Somatotypes, Part Two: Endomorphs

In part one of this three-part blog series, we discussed the Ectomorph body type. Today, in part two of the series, we’ll focus on reviewing the Endomorph somatotype, and continue to dive deeper into the characteristics of each somatotype to help you learn how to combat common pitfalls and maximize your potential.

WHAT IS AN ENDOMORPH?  Endo- (within; inside)   -morph (shape; form)

Have you ever asked yourself?

  • Why do I tend to store body fat so easily?
  • Why is it so hard to lose weight compared to most individuals around me?
  • Why does it feel like I gain five pounds simply from looking at a pizza?

If you can relate to any of the questions above (*raises hand*), you may be classified as an endomorph.

Which means you may also relate to…

Endomorphs tend to gain both muscle and body fat more readily but may have a difficult time losing fat throughout their lifetime. This differs from individuals who generally relate to other somatotypes but have since gained mass from an unhealthy diet or sedentary lifestyle. Also, many individuals exhibit a combination of somatotypes but typically one type is dominant.   Tweet This! For instance, an individual may retain body fat easily with shorter limbs (endomorph) but have an overall athletic frame (mesomorph). Characteristics of classic endomorphs include:

  • Larger frame (bone structure)
  • Smooth, round body
  • Curvy or pear shaped
  • More body fat than most
  • Narrow shoulders and wider hips
  • Slim ankles and wrists
  • Shorter limbs
  • Carry most weight in lower abdomen, hips and thighs

As it relates to weight management, we endomorphs tend to get a bad rap. This somatotype tends to store energy more efficiently than others, which makes us less efficient at burning energy for fuel. In other words, we retain body fat and have a bit of trouble burning it off. On the bright side, we are efficient at building muscle. Most professional power lifters and linebackers are characteristic of endomorphs! This may not sound appealing to you primarily, but building muscle can aid in weight management.   Tweet This! We’ll discuss this in more detail below.

WHAT TO EAT.

Endomorphs thrive from adhering to a diet rich in lean protein, fruits and vegetables, along with a reasonable amount of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Since endomorphs have a natural propensity to store energy (especially when sedentary), consuming large portions of any macronutrients in general are disadvantageous for our somatotype. Closely monitoring our calorie intake is crucial for endomorphs.

 

PROTEIN.

Protein supports the development, repair and maintenance of lean muscle tissue in the body. Protein also helps keep you fuller longer (increases satiety), which lessens your risk of overeating and consuming too many calories. However not all protein is created equal. Some protein sources contain high amounts of saturated fats, which increases your risk of heart disease if consumed frequently. A diet rich in lean protein sources with each meal and snack is highly suggested for endomorphs no matter what your fitness or weight management goals may be.

Lean protein sources for Endomorphs include:

  • Tofu, beans, lentils, nuts
  • Seafood (grilled salmon or herring)
  • Turkey (boneless, skinless)
  • Chicken (boneless, skinless)
  • Beef ( ≥ 92 percent lean/8 percent fat), round steak or top sirloin cuts
  • Greek yogurt

FATS.

It may sound contradictory, but healthy fats should also be regularly incorporated into the daily diet of an endomorph. Dietary fats play a role in the production of hormones, provide insulation and are also used as an alternative energy source for the body. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthy in moderation but limit your consumption of saturated fats.

  • Extra virgin olive or coconut oil, 1 tsp.
  • Nuts or seeds, 1 oz.
  • Avocado, 1/3 medium size

CARBOHYDRATES.

Your body utilizes carbohydrates as its primary source of energy and stores this fuel in the body in the form of glycogen as an energy reserve because it is readily available. If this energy is not used immediately, it is stored as body fat to help maintain body weight. Although proteins and fats are used as secondary sources of energy for the body, your brain needs to function on fuel derived from carbohydrates. You can incorporate carbohydrates into your diet from fruits, vegetables, and complex carb sources.

Vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, should be included in every meal (at least three servings) and one to two servings of fruit per day.   Tweet This! These low-calorie foods provide the vitamins, minerals and fiber an endomorph requires for proper maintenance and function.

It is not necessary to include certain types of carbohydrates in in every single meal and snack you consume. Refined carbohydrate foods like pastries, white bread, and many breakfast cereals in are disadvantageous to endomorphs due to their influence on our blood sugar levels. Due to these effects, diets high in refined carbohydrates can increase cravings.

Not to mention, endomorphs are remarkably more likely to store carbohydrates as fats when consumed in excess compared to the other somatotypes. Replace these foods with high-fiber choices which slow the absorption of excess dietary fats, increase satiation, and help lower cholesterol levels. Another strategy is to consume carbohydrate dense foods (in modest portions) earlier in the day or before/after a workout.

 

Carbohydrate sources for endomorphs include:

  • Vegetables (dark leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, zucchini/squash, broccoli, etc.)
  • Fruits (whole fruits)
  • High-fiber complex carbs (oatmeal, whole grains, quinoa)
  • Beans and legumes

There is not an exact percentage of macronutrients endomorphs should consume each day, but endomorphs typically fair well with appropriately regulating and timing carbohydrate portions. Remember, each body is different! After some time if you find you are not leaning out as you wish, I recommend adjusting portions from carbohydrate-dense foods or fruit by gradually decreasing calories from those sources. If your goal is to bulk, increase your carbohydrate portions.

A good starting point for ratios of protein/carbohydrates/fats:

  • Protein: 40 percent
  • Carbs: 25 percent
  • Fats: 35 percent

More tips…

  • Eat a high-protein breakfast
  • Consume 25-30 grams of fiber each day
  • Slightly reduce meal portions on rest days
  • Avoid crash dieting
  • Limit alcohol
  • Track your caloric intake by keeping a food journal

BEST PRACTICES FOR EXERCISE.

As a general rule, training frequently at a moderate to high intensity with combination of both resistance and aerobic exercises throughout our lifetime are crucial for endomorphs.

RESISTANCE/WEIGHT TRAINING.

To begin, weight training helps increase muscle mass, which further increases basal metabolic rate and ultimately helps us burn more calories. Since endomorphs are efficient with packing on muscle, this works to our advantage!

Concentrate on muscle-strengthening activities, working all major muscle groups (legs, back, chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps). Compound lifts employ multiple muscle groups, ensuring maximum muscle recruitment and increases calorie expenditure. These types of lifts are instrumental to burning more calories.

Some examples of compound exercises include:

  • bench press
  • barbell rows
  • tricep dips
  • shoulder press
  • lat pull-downs
  • lunges
  • squats
  • deadlifts

These can be performed with barbells, dumbbells, cables, or body weight. If you are a beginner perform 3 to 5 sets per exercise with lighter weights. Perform 12-20 repetitions with 30 to 45 seconds of rest between each set. Perform several of these exercises two to three times per week.

AEROBIC EXERCISES.

Given that our bodies are a little less efficient at burning energy and body fat, cardiovascular exercises should be incorporated almost daily to stay lean. As endomorphs, we want to increase our energy expenditure since our bodies, especially when sedentary, will store energy as fat. Suggestions for cardiovascular exercises include a combination of:

  • 30-60 minutes of medium intensity (or steady) cardio, at least three days a week. Steady cardio exercises facilitate with calorie burn during a workout.
  • 20-30 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), two to three days a week. This type of cardio consists of a brief period of high intensity exercise (sprints, jump rope, stair climbs), followed by a short period of rest repeatedly.  HIIT helps with calorie burn long after a workout.
  • Incorporate active rest days into your workout routine. It is imperative that endomorphs say active.

DO NOT GIVE UP!

As a fellow Endomorph, I know firsthand how laborious managing your weight may seem. Ultimately, your behaviors and choices affect whether you progress in your fitness journey. Our somatotype is not a justification for us not to accomplish our fitness goals. The journey may be longer and more challenging but is not unattainable.

How do I know?

Because at one point I not only met my fitness goals, but I exceeded them significantly. This process did not come easy. I had to first accept my body the way I was created and embrace my frame. I realized that I could not miraculously transform into the naturally defined muscular frame of a mesomorph – and that’s okay! Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes and what’s more, not all smaller framed bodies are healthy internally (hence the phrase “skinny fat” – individuals who are metabolically obese at a normal weight). I also changed my perspective of my fitness journey, and I just have different caloric and fitness needs than others. Last, but certainly not least, I discovered that in order to experience change, I had to be persistent and completely dedicated for the long haul.

In other words, the key to managing your weight is a great deal of patience, hard work and a true lifelong commitment.


References

acefitness.org
britannica.com