Pear-shaped bodies are associated with better health compared to other body types. Most women in America are pear shaped, but most men are apple shaped. Unfortunately, it's not possible to selectively target specific types of body fat, which means that there is no diet for a pear-shaped figure.
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Body Fat, Shape and Health
In general, you want your body fat to be as minimal as possible. This isn't only for aesthetic purposes, but because body fat can increase your risk for various diseases, including metabolic disorders and cardiovascular problems. A January 2016 study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology even found that body fat distribution can affect your risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Diets based on body type were popularized by the book Apples & Pears: The Body Shape Solution, written by Dr. Marie Savard. This book focuses on the two most common body types: Apple-shaped bodies and pear-shaped bodies. Although the American Council on Exercise recognizes that there are multiple body types (namely, apple, pear, hourglass and carrot), these body types are primarily due to your hormones, rather than the foods that you're consuming.
A pear-shaped body essentially describes a body that primarily stores gluteofemoral fat. This essentially means that you have more fat around your buttocks, thighs and legs than you do in the rest of your body.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, this type of shape is much healthier for you than other body types. Body fat that is stored lower down on your body may help reduce bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve insulin sensitivity and lower your blood sugar levels.
The benefits of having a pear-shaped body are still being debated. However, this body type is generally thought to be healthier thanks to the fat cells in the gluteofemoral region of your body. These fat cells tend to absorb harmful fatty acids that you may obtain from the foods you ingest, removing them from your bloodstream. Gluteofemoral fat cells also produce beneficial chemicals for your body, like leptin and adiponectin.
In contrast, fat cells in your upper body will absorb these fatty acids too, but they often then release them back into the bloodstream when you experience an adrenaline response or other forms of stress. Fat in your abdominal region produces chemicals that are more likely to release cytokines and trigger harmful inflammatory responses within your body.
Female and Male Body Types
According to a May 2012 study in the Biology of Sex Differences, your body fat — specifically, your BMI (or body mass index) — is directly associated with your health. However, body fat isn't a very straightforward subject.
Women typically have 10 percent more body fat than men. Although this could imply that women are more likely to be prone to weight-related diseases than men, their natural body type is protective against many of those conditions.
This pear-shaped body type, which involves the accumulation of less stomach fat and more glutofemoral fat, is thought to help protect against Type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and a variety of other conditions.
Although your body accumulates fat based on what you eat, your fat distribution is affected by other factors. For instance, your sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, play a major role in fat accumulation and may affect your body type as you age. Similarly, tissues and organs that affect the release of sex steroids can play a role in fat distribution.
Genetics also affect your body type, but so can epigenetics. Regular intensive exercise (like competitive swimming or running starting at a young age) or, in contrast, excessive consumption of food, can influence your body fat amount and its distribution.
Pear-Shaped Body Diet Macronutrients
There are many factors that can influence your fat accumulation and its distribution throughout your body. However, there's unfortunately no such thing as a pear-shaped body diet.
If you're concerned about your fat accumulation, you're likely best off following a healthy diet and incorporating more exercise into your daily routine. It's exercise, rather than diet, that is most likely to affect your fat distribution if you're already consuming healthy foods.
A healthy diet typically incorporates a balanced amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat. This usually means eating around 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates, 12 to 20 percent protein and 30 percent fat.
However, there are a variety of different macronutrient ratios that you can consume instead to help reduce body fat. Adjusting your macronutrients and following high-protein, high-carbohydrate or low-fat diets can all help support weight loss.
Pear-Shaped Body and Dietary Changes
Since the pear-shaped body diet is associated with higher levels of estrogen. Therefore, the American Council on Exercise recommends for people with pear-shaped bodies to avoid foods that may increase estrogen production.
These include foods like nonorganic meats, caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, fat-rich dairy products and unfermented soy products. Consuming organic animal products, minimal amounts of fat from oils and large amounts of fiber may be able to keep estrogen levels stable and prevent excessive weight gain.
If you aren't following a healthy diet and are concerned about your body fat, you may also need to consider consuming fewer calories. Alternatively, you may simply need to consume fewer calorie-dense foods, like those rich in sugars (especially added sugars), refined carbohydrates, and saturated and trans fats.
Keep in mind that these unhealthy foods like trans fats can contribute to fat accumulation in just about anyone. Removing such foods from your diet essentially means cutting down on the processed and junk foods you're consuming.
Food Types Affecting Fat Distribution
Many different diets can support healthy weight loss. However, you should be aware that specific food types may also affect your body fat accumulation and distribution.
According to a June 2013 study from the Obesity Journal, people who consume foods with a higher glycemic index are more likely to store body fat compared to those consuming foods with a lower glycemic index. This study also found that consumption of low glycemic index foods could promote weight loss and, specifically, fat loss, even if you consume a diet based around carbohydrates.
If you're not familiar with the glycemic index, this scale refers to how slowly or quickly foods release glucose. Foods with a low glycemic index tend to be unprocessed, unrefined and are rich in dietary fiber.
Some examples of lower glycemic index foods include whole fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, like oatmeal or whole wheat bread. In contrast, high glycemic index foods include juices, pancakes, waffles and cereal with milk or yogurt.
The type of fat you consume can also influence the fat accumulation in your body. A small January 2014 study in the Diabetes Journal found that healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids are likely to promote the formation of lean tissue in your body. In contrast, unhealthy saturated fats are likely to accumulate in your body as fat that ends up stored in your liver and as visceral fat.
- Diabetes: "Overfeeding Polyunsaturated and Saturated Fat Causes Distinct Effects on Liver and Visceral Fat Accumulation in Humans"
- Obesity: "Effects of Diet Macronutrient Composition on Body Composition and Fat Distribution During Weight Maintenance and Weight Loss"
- Kaiser Permanente: "Balancing Carbs, Protein, and Fat"
- Biology of Sex Differences: "Sex Differences in Human Adipose Tissues – The Biology of Pear Shape"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Big Thighs May Be Wise"
- Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology: "Body Fat Distribution and Risk of Incident and Regressed Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease"
- Cell Metabolism: "Apple or Pear: Size and Shape Matter"
- Havard Health Publishing: "Glycemic Index for 60+ Foods"
- American Council on Exercise: "Are You an Apple or a Pear? How to Eat for Specific Body Types"
- Apples & Pears: The Body Shape Solution for Weight Loss and Wellness