Your metabolism is how your body converts what you consume into energy for movement and functioning. Think of it in terms of how efficiently your body turns fuel into action, like how a car turns gas into forward motion.
Some bodies are keen to use fuel as soon as it is brought on board, where others are more inclined to hang onto it for a future need. Maintaining a healthy weight and optimal functioning is dependent on bringing in the best types of fuel for that body; similarly, exercising the body in a way that allows it to most effectively use the fuel brought in helps keep things running smoothly. It’s all about economizing and helping the body stay well in its uniquely preferred way.
The three main body types (or somatotypes) are endomorph, ectomorph and mesomorph. You’ll probably identify most with one of these, or you may see yourself reflected in a combination of two.
One of the many characteristics of a person with endomorphs metabolism is they are soft and short people with a fuller body. If you gain muscle as well as fat easily and find it hard to lose, then, you have an endomorph metabolism. People with endomorphs have a sluggish metabolism, so it’s simple for them to put on weight (the greater part of which is fat, not muscle) but difficult to lose them.
If you fall in this category, then you can start with a mix of cardio and strength training coupled with a diet where you consume fewer calories are essential for burning fat. When you cut down your carb intake and increase your protein and fats intake, you can lose weight more easily.
At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center, we know that the key for endomorph metabolic bliss is to consume foods that provide steady, lasting fuel without spiking blood sugar. (Spikes in blood sugar cause a surge in insulin production, which is the body’s “storage” hormone and encourages the body to hang onto as much as it can.) Endomorphs tend to do best with a diet that lends itself to less storage and higher burn, as the tendency to store calories and nutrients can become problematic with a diet high in foods prone to easy conversion to storage.
This means focusing on complex carbs from veggies and grains, rather than simple carbs like white starches and sugars. The former will be converted to more steady energy when consumed in low to moderate amounts semi-regularly. Endomorphs can also help keep their metabolisms humming with high-protein, higher-fat foods — think fish, healthy oils, avocado and nuts — that help regulate hunger and energy levels without spiking blood sugar. Paleo- and ketogenic-inspired diet plans can also be beneficial.
People with an ectomorph metabolism tend to be smaller in frame and bone structure. They’re naturally thinner, leaner, and often find it hard to gain weight. They have a fast metabolism, which allows them to burn up calories quicker than other metabolism types. To gain weight, ectomorphs usually need a huge caloric intake.
For ectomorphs, workouts should focus on the big muscle groups. Make sure you include a blend of cardio and strength training, with more focus on strength training than cardio. Workouts that target specific muscle groups rather than full body movements are usually best.
As with any training program, diet is a major part of results. Starchy carbs can be your best friend because they’re high in calories and give you quick energy to power through intense workouts. Because ectomorphs have to eat such a large number of calories, supplements can be a game changer. It’s also a good idea to eat before bed to prevent muscle catabolism during the night.
Due to the high rate at which ectomorphs burn fuel, small and regularly timed top-ups can be extra beneficial. Ectomorphs can also stand a higher quantity of carbohydrates — up to 50-60% of their entire diet, from all carbohydrate sources — than the other types, as these provide quick hits of energy that can keep the body running well. The advice to consume five or six small meals throughout the day makes the most sense for this body type.
The balance of the ectomorph diet should be divided fairly evenly between protein and fat (although if one is looking to build muscle, additional protein and less fat can be a good approach). Think well-balanced, clean foods with high energy potential: whole grains, nuts, seeds, veggies, fruit and clean protein are great options.
Mesomorphs, as the name suggests, fall somewhere in the middle of the other two. The mesomorph body is athletic and prone to quicker muscle gain and strength development; however, it can also be prone to fat accumulation, particularly in the lower body. Mesomorphs are strong, respond well to exercise (i.e. they see quick change and results when starting a new workout routine) and can eat a moderate amount of food relative to their activity level without gaining a ton of weight. Metabolically, too, they fall in the middle of the other two types.
The mesomorph body is the one that thrives in the middle of the nutrition spectrum: a good balance of carbs, protein and fat (along the lines of 40%/40%/20%) is essential for keeping weight in check and staying energized.
Because mesomorphs tend to put on muscle quite easily, including a source of protein at each meal can be a good way to support the body’s natural inclination; plus, this can help keep hunger signals a little more regular and promote a nice even-humming metabolism. A paleo-inspired approach (where most of the carbs come from veggies and fruit instead of grains, and where there is ample protein from animal and/or plant sources coming) can provide a good framework for an ideal nutrient profile for this body type. If weight fluctuation tends to be an issue for you, upping protein and cutting down on carbs (adjust those percentages by about 10% to see a difference) can provide quick results; however, if you’re extra active, don’t decrease your carb intake too much, lest your body start consuming muscle tissue for fuel.