Everyone's body is unique, but your shape usually falls into one of three specific categories: ectomorph, endomorph or mesomorph. Ectomorphs tend to be long and lean, while endomorphs are rounder and fuller. Mesomorphs fall somewhere in between -- they appear naturally muscular with a solid frame. People rarely fall definitively into one of these somatotypes; instead, they are usually a combination of two body types, with one shape more dominant than the other.
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Your body type does more than distinguish your shape; it also affects the way you gain weight, react to exercise and respond to different foods. The right diet can maximize the naturally athletic appearance of a woman who's dominantly mesomorphic.
Managing Your Mesomorphic Body Type
An active woman with a medium bone structure who has a fairly easy time developing lean muscle is likely a mesomorph. Famous examples of mesomorphic women include tennis star Serena Williams and volleyballer Gabrielle Reese. If you're a mesomorph, your proportions are usually balanced, so you have enviably wide shoulders and a narrow waist. Many gymnasts, figure competitors and tennis players fall into this body type.
The right training helps a mesomorph acquire muscle and low body fat levels rather easily compared to the other body types. Conversely, you can also put on pounds quickly if you don't pay close attention to exercise and diet. Maintaining a healthy weight as a mesomorph also helps shield you from chronic disease. A study published in Reviews on Environmental Health in 2002 showed that mesomorphic women who have some endomorphic attributes -- such as higher body fat -- were more vulnerable to developing high blood pressure.
To achieve lower body fat levels, perform regular cardiovascular exercise for 30 to 45 minutes three to five times per week. If your goal is to become leaner and lose extra fat, perform high-intensity interval training at a couple of these workouts weekly. HIIT involves alternating short bouts of high-intensity cardio with short bouts of lower-intensity work.
Macrontrient Breakdown for a Mesomorph Diet
A balanced intake of macronutrients helps a mesomorph maintain a healthy weight and lean frame. Divide your calories fairly equally among the macronutrients -- fats, carbohydrates and protein. If you measure your macronutrient intake, specifically aim for 30 to 40 percent of your calories to come from carbohydrates, 30 percent fat and 30 percent protein. This higher-than-average protein intake supports the greater amount of muscle you tend to carry and helps you add more, if that's your goal.
An easy way to plan meals is to "eyeball" portions so that each plate includes a palm-sized serving of protein, a cupped handful of whole-grain carbohydrates or fruit, a fistful of watery, fibrous vegetables, and a thumb-size serving of a healthy fat.
Healthy Meals for a Female Mesomorph
When you're filling the first third of your plate, choose protein sources that contain little saturated fat and include eggs, salmon, white-meat poultry, white fish or lean beef. For carbs, avoid refined, sugary ones, such as white bread, soda and desserts. Instead, choose whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes and winter squash, as well as fresh fruits. Watery, fibrous vegetables also provide you with carbohydrates in the form of fiber -- to help you stay full -- and phytonutrients to support muscle recovery and good health. Choose quality fats such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, fatty fish and avocados.
Sample meals for an mesomorph might include lean flank steak with brown rice and steamed broccoli topped with a few tablespoons of sliced almonds; a large green salad made with raw vegetables, grilled chicken, sliced avocado and a few woven wheat crackers; or a bowl of steel-cut oats topped with plain Greek yogurt, a sprinkle of walnuts and fresh blueberries.
Eating to Support Exercise
As a mesomorph, you may find you can eat more calories than some of your endomorphic friends. This is because the higher amount of muscle you carry requires more caloric energy to support.
Before and after exercise is the best time for a mesomorph to consume carbohydrate-dense foods. You should still have a small amount of protein at these meals -- a little less pre-workout and a little more post-workout.
If it's been several hours since your last meal, you'll need a pre-workout snack. A banana with a small container of low-fat yogurt or half a whole-grain bagel topped with nut butter are good choices to give you energy to exercise. After a workout, you need carbohydrates to replace energy stores and protein to support muscle repair. Have a smoothie made with Greek yogurt, fruit and almond milk or two hard-boiled eggs with a whole-wheat English muffin, for example.