People come in all shapes in sizes, depending on both your genetics and lifestyle choices. But did you know there are three main categories of body types people typically fall under?
The three main metabolic body types are ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Learning which body type you were born with can help you train and eat specifically for your body type—it essentially gives you inside knowledge on how to lose weight and stay healthy. Just remember: Plenty of people are a combination of two body types as well, so don’t stress about completely fitting the bill of one specifically—go with the traits and the advice that resonate the most with your body.
Read on to get the low-down on each of the three metabolic body types, plus fitness and diet tips to tailor your lifestyle to match your specific type.
Ectomorphs are typically slender with small joints and a light build. Think that one skinny friend who tends to eat whatever she wants without putting on a pound. They have a narrow frame and a fast metabolism, meaning they’re often able to overeat without gaining much weight. If you fall under this metabolic type and are looking to maintain a healthy weight while getting stronger, it’s key to get enough protein and often recommended to eat smaller meals more often. Also, if you’re not already, be sure you’re incorporating strength training into your weekly workouts.
- Thin, lean body
- Flat chest
- Small shoulders
- Not muscular
- Fast metabolism
- Prone to periods of hyperactivity
- Hard to gain weight
Ectomorph diet advice
- Always eat breakfast!
- Eat a greater amount of healthy, complex carbohydrates, especially post workout
- Eat more frequently; eating 6 smaller meals spread over the course of the day instead of 3 larger ones
- Supplement with protein shakes before or after your workouts
Prioritize strength training over cardio; focus on high intensity strength workouts 3 days a week that hone in on all the major muscle groups and one to two days of cardio.
Related: The Dangers of Being Skinny Fat
Mesomorphs typically have an athletic, medium build and can gain muscle easily. Unfortunately they also gain fat easily, too, so they need to be careful not to overeat—which many tend to do because they take their naturally athletic body for granted. Mesomorphs should get a decent mix of strength training and cardio, and try to cut back on their carb intake if they want to lose weight.
(If you’re interested in cutting back on the carbs, try these delicious low-carb zucchini recipes.)
- Medium-sized body structure
- Broad shoulders
- Gains muscle easily
- Responds well to exercise
- If have extra body fat, tend to carry it in the lower body
- Focus on getting a healthy mix of complex carbs, proteins, and fats
- Include a good source of protein with every meal
- If weight loss is your goal, cut back on carbs. Many mesomorphs see quick weight loss results from switching to a higher protein, lower-carb diet
Mesomorphs respond quickly to exercise, so your body will benefit from any activity. Combine an equal mix of cardio and strength training weekly for best results. Incorporate power moves like plyometric exercises (think split jumps, squat jacks, or burpees) to take your fitness to the next level. Don’t coast on your naturally athletic frame—take advantage of it by challenging yourself and reaping the rewards.
Endomorphs have a larger bone structure and more overall body fat—evolutionarily speaking, you’re better at storing nutrients than the other two types. Endomorphs generally have thicker arms and legs with a round body. It can be hard for an endomorph to lose weight, but not impossible! They typically have strong leg muscles and weaker upper body muscles.
- Round body
- Medium to large joints + bones
- Gain muscle and fat easily
- Strong leg muscles
- Find it hard to lose weight
- Fatigues easily
- Slow metabolism
- Limit carbohydrates when possible—except for veggies, brown rice or oats
- Make sure you’re eating enough fiber each day to keep you full without binging on unhealthy foods
- Many endomorphs see great weight loss success from a Paleo-centric diet
Focus on losing weight through cardio workouts. Interval-style routines may be your best friend. Ditch the long, slow treadmill workouts in favor of a 30-minute HIIT class. You’ll be dripping sweat and burning fat and it’s better cardio for your heart and your body than a slow, steady state jog. Know that because you can’t spot-reduce body fat, all the crunches in the world won’t give you six-pack abs if you have fat covering the muscle. So aim to lose body fat all over to start.
Which Metabolic Body Type Are You?
Did you see yourself in one of these body types—or perhaps a combination of two? Using these tips is a way to maximize your weight loss potential and help you make the most of your genetic makeup. We are all born beautiful in our individual shape and size; listen to your body and use only the advice that resonates with you.