Metabolic type? Solve the confusion

Last updated: 13 May 2021

We are all beautifully unique – and so are our bodies.
Presumably, every body fits a particular metabolic type: mesomorph, endomorph, ectomorph, or a combination of two. Knowing which of these frames we fit the most can help us adjust our diet and activities to improve our health and fitness.

However, we believe there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle and long-term health. Every successful eating or lifestyle plan needs to be individualised, and as such, assuming your body type and basing your lifestyle according to it can only be informational. If you want to create a nutritional and lifestyle plan that will really suit your needs, you should consider other factors – such as your habits and genes!

In this article

What is metabolism?
What affects your metabolism?
What are the metabolic types?
How to train and what to eat according to your metabolic body type
What if I don't fit in any of the metabolic types?
Can your genes determine your metabolic type?

Firstly, let's see what metabolism even means and what affects it.

What is metabolism?

Metabolism is a vital process for all living things. It's defined as the bodily processes needed to maintain life. When we use the word metabolism today, it's usually about weight issues. You probably already heard someone say they have a slow metabolism and can't lose weight fast because of it. There is some truth to this! Yet, other factors, such as your genes, daily routine, sleep schedule, and eating and exercise habits, play a more significant role in your weight gain.

Metabolism refers to converting food (calories) into energy. It sustains life and supports physical activity, whether exercise or non-exercise.

These processes include:

• breathing,
• digesting food,
• delivery of nutrients to your cells through the blood,
• use of energy by your muscles, nerves, and cells,
• elimination of waste products from your body.

The rate at which you burn calories or energy is called your metabolic rate. This number includes your basal metabolic rate (BMR)—the number of calories needed to support essential functions, like breathing and circulating blood—and calories burned during physical activity.


What affects your metabolism?

Medications can speed it or slow it down.
Eating habits. Breakfast every day can jump-start your metabolism.
Weight loss! Especially when it's rapid, it slows down your metabolism as it takes less energy for your body to function at a lower weight. As you lose weight, note to take in fewer calories or get more physically active.
Age. In general, your metabolism slows as you get older. You can try to prevent this and increase your activity levels accordingly!
Height and weight. The bigger your body is, the more calories it needs to sustain itself. Makes sense, right?
Sex. You probably noticed that generally, men lose weight more efficiently – that's due to them often having more lean muscle mass, which means fast metabolism.
Lean muscle mass. As mentioned, the more lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism.
Hormones. Your thyroid can slow down or speed up your calorie burning. For example, increased oestrogen during menopause slows metabolism.
Cardiovascular exercise. Regular cardio exercise consumes calories at the moment and boosts your metabolism for hours afterwards.

And of course … genetics!

Before we dive into just how genetic background influences your metabolism, let's see what metabolic types are.

What are the metabolic types?

Body type, or somatotype, refers to the idea that there are three body compositions that people are predetermined to have. This seems straightforward.

Dr W.H. Sheldon designed the concept in the early 1940s. He named the three types: endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph.

Firstly, they believed that a person's somatotype cannot be changed and that it even influences some psychological characteristics!

Of course, we now know that this has little empirical utility.

According to Sheldon, endomorphs have rounded and soft bodies, mesomorphs are always square and muscular, and ectomorphs are always thin and fine-boned.

Take note of the names! It's said that Sheldon chose them because he believed the predominant traits of each somatotype were set in stone, derived from pre-birth development of either the endodermal, mesodermal, or ectodermal embryonic layers.

Want to see in what frame Sheldon would put you? Check it out for yourself!

Metabolic type


1. Ectomorph

You know that skinny friend who can eat whatever he wants but never gains weight? That's an ectomorph for you!

People who have the ectomorph body type are generally tall and lean, with little body fat and muscle tone. They have smaller, more delicate features, narrow shoulders and find it difficult to gain weight.

For ectomorph females, this usually means flatter chests, and for both genders, flatter bottoms.

These body types generally have a rectangular appearance and lack curves or definition. According to Sheldon, ectomorphs have very fast metabolisms, so they have difficulty gaining and maintaining body weight.

Benefits? They never have to worry about gaining too much weight. Sounds good to us!

2. Endomorph

Endomorphs are deemed the opposite of ectomorphs. They are usually shorter, without defined muscles and have a rounder, softer appearance. They gain fat fast, as their metabolisms are slower than the other two body types, and they have difficulty burning excess body fat.

They have powerful lower body strength and gain muscle quickly.

Women who fit this type usually have the classic hourglass shape when in good physical condition.


3. Mesomorph

Mesomorphs take the best of both worlds!

Same as endomorphs, they have an hourglass-shaped body. Also referred to as the athletic body, women in this group usually have similar size shoulders and hips and generally have well-defined muscles.

These body types are strong and gain muscle quickly. Although they do not gain fat easily, they do gain it more easily than an ectomorph. Mesomorph metabolisms are generally in the moderate range. If they do not exercise, excess weight can pile on. However, according to Sheldon, this is the most desirable body type for men.

Besides Sheldon, other scientists dug deep into metabolic research. For example, William Wolcott presented The Metabolic Typing Diet, a weight-loss plan based on the concept that metabolism is different for everyone.

Traditional metabolic typing uses three categories: protein type, carbo type, and mixed type. The three types should eat what is in their name the most proteins, carbs or a mix of both.

Based on Wolcott, your metabolic type depends on the relationship between the body's oxidative system (which determines how quickly your body converts food into energy) and the autonomic nervous system (which regulates involuntary actions). In most people, one of these systems is supposedly more dominant. Figuring out which one it is, and eating according to your type should enable you to lose weight.

How to train and what to eat according to your metabolic body type?

If reading about Sheldon’s somatotypes got you interested, we offer some more insights.
Understanding which body type is the most similar to yours can provide a framework for reaching your fitness and weight goals.

Since ectomorphs lack muscle mass, they need to increase their protein intake and combine it with a strength training plan: the rule for ectomorphs is weightlifting! The ideal diet for them is high in carbs and protein and lower in fat ectomorphs should be eating foods like turkey, seafood and brown rice.

Endomorphs have difficulties converting carbohydrates. That's why they should try to eat more protein and fewer carbs. If you are an endomorph, try a paleo or low carb eating plan for a few weeks and see if that helps you shed those hard-to-lose pounds. Fruit, veggies, meats, salmon, nuts and seeds, and oils are foods that should work for an endomorph.

If you're a mesomorph, you are lucky to gain muscle quickly, so strength training will be a welcome addition to your workout routine. Mesomorphs should aim to divide calories reasonably evenly between the macronutrients, eat complex carbs, spinach and other green vegetables, whole-grain foods, and low-sugar fruits to provide them with enough energy to make it through demanding workouts. High-fibre foods such as beans increase feelings of fullness, and these items can help avoid sugary binges mesomorphs may have.

We now know that metabolisms and appetites adjust to new food and exercise routines, so someone who was predominately ectomorphic could eventually see themself displaying more mesomorphic traits over time.

What if I don't fit in any of the metabolic types?


Don't worry — many people don't!

As mentioned, this framework is a bit outdated. There's not enough research about using your somatotype to define your diet or type of exercise. However, if you're looking for a new way to approach a diet and exercise program, following your somatotype may be a way to do it. Even though experts disagree if the scientific data even supports this framework, the mentioned diet plans are still safe. They generally focus on classic recommendations – avoiding sweets, eating your veggies, plenty of fruit, nutrient-rich whole foods, and they don't eliminate any food group, so you can feel free to try them out!

Does this sound too general to you?

We feel the same!

We believe every body is beautifully unique. If you want to know your body more, you should get to know your genes. The real secrets hide in there!

Can your genes determine your metabolic type? 

Yes!

Your genetic background influences a whole lot of your body's functioning.
Regarding metabolism, it can affect:

• how your body reacts to alcohol,
• how quickly you metabolise caffeine and how you respond to it,
• your likelihood of being lactose and gluten intolerant,
• and your tendency for alcohol and nicotine addictions.

Photo2_Metabolic type

There's more!

Your genetic makeup influences your tendency for obesity, diet type, response to carbohydrates and fats and so on! Different people react differently to the same foods, so it's important to know what really works for you.

In short – if you are trying to lose weight or just trying to live better and healthier, knowing what is in your genes is the best thing you can do. You can discover how to eat smarter, sleep better, and get vital with our Premium Pack. The Premium Pack also allows you to find out your skin health and how quickly it ages, how to exercise according to your genetic predispositions to get the best results and more! Discover everything your DNA can tell you here.

We believe that we are all born beautiful in our shape and size. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the journey of health and fitness and be proud of what your body can do for you. With that in mind, success is guaranteed!

Sources

Sports and recreation Nutrition About genetics

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