William Sheldon, a psychologist, introduced the taxonomy of somatotypes in the 1940s where he grouped the human physique into 3 categories (endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph). Sheldon theorized that body types predict moral worth, success in life and intelligence. Although the psychological bindings have long been abandoned, the physical taxonomy has persisted.
The current idea is that if you are a tall, lean, ectomorph, you should eat plenty of fat and avoid cardio and aerobic exercise, focusing on muscle-building, such as weight lifting.
If you are an endomorph with a high amount of body fat, you should eat smaller, more frequent meals, eat slowly, drink lots of water, eat foods high in fiber and exercise at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. Aerobic activity combined with weight-bearing exercise for this stereotype is said to be optimal for weight loss.
As a mesomorph, you are athletic and have a strong build. Theory suggests that these individuals should simply follow the healthy eating and exercise routines similar to the guidelines recommended to all Americans, despite the ability to “gain or lose weight easily”.
Although there is some truth to this theory albeit blurred, the information isn’t necessarily useful. It is true that bone structure and body stature varies among individuals. It is also true that metabolism differs among individuals. However, everyone simply will not fit neatly into 3 categories of body-type. There are far too many variables involved in weight loss and maintenance for body-type dieting to be reliable.
Barriers to weight loss include inborn metabolism, stress, depression, frequency and intensity of exercise. Education level plays a role as well as exposure to variety of foods during youth, childhood weight status, familial attitudes towards food and weight, number of pregnancies in women, propensity for cravings, distorted portion sizes, and lack of support. These only scratch the surface!
Furthermore, the weight loss strategy presented for each body type can be healthy and beneficial across the board, no matter body shape or structure. I offer to you that we not focus on body type but, instead center our energy on the tried and true, research-based methods for obtaining a healthy weight and body, that yield only positive results.
If you do these 6 things, you will see results.
- Fill 1/2 your plate with vegetables
- Eat 2-3 servings of fresh fruit daily
- Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grain bread, cereal, pasta, brown rice and starchy vegetables
- Significantly reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages
- Choose lean meats instead of high-fat, fried meats
- Exercise most days of the week
Try it for 6 weeks and see what happens.