Each of us is blessed (or cursed) with a body that is a creation of both our genes and our habits. While we can change our habits, there’s no escaping our genes.
Our bodies come in different shapes and sizes, each of which requires different kinds of food and activity.
In very fancy terms, and in the words of Harvard psychologist William H. Sheldon, there are three basic body types:
THE ECTOMORPH or the lean-and-mean body type:
Ectomorphs are favoured with a quick metabolism and have enviably slender bodies (bordering on skinny with little fat). They have lean frames and narrow hips. Which is great if you’re a woman considering a supermodel career. Not so great when you’re a man working at a chiseled and sinewy body.
The ideal workout for this body type would be short and intense training, focusing mainly on big muscle groups. Any kind of resistance training is good. Swimming is also good exercise for this body type.
Ectomorphs need to consume a large number of calories in order to gain weight. The happy news is that carbs are one of the best foods for this body type, and should form a majority of their diet. Unprocessed carbs are better. Workouts should be complemented with generous protein intake. And because the Ectomorph metabolism functions on high gear, it’s a good idea for them to eat every couple of hours.
THE MESOMORPH or the strong-and-steady body type
Unlike Ectopmorphs, the Mesomorph body has a larger bone structure, big muscles and is naturally athletic. Think Greek Gods and sports models. Even when they gain weight, the weight spreads itself evenly. Mesomorphs are strong and have a good metabolism that helps them lose fat and build muscle easily.
The best kind of exercise for Mesomorphs is athletic and strength training, which gives their kind of metabolism the right workout. They’re high on stamina and excel in different kinds of sports.
Because Mesomorphs can gain (and lose) weight easily, a lot depends on their calorie intake. Mesomorphs need to watch their intake of carbs. Depending on how strenuously a mesomorph works out, their diet should focus on protein and healthy fats.
THE ENDOMORPH or the big-and-beautiful body type
The Endomorph trademark is a slow metabolism. Quick to gain fat and muscle, this body type has a sturdy frame and heavy bones. While they gain quickly, the Endomorph loses very slowly and a lack of activity can lead to obesity.
This body type needs a generous amount of exercise to stay healthy and in shape. A strong balance of cardio (for stamina and heart health), athletic training (for agility) and resistance training with heavier weights (for strength and shape) is what works for the Endomorph.
Endomorphs must complement their exercise with a healthy diet. They need to eat fibre rich meals and avoid the lure of junk food. Their protein and fat should be in keeping with their workout plan, and carbs should stay low. Endomorphs need plenty of water to aid their digestion.
The trick to staying healthy and fit is accepting that we can’t completely change what nature gave us. It’s important to acknowledge our body type, eat to suit it and find a workout plan that both engages our minds as well as exercises our bodies the right way.