Dr. Elissa Naim
In the 1940s William H. Sheldon, an American psychologist, introduced the concept of morphotype. Since then, nutritionists, physiologists and even doctors have used it to develop individualized fitness plans. Some argue that knowing the morphotype will guide you to the best way of choosing your diet and even your exercise program. Is categorization by morphotype a myth or a reality?
WHAT IS A MORPHOTYPE?
It has started with an observation: humans have varied morphologies: Is there a cause and effect relationship between morphology and eating habits? Morphotypes are a taxonomy to classify the human physique according to the relative contribution of three fundamental elements which Sheldon called "somatotypes": Ectomorph, Endomorph or Mesomorph.
Little body fat as well as little muscle, people with the ectomorphic morphotype are flexible with thin bones and long limbs. They can eat what they want without gaining weight. They have a fast and efficient metabolism, as well as difficulty gaining weight. Ectomorphs are hyperactive and strive to increase muscle mass. Models, ballerinas and basketball players generally belong to this group.
Although ectomorphs tend to be highly valued, it should be remembered that they have their own problems. Hence, males struggle to gain muscle mass and may appear stiff. Females tend to have flat breasts and may complain that they look masculine. These people have to work very hard to achieve their goals.
Worthnoting that with age, the ultrafast metabolism of ectomorphs slows down and, as a result, they sometimes gain weight if they are not used to exercising and monitoring their calorie intake.
An average size, mesomorphs can easily develop muscles and little fat. They are generally strong and muscular, without excess weight. They are characterized by a strong athletic body. Men have often wider shoulders than their hips and women tend to have an hourglass figure. Mesomorphs can have no trouble eating what they want because they can easily lose weight. Mesomorphs could be considered genetically lucky people. Generally, tennis players, skaters and bodybuilders are part of this group.
Pear-shaped physique, people with an endomorphic morphotype have a curvilinear physique with the characteristics opposite to ectomorphs. They have a slow metabolism, gain weight easily and have to work hard to lose body fat. Endomorphs most often have a larger size and have hips wider than the shoulders. They have a higher percentage of body fat with less muscle mass. They are very often heavier, but not necessarily obese. No stress! Some of the sexiest and most beautiful singers and actresses as well as many heroes of action movies are endomorphs.
WHAT IS THE INFLUENCE OF MORPHOTYPE ON WORKOUT AND DIET?
Ectomorphs are effective in converting carbohydrates into energy and their rapid metabolism means that they burn fat easily. The downside is that they have trouble gaining muscle because their muscle fibers are underdeveloped. No worries! To become more muscular, they must minimize cardio sessions and focus on intense workouts using compound exercises to maximize the release of growth hormone. They are advised to eat every two to three hours.They also need to consume about 3,000 calories per day, including a large amount of starchy carbohydrates and whey protein, possibly in the form of supplements.
Mesomorphs have the best body type for gaining muscle. However, they tend to take their naturally athletic forms for granted, which can lead to diluted workouts and poor nutrition. Maintaining optimal physical condition means following a progressive plan that will make you stronger by increasing your power without becoming too bulky.To fuel your workouts, you should eat lots of whole grains, while limiting your total fat intake. You can indulge in exercises like sprinting, high jump and boxing.
The endomorph is the most difficult body type to manage in terms of weight and fitness management. For a more balanced physique, you need to focus on developing the shoulders and removing excess fat from the lower body. A low to medium intensity cardio program will help you get rid of fat. Although aerobics is recommended by specialists, weight lifting training is preferable too because it can burn calories long after the last exercise. The best diet for your body type may therefore be a higher percentage of protein and fat and a lower percentage of carbohydrates. This diet can help you lose body fat while maintaining your energy level.
Remember that somatotypes are just a way to describe your body constitution, but the truth is that you have to design your training program and diet based on the goals you want to achieve. No matter what the scale says, if you’re in a healthy body-composition range, you’re doing well!