You’ve been diligent with your diet and exercise routine, but those stubborn pounds refuse to budge. Meanwhile, your workout buddy is eating and exercising the exact same way and hitting their goals in stride. Although we all know it’s important to not compare ourselves to others, it’s hard to not to get jealous when you’re putting in all the effort and not getting the rewards. According to personal trainer and nutritionist Rachael Attard, it all boils down to having different body types.
No, not body shape — like pear or hourglass — but type. Attard explains, “There are three female body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. By finding out what your body type is and adjusting your workout regimen and diet to it, you will be training smarter and you will achieve better and faster results.”
Attard breaks each type down, “In a nutshell, endomorph body types are generally shorter and curvier, ectomorph body types are usually tall and slim, and mesomorph body types are typically characterized as naturally muscular, with a medium size bone structure, broad shoulders and narrow waists.”
She adds that ectomorphs tend to find it more difficult to gain weight or muscle and are naturally low in body fat, endomorphs gain muscle quickly but may find weight loss more challenging with a naturally higher body fat level, and mesomorphs both lose and gain weight easily, plus see results from exercise faster.
You can take a free quiz on Attard’s website to really pinpoint which of those categories you fit into. If you’ve already narrowed in on one that sounds like you, keep reading for some diet and exercise tips she shared with us to help you actually reach your fitness goals!
Workout and Diet Tips for Ectomorphs
Because this type can lose weight easily but finds it hard to gain muscle, Attard recommends upping your resistance training. “They should focus on heavy lifting, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and other resistance training workouts,” she says, aiming for squeezing these in three times a week. She also claims cardio isn’t 100 percent necessary for this body type, unless you just love doing them. And don’t forget to give yourself a recovery day, one per week. “Your body will gain muscle and strength very slowly, so don’t be disheartened if you are not noticing improvements right away,” she says. Light walking or stretching on these days are totally fine, though.
As for diet, Attard says ectomorphs are the only body type that thrives on a high amount of carbs — lucky them! That means about 40 to 50 percent of your daily meals should be carbohydrates, with 30 to 35 percent protein, and 20 to 25 percent fat. Before you start chowing down, though, Attard warns, “Not all carbs are created equal. A few treats here and there are OK, but try to avoid sugar and focus on healthy carbs such as fruit, brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, and veggies.”
Workout and Diet Tips for Endomorphs
This body type tends to be “bottom-heavy,” so Attard suggests keeping the focus on lighter weight resistance training rather than heavy ones. Unlike ectomorphs, endomorphs need cardio on a regular basis. Attard “strongly recommends” going on 45 minute power walks five times a week to help burn fat in your legs. Throwing in moderate to high intensity running at a steady pace on a flat surface a couple days a week will also help those in this category stay in shape.
When it comes to eating, carbs are sadly not this body type’s friend. That doesn’t mean cutting them out entirely, though — carbs can account for with about 20 to 25 percent your meals, but Attard adds they should come from fruits and veggies rather than starchy pasta, bread, or rice. She says the rest of your plate should be 45 to 50 percent healthy fats and 30 percent protein. “Think lean meats, oily fish, nuts, seeds, and avocado,” Attard explains, saying these will help you feel fuller longer and burn calories faster.
If that seems lacking in fun treats, think again. “No diet should be super restrictive,” Attard says. “Try some healthier treats like chocolate avocado mousse or homemade protein balls.” But if you can’t help grabbing for regular sweets now and then, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just try to keep it in moderation.
Workout and Diet Tips for Mesomorphs
“Mesomorph girls tend to be more athletic and gain muscle easily. But if your goal is to lose weight, stick to lighter weight (high rep) workouts,” Attard tells us. “HIIT workouts are great for mesomorphs.” She recommends doing them about once or twice a week, plus running and walking around three times a week. “To challenge yourself, make one of your cardio days high intensity,” she adds, meaning reaching for a higher running or walking pace.
For food, Attard says this body type does best with a fairly equal balance of carbs, protein, and fat — about 30 to 40 percent of each in all meals. Mesomorphs should watch out for super-sugary foods, though. She suggests using an 80:20 percent rule (eating “good” 80 percent of the time and indulging 20 percent of the time) to keep yourself from overdoing sweets. “If your body fat is being stubborn or you just need a little kick start, try a low carb and high protein diet for four weeks,” Attard adds. Then switch back to the more equally balanced ratios.
Now you can hit the gym knowing you’re doing exactly what your body really needs to reach your fitness goals. Be sure to check out Attard’s website for more expert tips from the training pro and take her body type quiz to confirm which category you fit into.