilders, and marathon runners. For these people, a customized macro plan—with personalized percentages of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—can make the difference between performing “meh” and reaching a personal best.

 

If you already know your body type, great. If you don’t, no biggie. You read that right. Just don’t worry about it. There’s no need to find a pair of calipers and a tape measure. All you need to know is this: your goal. That’s because the most common goals align with eating strategies created for specific body types. Find your goal below, along with the corresponding body type and eating strategy.

 

Goal: Lose Fat

Typical body type: Endomorphic

 

Though this eating plan is based on the endomorphic body type, it works for anyone with a fat loss goal, including mesomorphic athletes who just want to shed some fat in order to get completely shredded.

 

To reach this goal, use these macros:

  • 35 percent protein
  • 25 percent carbohydrates
  • 40 percent fat

 

Don’t get hung up on the math. Just think: more fats and protein, fewer carbs. If you need to eat during exercise (because you’re really pushing yourself beyond 60 minutes of sustained high effort), gravitate toward protein powder or Essential Amino Acids (EAAs), reserving carbohydrate sports foods (such as gels and sports drinks) only for the most strenuous sessions lasting (Think: an all day soccer tournament, a marathon, a powerlifting competition, or a long, grueling ride in intense heat). For meals, focus on whole, minimally-processed, carbohydrate-dense foods—and limit your consumption of starches and fruits, aiming for about a 4:1 veggie-to-fruit ratio (four vegetables for every 1 fruit.)

 

Using the hand-portion system, a general framework for this looks something like:

 

  • 1-2 palms of protein dense foods at each meal
  • 1-2 fists of vegetables at each meal
  • 1-2 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods at each meal
  • 3-4 thumbs of fat dense foods at each meal

 

 

Goal: Push Endurance or Gain Muscle

Typical body type: Ectomorphic

 

If you’re doing high-volume exercise such as long-distance running or cycling, this is the plan for you. You’ll consume macros designed for the slender ectomorphic body type (lack of muscle, lack of fat), whether you are a natural ectomorph or not. Even if your body type is more mesomorphic, you’re more likely to reach this goal if you follow an ectomorphic-style diet that includes proportionally more carbohydrates, less fat, and moderate protein.

 

This plan is also ideal if you are or think of yourself as a “hard gainer,” as you need ectomorphic-style eating to consume enough calories to overcome your body’s resistance to putting on muscle. Remember: true ectomorphs tend to lack both fat and muscle. To pack on muscle, they need more carbohydrates, less fat, and moderate protein. In other words, you’re looking at the same macro strategy as an endurance athlete. Specifically, that looks like:

  • 25 percent protein
  • 55 percent carbohydrates
  • 20 percent fat

 

Don’t drive yourself crazy with macro math. Just think “more carbs and fewer fats”. Whenever possible, try to consume carbohydrates (such as sports drinks and high sugar foods) during or after your workouts. For your meals, eat whole, minimally-processed, carbohydrate-dense foods liberally, aiming for about a 2:1 veggie-to-fruit ratio. (In other words, for every 2 servings of veggies you consume, have a serving of fruit.)

 

Using the hand-portion system, a general framework for this looks something like:

 

  • 1-2 palms of protein dense foods at each meal
  • 1-2 fists of vegetables at each meal
  • 3-4 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods at each meal
  • 1-2 thumbs of fat dense foods at each meal

 

 

Goal: Boost power

Typical body type: Mesomorphic

 

Need more explosive power to knock off your next WOD or boost your hockey, soccer, sprinting, or basketball game? Then you’ll want to eat like a mesomorph (low fat, high muscle) so you can add muscle while staying lean.

 

Follow a mixed diet, consisting of balanced carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Specifically, we’re talking about:

  • 30 percent protein
  • 40 percent carbohydrates
  • 30 percent fat

 

Consume fast-digesting carbohydrate-dense foods and/or drinks during intense exercise sessions, as needed. During meals, focus on whole, minimally-processed, carbohydrate-dense foods, in moderation, aiming for about a 3:1 veggie-to-fruit ratio. (In other words, three veggies for every one fruit serving).

 

Using the hand-portion system, a general framework for this looks something like:

 

  • 1-2 palms of protein dense foods at each meal
  • 1-2 fists of vegetables at each meal
  • 2-3 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods at each meal
  • 2-3 thumbs of fat dense foods at each meal

 

 

Step 4: Adjust As Needed

 

The first few steps will help most people reach their goals. But there are always outliers.

 

If you still have a way to go—despite consistently sticking with steps 1 to 3—that doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong.

 

It just means you need a personalized nutrition approach.

 

And the only way to find the best nutrition approach is to do this: experiment.

 

Try a new eating strategy. Observe how it works (or doesn’t work). And either maintain or adjust from there, depending on the outcome.

 

And consider signing up for coaching—so you can work closely with a professional who can help you to see your blind spots, suggest new alternatives, and stay motivated.

 

Here’s a quick recap.

 

If you are brand new to the world of healthy eating: Don’t worry too much about body types and macros. Start with the fundamental nutrition practices: choose whole foods, emphasize vegetables and lean proteins, eat slowly, and end meals when you’re 80 percent full or just satisfied.

 

If you’ve mastered the fundamentals, but want to lose more weight or gain more muscle: Reduce/increase your calorie and macronutrient consumption.

 

If you’re a performance athlete: It may be time to try body type eating—with body type and goal-specific macros. Figure out your goal (lose fat, gain muscle, boost endurance, add power) and/or your body type (endomorphic, mesomorphic, ectomorphic) to find the best macro plan for you. (See step 3 for details.)

 

If you’ve tried everything and none of it is working: Experiment. If you’ve used a strategy in the past and it didn’t work, then don’t do it again. Try new strategies, track your progress, and adjust from there.


 

Reference – Precision Nutrition’s Published Lesson Plan Articles

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