People generally fall into three different body types: long and lean ectomorphs, muscular and fit mesomorphs or big-boned and beefy endomorphs. If you're an endomorph, you gain fat rather easily, but by eating right and exercising, your physique can take on curves like Jennifer Lopez's. If you're male, you can build extreme muscle like Gerard Butler. Without the right diet and exercise routine, however, an endomorph can easily turn doughy, soft and plump. Genetics gave you your endomorph body type, but you can make the most of it by choosing the right foods and adopting an appropriate exercise regimen.
An endomorph may have a naturally sluggish metabolic rate and gain weight more readily in the low belly, hips and thighs. A larger bone structure, small shoulders and short limbs exaggerate the stocky look of your physique; your body type means you're naturally built to be a football lineman or a powerlifter.
You store fat more efficiently than your lanky ectomorph friends, but you can also build muscle more readily, which can be an advantage at the gym or sports arena. Your size and metabolic tendencies mean you have a greater propensity for carbohydrate and insulin intolerance, though. You more readily store carbohydrates as fat, which can easily lead to a high body fat percentage that increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
Macronutrients Appropriate for an Endomorph
Because carbohydrates are less easily used for energy and more likely stored as fat in an endormophic body type, you do best with a diet that emphasizes proteins and fats and keeps your carb intake at a moderate level. Aim to evenly distribute you macronutrient intake so you're consuming about 30 percent carbs, 35 percent protein and 35 percent fat.
Most of the carbs you consume should come from quality sources that digest slowly because of a high fiber content, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid refined grains, such as white rice, pasta and white bread.
Protein Sources for Meals
Aim to eat one to two palm-size portions of lean protein at each meal. Think of each palm-size portion as containing a total of 20 to 30 grams of protein. For example, a cup of roast chicken contains about 35 grams of protein, a filet of broiled tilapia contains 22 grams of protein, while 4 ounces of lean flank steak contains 24 grams of protein -- all are about a palm-size portion. Women may stick to the lower portions because they're naturally smaller.
Other sources of lean protein include a whole egg blended with two egg whites, tofu, white-meat turkey, shrimp, pork tenderloin and lean ground beef. Fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel, may also be included in your diet a few times per week as the omega 3 fatty acids contained in it are extraordinarily beneficial to your health and fat loss.
At each meal, aim for two to three thumb-sized portions of a healthy unsaturated fat. This fat may come from a generous sprinkle of chopped nuts, a few slices of avocado, a scant handful of toasted sunflower seeds or a few teaspoons of olive oil. Each thumb-size portion contains about 7 to 13 grams total of fat.
Ways to incorporate these fats into meals include adding sesame seeds to a stir-fry, dressing vegetables with olive oil, slicing avocado onto a salad or enjoying a smear of peanut butter on an apple. One tablespoon of peanut butter has 8 grams of fat; 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, about 10 grams; and 1 ounce of sunflower seeds has 14 grams.
Take Care When Choosing Carbohydrates
Fresh vegetables are your best bet when choosing carbohydrates; they offer numerous vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, along with fiber, to fill you up without a lot of calories. Have one to two fistfuls of watery, fibrous vegetables at each meal. Options include broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, baby spinach, cauliflower, bell peppers, asparagus and green beans. Fresh fruit makes a quality snack or dessert for meals, but it adds to your carbohydrate count. Stick to less-starchy versions, such as apples, citrus fruit, stone fruits and berries.
Enjoy whole grains in moderation at meals, as their carb count can quickly add up and lead to fat gain. Go for 1/2 to 1 full handful of an option such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats or millet. More calorie-dense vegetables and fruits may also be enjoyed in lieu of whole grains. Your options include sweet potatoes, corn, peas, white potatoes, winter squash, bananas and papaya.
Sample Diet Meals for an Endomorph
Meals that use these macronutrient ratio suggestions are easy to pull together. For example, for breakfast, scramble an egg and two egg whites with a generous handful of sweet red peppers and mushrooms; have 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal with milk and a sprinkle of walnuts on the side. Alternatively, make a smoothie containing one to two scoops of whey protein, a handful of spinach, 1/2 banana, berries, milk and a thumb-size dollop of almond butter; or have turkey bacon alongside a whole-wheat English muffin topped with sliced tomatoes and avocado.
Lunch and dinner could consist of grilled chicken with sweet potato and broccoli topped with slivered almonds; tofu stir-fried with snow peas, carrots and celery over brown rice with cashews; or a green salad topped with water-packed tuna, orange slices, slivered almonds and olive oil dressing. Corn tortillas wrapped around flank steak with salsa, lettuce and avocado or quinoa mixed with olive oil and fresh herbs with a ground turkey patty and roast asparagus are other meal ideas.
Cardio Exercise for Endomorphs
Losing weight through diet alone is challenging for most people, especially fuller-figured endomorphs. Your rounder body requires exercise in addition to consuming these diet foods to promote weight loss and the development of lean muscle. A comprehensive fitness program that includes cardio and strength training boosts your metabolism.
The American Council on Exercise suggests you do two or three sessions of steady-paced, moderate-intensity cardio per week. Each should last about 30 to 60 minutes and may consist of brisk walking, easy jogging, cycling, swimming or a cardio dance class. You also want to include two to three sessions of high-intensity interval training weekly. HIIT encourages greater fat loss and requires less time commitment, but slightly more intense work. Make each HIIT session last about 30 minutes. For these sessions, execute one to two minutes of all-out effort alternated with one to two minutes of low-intensity effort.
Strength Training for an Endomorph
Strength training builds muscle, which helps boost your slower metabolism. You'll find that you build muscle pretty readily, but keeping your body fat low enough to show off that muscle is a challenge.
Train all the major muscle groups two to three times per week, but focus on compound exercises that demand a lot of work from the larger muscle groups, the back, hips, chest and thighs. These include moves such as squats, lunges, rows, pullups, chest presses and pushups. Aim for a relatively high number of repetitions -- up to about 15 -- with a weight that feels heavy by the last couple of efforts.
Performing the moves as a circuit, meaning you move from exercise to exercise with little rest between sets, helps you burn extra calories. For example, move through a set of squats, rows, chest presses, lunges and crunches; rest for a minute and then repeat the circuit one or two more times.
After a strength-training session, have a small snack that combines protein and carbohydrates. Options include Greek yogurt with chopped fruit; deli turkey wrapped in romaine lettuce with tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and mustard; or a hard-boiled egg with an apple. The protein helps with muscle repair and growth, while the carbs replenish your energy.