Foods to Avoid for a Pear-Shaped Body

Woman looking at stack of donuts in awe
An excess of fat isn't good for any body type, especially pears. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A person with a pear-shaped body tends to gain weight in the hips and thighs, which is physiologically healthy but aesthetically frustrating. Eating too much of any food is an obvious cause of weight gain -- but too many fat calories are a sure way to store unwanted fat quickly for a pear-shaped body. While you shouldn't avoid fat entirely, you may want to moderate your fat intake and focus on consuming mostly healthy carbohydrates and proteins.

About Body Shape

Although everyone is an individual, body shapes can be roughly pooled into three types: apples, who have a round middle and spindly legs; chili peppers or carrots, who are basically straight up and down without definable curves; and pears, who store weight in the hips and thighs while their middles and upper bodies remain relatively slim. When pears gain weight, it goes straight to the hips and stays there stubbornly, refusing to budge despite diet and exercise efforts.

The good news is that the fat stored by pears is known as "passive" fat and is potentially health-promoting in terms of your insulin resistance and cholesterol levels. The bad news is that losing passive fat takes significant effort because it's a protective mechanism for the body to support reproduction. It is also possible that this fat gets less blood supply than other types of fat in the body and therefore can't be broken down and carried out as readily.

Weight Gain Causes

When you eat more calories than you burn daily, you gain weight. For a pear, this means expansion of the hips, butt and thighs. Fatty foods, particularly those loaded with saturated or trans fat, are dense in calories and push this calorie intake up quickly. Your body stores fat calories readily, so you're better off focusing on whole grains, vegetables, legumes and beans as well as lean proteins, including white-meat chicken, white fish, tofu and egg whites.

Saturated fat is found in animal fat -- particularly fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy -- as well as in processed foods. Trans fats, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned as a food additive, are human-made, shelf-stable fats used by food manufacturers to make foods of optimal texture and mouth feel. These fats are being phased out through 2018, so avoid anything with "partially hydrogenated" oil as an ingredient, which indicates trans fats are still an ingredient.

Healthy Fat Intake

Even though you're keeping fat in check, about 25 percent of your calories should come from this macronutrient. Healthy unsaturated fats, found in avocados, nuts, salmon and seeds, support proper vitamin absorption, healthy hair and skin and organ cushioning. Your body needs ample amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly prevalent in fatty fish, flaxseeds and walnuts, to support brain health and growth.

To get these healthy fats without going overboard, add a tablespoon of peanut butter to oatmeal at breakfast; slice one-quarter of an avocado on a salad at lunch; and toss vegetables in an olive oil-based marinade at dinner. Basically, aim for about one serving of good fat at each meal -- a tablespoon of liquid fats or an ounce of nuts.

Don't Discount Exercise

All the dieting and fat moderation won't help if you live a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise helps you burn calories and can mobilize fat loss in stubborn areas. Cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging or a dance class, along with weight training helps make your body more metabolically capable of slimming down.

Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week, with two total-body strength-training sessions on nonconsecutive days. Focus extra work on building the muscle in the upper body, too. This helps you build calorie-burning muscle and can give the illusion of a more balanced physique.

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