If you want to lose fat and gain muscle, you need to understand your body type first
Most people can slot their overall build into one of three general categories.
Body composition is liberating because it gives you something to focus on in a good way—lean body mass. There’s no need to worry about the scale if you’re in a healthy body-composition range.
But that composition range depends on your goals. If you’re a competitive athlete, your aim is likely the lower end of the body-fat percentage scale, which ranges from 6 to 25 percent for men for optimal health.
But don’t get too hung up on trimming every little ounce. You are never gunning for zero fat, and lower isn’t always better.
If you’re at the lower end of the body-fat spectrum and you’re fit, you’re not going to gain performance benefits by focusing on fat loss. And you might even make yourself sick.
So to get the results you actually want, you need to understand your body type. Here’s how to begin.
You tend to be long limbed and not particularly muscular. You can be “skinny fat,” meaning you’re a relatively low weight and/or small size, yet still have high body fat.
If you’re an ectomorph, you’re the body type that is the most resistant to weight gain because of a fast metabolism, so you’re often able to overeat while gaining little or even no weight.
People with this body type have little observable body fat, are only lightly muscled, and have a small frame (and joints). Basically, your genetic makeup limits your ability to put on muscle mass.
When training, focus on power and resistance training to build strength. To maximize body composition as an ectomorph, eat good-quality fats with moderate protein intake of 25 to 30 grams per meal (four meals per day if you have a pre-training mini-meal) along with good-quality carbohydrates.
You easily build muscle mass and you are generally proportionally built.
If you’re a mesomorph, you can lose and gain weight easily, are able to build muscle quickly, and usually boast an upright posture. This body type tends to have a long torso and short limbs.
You excel in explosive sports—sports calling for power and speed—because of the type of muscles you possess.
Mesomorphs have a higher percentage of fast-twitch fibers and will gain muscle mass more quickly than any other body type. Basically, your genetic makeup suits power and strength.
For training, focus on moderate endurance training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and plyometrics.
To maximize body composition as a mesomorph, eat good-quality fats with moderate carbohydrates and consider timing your protein and branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) intake.
You are generally softer and rounder and tend to store fat easily.
Endomorphs naturally tend to have fuller figures and struggle to keep their body-fat percentage in check.
Once you know you are an endomorph and that you were born this way, it can be difficult to come to the realization that you are likely to gain weight very easily.
You have the type of metabolism that is not forgiving. However, this doesn’t mean you are destined to be overweight or even obese. As an endomorph, you have to make a conscious, concerted effort to do the things your body should be doing for you automatically.
If your body isn’t instinctively telling you to move more, you have to make sure that exercise is part of your daily routine. If your metabolism is sluggish, you need to eat the right foods that will fire up your metabolism.
For training, high-intensity activities such as HIIT or a CrossFit workout are great options, as are weight training and moderate endurance training. As an endomorph, eat good-quality fats and protein and limit your carbohydrate intake to maximize body composition and to control insulin and blood sugar.
Source: Men’s HealthStacy T. Sims, Ph.D., is an environmental exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist. She is currently a senior research fellow at the University of Waikato.