The Best Diet and Workout Plan for the Endomorph Body Type

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Endomorph nutrition focuses on protein and limits carbs. Think lean meat, eggs, fish and low-fat dairy.
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Your body type can affect how much fat and muscle you carry, and may also determine which foods and activities are best suited to your body composition. Take endomorphs, for instance — this body type tends to store more fat, and following an endomorph diet can help you feel your best.

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Here's everything you need to know about endomorphs, including the ideal diet, weight-loss plan and fitness routine for this body type.

What Are Endomorphs?

The concept of somatotypes, or body types, was first introduced by William H. Sheldon, PhD, MD, in the 1940s to classify people based on their skeletal shape and body composition, according to the University of Houston.

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Per the American Council on Exercise (ACE), there are primarily three body types: endomorph, ectomorph and mesomorph. Here's what each means:

  • Endomorph body types usually have a larger bone structure, tend to store fat and may have difficulty losing weight.
  • Ectomorphs are typically long and lean; they have a fast metabolism which can make gaining weight difficult for them.
  • Mesomorphs tend to be naturally muscular and can gain and lose weight easily.

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If you're not sure if you are an endomorph, or if you're wondering if you're a mesomorph or endomorph, that's normal: Most people are a combination of two somatotypes (although one is usually more dominant than the other), according to the ACE.

Per the University of Houston, ecto-endomorphs and endo-ectomorphs as some classic combinations. Ecto-endomorphs usually have leaner upper bodies, with a tendency to store fat in their hips and thighs. Endo-ectomorphs, on the other hand, tend to store weight in their midsection and generally have leaner lower bodies.

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But while some parts of Dr. Sheldon's original theory have held up over time, many have not, per the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). For instance, today we understand that other factors like genetic variations, environmental and social influences, geographic location and lifestyle habits influence mental and physical development.

That said, according to the NASM, the parts of the original theory that have endured provide the basis for nutrition and exercise programs that may work better for your current body type (though this body type can fluctuate over time based on factors like age, lifestyle and environment).

Per a July 2018 study in ​Psychological Medicine,​ it was also originally believed that there was a correlation between body types and certain personality traits and psychiatric disorders.

However, the researchers were unable to confirm the correlation and feel that additional scientific research is necessary. As with other parts of the somatotype theory, the psychiatric aspect remains extremely controversial, with many believing it amounts to nothing more than quackery.

Best Foods for Endomorphs

Now that you know the background of the endomorph body type, you may be wondering about the best foods for an endomorph to eat.

Here's a food list for endomorphs to keep in mind when crafting their diet:

1. Protein-Rich Foods

First on the list for what foods to eat for the endomorph body type: Protein. Eating plenty of the nutrient can help you maintain (or build) muscle mass while also supporting fat loss, according to the NASM.

High-protein foods to eat include:

  • Lean meat like chicken and turkey
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Legumes like lentils and beans
  • Nuts and seeds

Tip

Starting your day with a nutritious, protein-packed breakfast (like LIVESTRONG.com's Turkey Protein Scramble) may help support metabolism function and insulin regulation, according to the ACE.

2. Beneficial Fats

Next on the endomorph diet food list are foods containing nutritious fats, which can help provide you with adequate fuel, according to the ACE.

Healthy fats to incorporate into your diet include:

  • Avocados
  • Tofu
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Fish like salmon
  • Oil like olive and flaxseed oil
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Olives

Tip

Certain endomorph-friendly diets — like the keto plan — may encourage eating high amounts of fat (more on that later), according to the NASM. Talk to your doctor before trying any diet, and listen to your body to best determine the best fat and protein balance for you.

3. Certain Carbs

While the endomorph body type may be more sensitive to carbs, this doesn't mean you should give up carbs altogether. Instead, include a moderate amount of nutrient-dense carbohydrates on your endomorph body type food list, according to the NASM.

Per the ACE, here are the best sources of carbs to add to your endomorph grocery list:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Unrefined grains like quinoa and amaranth
  • High-fiber starches like beans and lentils

Tip

Fruit is packed with nutritious natural carbohydrates, which is why it's an important part of most balanced diets. However, prioritizing veggies is typically best for those with endomorph body types, rather than eating fruit as your primary source of carbs, per the ACE.

Foods for Endomorphs to Avoid

On the flip side, there are certain ingredients to limit or avoid if you have an endomorph body type.

Here are foods to consider leaving off of your endomorph food list:

1. Sugary Snacks

Due to a tendency toward carbohydrate and insulin sensitivity, endomorph diets should limit sugary foods, according to the ACE.

This includes:

  • Baked goods like cakes and cookies
  • Candy
  • Soda

2. Refined Carbs

For the same reason, it's also best to limit or avoid refined carbs while following an endomorph diet, per the ACE.

Refined carbs to steer clear of include:

  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • White bread
  • White rice
  • White pasta

3. Processed, Fatty Foods

Finally, an endomorph diet should limit processed foods that contain less-nutritious forms of fat, per the ACE.

Processed foods include:

  • Fried food
  • Fast food
  • Chips
  • Baked goods

Tip

Limiting these foods isn't just recommended for endomorphs — it's also an important component of any balanced diet, according to the Mayo Clinic. As a result, you can limit these foods regardless of your body type.

Endomorph Diet Plans

In terms of macronutrient distribution, an ideal endomorph diet consists of 35 percent protein, 35 percent fat and 30 percent carbs, according to the ACE. That's because people with the endomorph body type tend to be more carb- and insulin-sensitive.

Here are some of the potential best diets for endomorphs:

1. Paleo Diet

Another solid endomorph body type diet is the paleo program. According to the Mayo Clinic, the paleo diet is a high-protein, low-carb plan that includes foods like:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish
  • Lean meat like chicken or turkey
  • Beneficial fats like olive oil or avocado

2. Keto Diet

The keto diet may be a good option for endomorphs, according to the NASM. The extremely low-carb, high-fat plan may help your body burn extra fat for fuel, per the Mayo Clinic.

The keto diet includes foods such as:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Full-fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish

Per the Mayo Clinic, at the same time, an endomorph on keto will restrict sources of carbohydrates like:

  • Grains like bread, pasta and cereals
  • Fruits
  • Starchy veggies like potatoes, peas and corn
  • Beans
  • Sweets
  • Beer

Tip

If you're considering paleo or keto for your endomorph body type, talk to your doctor before starting any weight-loss program to make sure it's the right one for you, per the Mayo Clinic.

Endomorphs and Weight Loss

If you're an endomorph, here's what you need to know about the physical and metabolic characteristics of this somatotype, and how they can affect your weight.

According to the ACE, people who are endomorphs generally have a medium or large bone structure, a round body, small shoulders and short limbs. Instead of carrying weight all over, endomorphs tend to carry it in their hips, thighs and lower abdomen.

In terms of metabolism, endomorphs tend to have a certain degree of carbohydrate and insulin sensitivity, per the ACE. This means that high-carb foods are quickly converted to sugar and are more likely to be stored as fat instead of being burned for energy.

This can result in a higher body fat percentage and a greater risk for health issues like cancer, hypertension, heart conditions, diabetes, infertility, gallbladder conditions and depression.

This is why a lower-carb, higher-protein diet is typically recommended for the endomorph body type. In fact, a low-carb diet may help you lose and maintain weight loss.

For instance, a November 2018 study in The BMJ found that cutting back on carbs may increase metabolism during weight-loss maintenance, especially among people with high insulin secretion.

The low-carb group had lower levels of ghrelin (a hormone that triggers appetite) and burned more calories throughout the day compared to the high-carb group. Levels of leptin — a hormone produced in the body's fat cells that regulates energy balance — were also lower in low-carb dieters.

What's more, protein-rich foods are more effective at suppressing appetite than fat and carbs, according to a March 2016 study in The Journal of Nutrition.

Another June 2017 study in Obesity Facts found that people on a high-protein diet lost significantly more weight compared to the standard protein group. The researchers noted that an increased intake of protein helps preserve lean mass when combined with exercise.

Tip

Your body type isn't set in stone, according to the NASM. Making lifestyle changes — like eating a more nutritious diet, practicing portion control or exercising regularly — can shift your body composition and potentially contribute to a current endomorph's weight loss.

Endomorph Workout Plan

Regular strength training workouts can help you build muscle.
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Whether or not your goal is weight loss, getting regular physical activity is important for your overall health and wellbeing, according to the Mayo Clinic.

When it comes to an endomorph diet and workout plan specifically, it's important to build a well-rounded fitness program that includes both cardio activities and strength training to help you burn calories, build muscle and support your metabolism, according to the ACE.

According to an August 2016 study in the ​Diabetes & Metabolism Journal​, regular exercise can also significantly improve insulin sensitivity for people with type 2 diabetes.

According to the ACE, here's how often an endomorph should work out:

While building muscle may not be too difficult, endomorphs that exercise still may find it difficult to get lean, according to the ACE. Building more active muscle tissue helps increase your resting metabolic rate and causes your body to burn fat as fuel.

In terms of weight training, the ACE suggests focusing on the large muscle groups, like your legs, back, arms and core. Opt for compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Keep the number of repetitions high and the amount of rest between sets minimal.

Here is an endomorph workout from ACE. Try to do three repetitions of the whole routine.

  • Squats with overhead press:​ 50 seconds
  • Rest:​ 10 seconds
  • Stationary lunge with lateral raise (right leg in front):​ 50 seconds
  • Rest:​ 10 seconds
  • Stationary lunge with lateral raise (left leg in front):​ 50 seconds
  • Rest:​ 10 seconds
  • Plié squats or upright row (dumbbells or kettlebell):​ 50 seconds
  • Rest:​ 10 seconds
  • Push-ups with single-leg knee drives:​ 50 seconds
  • Rest:​ 10 seconds
  • Plank with triceps extension (dumbbells):​ 50 seconds
  • Rest:​ 10 seconds
  • Alternate step-ups with hammer curls:​ 50 seconds
  • Rest:​ 10 seconds

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