Medical News Today: What to know about the endomorph diet

People with an endomorph body type tend to have a slow metabolism, making it easier for them to gain weight and harder for them to lose it. This also stunts muscle growth. However, following a specific diet and exercise plan can often help people with endomorphic bodies meet and maintain their health goals.

People with an endomorph body type usually have soft, round bodies with a wide waist and large bones, joints, and hips, regardless of their height.

This article covers what an endomorph diet is, including which foods to eat and which to avoid. We also discuss exercises that may help people with endomorphic bodies lose weight and build muscle.

What is the endomorph diet?

Walnut cut open on a table for the endomorph diet
Walnuts, a key part of the endomorph diet, are rich in protein

People with an endomorphic body may have characteristics and traits that make it difficult for them to diet, gain muscle mass, and exercise.

Specialists have devised endomorph diets and exercise plans that work with and against these unique traits to help people with endomorphic bodies lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight.

In the 1940s, psychologist William Sheldon described three main body types, or somatotypes: ectomorphic, mesomorphic, and endomorphic.

Of these, people with endomorphic bodies tend to have a slower metabolism, possibly due to their more substantial build. Having a slower metabolism can mean that the body is more likely to convert excess calories into fat.

Therefore, people with endomorphic bodies may need to more carefully control what they eat, when they eat, and how much they eat.

According to Sheldon, people endomorphic bodies may also have traits that make following diet and exercise plans more challenging. For example, they may have a general desire for food, comfort, and relaxation.

Also, these people usually have a larger build and carry excess weight, so they may be more prone to sedentarism.

People with an endomorph body type may also find it difficult to gain muscle mass because excess body fat triggers the release of the hormone estrogen. Increases in estrogen levels tend to decrease levels of hormones that promote muscle growth, such as testosterone.


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Foods to eat and avoid

Sources differ on what the best endomorph diet plan is.

Generally, people with endomorphic bodies may benefit from a nutrition plan that balances healthful fats, proteins, and carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and unrefined, high fiber foods.

Some examples of foods that are rich in protein or healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include:

  • low fat dairy products, such as low fat milk, yogurt, and cheeses
  • poultry, such as chicken and turkey
  • most types of fish, especially fatty fish
  • most nontropical vegetable cooking oils, especially olive, canola, and avocado oil
  • eggs and egg whites
  • most nontropical nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts

Some examples of carbohydrates that are fit for an endomorph diet include most:

  • dried beans and legumes, such as kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • fruits, except melons and pineapple
  • non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and celery
  • whole-grain or whole-wheat products, such as all-bran cereal and 100% stone-ground whole-wheat bread
  • some starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams, corn, and carrots
  • some unrefined starchy vegetables, such as quinoa and amaranth

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), people with an endomorph body type tend to be more sensitive to carbohydrates and insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows blood sugars to enter cells.

So, people following an endomorph diet may wish to limit or avoid carbohydrate dense foods, especially refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar.

Foods rich in carbohydrates release sugars rapidly into the bloodstream, causing blood sugar spikes and dips. The body is also more likely to turn these sugars into fat than burn them as energy.

Endomorphic bodies are also more likely to convert excess calories into fat. For this same reason, people following an endomorph diet may also want to avoid foods that are calorie dense but nutrient poor.

Some examples of foods to limit or avoid on the endomorph diet include:

  • white bread, white rice, traditional pasta, and bagels
  • candies, chocolates, and other sweets
  • baked goods and cakes
  • soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • refined cereals, such as bran flakes, instant oatmeal, and puffed rice
  • heavily processed or fried foods
  • rich dairy products, such as cream, whipped cream, and ice cream
  • red meats
  • foods rich in sodium
  • alcohol
  • cooking oils with a lot of saturated fat, such as palm or coconut oil

Endomorph exercises

Exercise is an important part of any weight loss plan, especially for people with an endomorph body type. Exercising helps increase metabolism and reduce fat.

Cardiovascular exercises such as running can burn calories and help create a calorie deficit. This means that someone is using more calories than they are consuming and potentially burning excess fat.

The ACE recommend that people with an endomorph body type follow “well rounded” exercise routines that focus on both cardiovascular and strength training activities.

Some examples of good cardiovascular exercises include:

  • High intensity interval training (HIIT): In HIIT, a person will alternate between periods of very high intensity exercise and low intensity exercise or rest. Those with endomorphic bodies can try doing HIIT sessions two or three times per week for a maximum of 30 minutes per session.
  • Steady state training (SST): These are longer sessions of consistent moderate to low intensity exercise. Good SST exercises include walking, jogging, and swimming. People with an endomorph body type can try doing 30–60-minute SST sessions two to three times per week.


Building muscle

Man doing a deadlift in the gym
Deadlift is a good example of a compound exercise to build muscle.

Strength and weight training exercises are an important part of almost any weight loss plan, especially for people with an endomorph body type.

These people often have a low percentage of muscle mass, although they have large, wide bones typically capable of bearing large, strong muscles. They also tend to have excess body fat, which triggers the body to release estrogen, reducing testosterone levels and hindering muscle growth.

However, healthy muscle helps increase metabolism, because unlike fat cells, muscle tissues burn calories, even when resting. They also encourage the body to use fat for fuel.

Several weight training routines and exercises are beneficial for people with endomorphic bodies. For example, experts tend to recommend compound exercises.

Compound exercises use multiple body tissues and units at the same time and encourage body control. People can do most of these exercises from a standing position using free weights, body weight, or a barbell.

Some examples of compound exercises include:

Deadlift or hip hinge

To do:

  1. Stand with the legs hip-width apart and close to the barbell.
  2. Drive the hips back while bracing the core, keeping tension in the back and the knees soft, and pushing the heels into the floor.
  3. As the bar reaches the knees, try shooting the hips into the bar.
  4. Finish standing tall while clenching the glutes.

Pushups

To do:

  1. Place the hands on the floor, with the fingers spread widely, directly below the shoulders.
  2. Pack the shoulders while squeezing the glutes and pressing the heels away.
  3. Keeping the head in line with the body, bend the elbows, and lower the chest toward the floor with control.
  4. Keep the back straight then engage the legs, glutes, and shoulders to raise the chest back up.

Squats

To do:

  1. Standing with the legs shoulder-width apart, drive the feet into the floor and activate the hips.
  2. Slowly, and with control, lower the tailbone toward the floor with a tall and engaged torso.
  3. Once lowered, slowly push the body away from the floor until standing tall with the torso fully extended.

Circuit training

Another group of strength exercises that experts recommend for people with an endomorph body type is circuit training. Circuit training involves doing short, intense bouts of exercise with small periods of rest in-between.

One example of circuit training may involve:

  1. squat with overhead press (50 seconds)
  2. rest (10 seconds)
  3. stationary lunge with lateral raise, right leg front (50 seconds)
  4. rest (10 seconds)
  5. stationary lunge with lateral raise, left leg front holding dumbbells (50 seconds)
  6. rest (10 seconds)
  7. plié squat or upright row, dumbbells or kettlebell (50 seconds)
  8. rest (10 seconds)
  9. pushups with single leg knee drives (50 seconds)
  10. rest (10 seconds)
  11. plank with triceps extension, dumbbells (50 seconds)
  12. rest (10 seconds)
  13. alternate step-ups with hammer curls, dumbbells (50 seconds)
  14. repeat these steps three times


Summary

People with an endomorph body type may gain weight easier and take longer to lose it because they tend to have a slow metabolism, low muscle mass, and high amounts of body fat.

Endomorph diet plans usually focus on avoiding refined carbohydrates and eating a mix of healthful fats, proteins, and carbohydrates from vegetables, nuts, fruits, and whole-grain foods.

Most endomorph diet plans also involve doing regular cardiovascular and strength exercises to burn calories, boost metabolism, and build lean muscle.

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