Customizing your skincare routine based on your skin type is not a new concept in beauty. The first question you are asked when visiting a dermatologist, esthetician or even when taking a virtual online quiz is “what’s your skin type?” We all know common characteristics - oily, dry, combination, acne-prone, sensitive - and knowing your skin type can lead you in the direction of the best solution. This includes products with ingredients that react best with your skin, that won’t disturb your skin, and will work harmoniously in combination with your hormones, and other internal and external factors. Over time we’ve seen that the solution for one person may not work and may even be counter-productive for someone else!
If this is the case for skin health, is this also the case for body health and the foods and ingredients you are ingesting everyday? Our Skin Advisory Board member and registered dietician, Molly Knauer, explains the importance of understanding your body type and consciously choosing the RIGHT foods for your body.
Learning which foods work best for your body is a crucial, empowering and freeing lesson. It may take a lot of experimentation, but when you realize you have more energy than you’ve had before, you have less bloat or discomfort, clear, glowing skin and you are maintaining your goal weight, any trials and tribulations will have been worth it! There are so many different diets out there, finding one that is sustainable and works for you can be overwhelming.
Body Type eating has been around for a long time in different variations. The idea is there are three different body types and your macronutrient intake should vary depending on your body type.
Image from precisionnutrition.com
- Ectomorphy is a lack of body mass relative to someone’s height. It is measured using height and weight.
- Mesomorphy is muscle mass relative to height. It’s determined by the width of the elbow and knee, flexed arm circumference corrected with triceps skinfold, and calf circumference corrected with medial calf skinfold.
- Endomorphy is relative fatness or leanness as determined by the sum of three skinfolds taken at the triceps, subscapular, and suprailiac. The higher the sum of these folds, the higher the endomorphy score.
How to cater to each body type
According to this way of eating, each body type should follow a different diet and fitness regimen. The belief is that you can change your body type if you follow your appropriate diet and exercise. Overall, the nutrition standards are in line with many other healthy diets- eat mostly whole foods, emphasize protein and vegetables, eat slowly and until you are satisfied rather than stuffed.
Endomorph diet and training:
Focused on fat loss using metabolic and cardiovascular training. Short rest periods, circuits for resistance training, and as much time in steady-state cardio. This body type is urged to increase their non-exercise activity as much as possible, committing to a non-sedentary lifestyle.
- Macronutrient intake: 35 percent protein
- 25 percent carbohydrates
- 40 percent fat
(more fat and protein, less carbs)
(image from precision nutrition)
Mesomorph diet and training:
For mesomorphs with low fat and high muscle, the best training includes high power, athletic and sport specific training. The best diet to complement high intensity workouts is:
- 30 percent protein
- 40 percent carbohydrates
- 30 percent fat
Ectomorph diet and training:
For ectomorphs, it can be harder to gain muscle mass. Anaerobic strength resistance training is recommended on a positive energy balance diet. Think heavier weights with more rest periods and less cardio. To achieve positive energy balance, the macronutrient intake recommended is:
- 25 percent protein (high quality animal proteins, eggs, nuts, legumes)
- 55 percent carbohydrates (whole grains like lentils, quinoa, brown rice and fruits like berries and apples, lots of leafy greens, sweet potatoes)
- 20 percent fat (oily fish, nuts, seeds)
Carbs are an ectomorph’s best friend!
Is body type eating important when understanding your body type and how to care for it?
Yes and no. For most, it is unnecessary to know anything about the body type diet. The underlying themes are generally the basis of any healthy diet- eat whole natural foods, practice moderation, and exercise regularly. For those trying to change their body type (gain more muscle mass, lose body fat) the guidelines may be helpful. Overall, the recommendations are sound and helpful.
What’s important about body type eating that people should know?
There are always outliers. As with most diets, if you have followed the guidelines and it is not working for you, there is nothing wrong with you, you most likely just need a more personalized approach that includes a more comprehensive understanding of your specific hormones, metabolism, lifestyle and habits.
What are some common misconceptions about body type eating?
When the diet was first introduced in the 1940’s by William Sheldon, he argued that the body types are also associated with specific personality traits and social status. This part of the body type diet has long been put to rest!
Is there scientific proof supporting body type eating?
This is where nutrition gets complicated. Yes and no. There are scientific truths for some aspects of the diet but they do not apply to everyone. Body type eating can benefit some people in highly specific situations.
Is body type eating necessary for people to follow to have a healthier life, or is it a choice for those struggling with body health?
Because of the macronutrient counting and specific training requirements, body type eating is a plan recommended for those who are struggling with body health and have tried many other diets with no success. However, following the guidelines wouldn’t be harmful to anyone who wanted to give it a go.
I urge people to educate themselves on many different ways of eating and nutrition philosophies. Body type eating is probably unnecessary for most people to follow but the guidelines can be helpful for some. I find that most healthy diets emphasize the same principles under a different headline or twist:
1. Eat mostly whole foods
2. Focus on high quality proteins, healthy fats and fiber from fruits and veggies
3. Practice moderation and understand satiety versus fullness
4. Move your body in a way that feels good for you, getting your heart rate up every day
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
6. Get enough sleep and make sure you have a strong support system
Whether you want to follow the body type diet, ketogenic, vegan, or paleo diet, these principles remain the common basis for all.