People with a mesomorph body type should consider themselves lucky. With a naturally athletic physique, they tend to have less fat and more lean muscle mass, even without trying. But mesomorphs can put on weight when they're not careful. The good news is that with the right mesomorph diet, the weight comes off easily.
The Mesomorph Body Type
Mesomorphs fall right in the middle, body type-wise. But don't mistake that for mediocrity. The medium bone structure with broad shoulders, good posture and a narrow waist, make the mesomorph body type the ideal.
This differs vastly from ectomorphs, who tend to have small bones and muscles. They have low body fat and quick metabolisms, and they have trouble putting on weight and muscle. In the weightlifting world, they're called "hardgainers." However, they also can eat pasta with abandon.
On the other end of the spectrum, endomorphs have large bones and, like mesomorphs, they can pack on muscle fairly easily. But they typically have slow metabolisms and can pack on fat just as easily.
The in Between
The truth is, aside from Superman and David Beckham, most people fall somewhere in the middle and are either mesomorph-ectomorph or mesomorph-endomorph. If you're in the latter group, you're going to need to watch your diet more carefully than a mesomorph-ectomorph.
This means balancing your calorie intake with your activity level so that you're not in a calorie surplus. Although many factors contribute to weight gain, genetics and hormones among them, the general concept is that eating too many calories leads to excess fat storage.
Gaining and Losing Weight
If you're eating too many calories, and you're not working out or not working out enough, your body doesn't need the extra calories for energy or for building muscle mass. If you tip the body composition scales, your metabolism may slow down, because fat is less metabolically active than fat.
So you have to shift the scales by eating less and exercising more. But the good news is you don't need to go crazy, nor will you have to wait a long time to see the tables begin to turn. While endomorphs and ectomorphs can struggle for years with their weight, mesomorphs rarely have to work that hard to see results.
Mesomorph Calorie Needs
To balance your calories, you need to figure out how many calories you should be eating, which takes into consideration your resting energy expenditure (RMR or REE), the calories your body burns just existing, breathing, digesting and so on, and your activity level. Although calorimetry is the gold standard for measuring calorie expenditure, most people don't have access to a whole-body calorimeter. The next best thing is the Mifflin St-Jeor Equation:
For men: 9.99 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 4.92 x age + 5
For women: 9.99 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 4.92 x age – 161
Next, you have to multiple your BMR by an activity factor to get your final number. Activity factors are:
- Sedentary: Little to no exercise and a desk job — 1.2
- Light activity: light exercise/sports one to three days per week — 1.375
- Moderate activity: Moderate-intensity sports/exercise three to five days per week — 1.55
- Very active: Vigorous exercise six or seven days a week — 1.725
- Extremely active: Vigorous exercise/sports each day and a physical job — 1.9
If your RMR is 1,757, for example, and you are moderately active, you need 2,723 calories each day.
Mesomorph Macros Requirements
Calories aren't the only thing that can make or break a mesomorph diet. The three macros, carbs, protein and fat, all supply your body with energy, contribute to muscle building and have various other critical functions in the body. But not everybody needs the same amount of each.
That's why the recommended daily intake for the general population, established by the National Academy of Medicine, provides AMDRs, or acceptable macronutrient ranges. These are:
- Carbohydrates: 45 to 65 percent of daily calories
- Protein: 10 to 35 percent
- Fat: 20 to 35 percent
This gives all body types room to tweak their diets to their specific needs. According to Tiffani Bachus, R.D.N., and Erin Macdonald, R.D.N., mesomorphs need a slightly higher protein intake to support their increased muscle mass. Carbohydrate intake should be adjusted to your activity level since carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy. But as a general guideline, Bachus and Macdonald suggest dividing your meals into equal parts lean protein, carbohydrates and/or fat and vegetables/fruit.
Mesomorph Meal Plan
It's not necessary for mesomorphs to follow any fancy fad diets, severely limiting or cutting out entire food groups. All you need to do is eat healthy. This means:
- Limiting or avoiding sugar in foods and beverages
- Avoiding processed, fried and fast foods
- Choosing whole grains over refined grains
- Eating lean sources of protein from chicken, fish, eggs, lean meats and legumes
- Filling up on fiber from whole grains and vegetables
- Getting healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, fish, nuts and seeds
Although mesomorphs don't need to count calories as carefully as endomorphs, portion control will help you stay within your calorie budget. Ryan Andrews, M.S., RD, suggests using your hands as a guide at mealtime to get just the right serving size.
For mesomorph men, Andrews recommends at each meal:
- Two palms of protein foods, such as chicken
- Two fists of vegetables
- Two cupped handfuls of carbs, such as brown rice
- Two thumbs of fats, such as olive oil
For mesomorph women:
- One palm of protein
- One fist of vegetables
- One cupped handful of carbs
- One thumb of fats
Physical Activity for Mesomorphs
Regular physical activity is good for your health, but it also helps keep your calories in check and your metabolism revving, so you can get back to your ideal weight and stay there. Bacchus and Macdonald recommend three to five 30- to 45-minute sessions of cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, swimming, rowing or stair climbing each week. Make two to three of those sessions interval training workouts, in which you alternate periods of intense effort with periods of recovery. The other workouts can be more moderate-intensity steady-state activity.
Even though mesomorphs naturally have more lean muscle mass, they should still strength train. The more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolism. A high proportion of lean mass to fat mass makes it much easier to manage your weight.
According to Bacchus and Macdonald , the best mesomorph workout plan involves lifting moderate to heavy weights five days a week to stimulate muscle growth. Do three or four exercises per muscle group, sets of eight to 12 reps and keep rest breaks short. And be sure to allow plenty of time for recovery.
- ACE: How to Eat and Train for a Mesomorph Body Type
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Other Factors in Weight Gain
- University of New Mexico: Controversies in Metabolism
- ACE: Resting Metabolic Rate: Best Ways to Measure It—and Raise It, Too
- UC Denver: Estimating Energy Needs for Research Diets
- National Academy of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- Precision Nutrition: Body Type Eating: Find Out Whether It's Right for You