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Understand Your Body Type and Eat to Build Muscle

October 10, 2022 5 min read

Understand Your Body Type and Eat to Build Muscle

When it comes to gaining muscle and size, first understanding your body type is an important consideration to achieving the fitness, muscle, and symmetry goals you are aspiring or aiming to achieve.


The three main body types also referred to as ‘somatotypes’ were developed in the 1940’s by psychologist William Herbert Sheldon explaining the main physical differences that exist among humans musculoskeletal structure. Whilst many of the concepts of body types have been debunked, new research has confirmed that these different body types do have implications for athletic performance. The literature is beginning to show some findings that positively link mesomorph men to improved performance on compound lifts like back squats and bench press, whilst in terms of aerobic performance mesomorphs and ectomorphs performed better in aerobic capacity than endomorphs. Contrary to what you might find, hear, or read, somatotypes can be influenced by the type of training they do and the way they eat which this article will explore in more detail. However, to set the scene, let’s first that a look at what characteristics comprise these different body types.  



Firstly, the ectomorph naturally lean struggles to gain muscle tissue. These individuals structurally have narrow shoulders and hips and a quick metabolism. A common characteristic associated with these individuals is that they can eat lots of food and gain relatively no size whatsoever. Being an ectomorph body type doesn’t necessarily mean you can gain weight or size and strength; it just requires more plenty to get lots of energy dense calories into your meals throughout the day to ensure you are able to achieve your training and physique goals.


Some tips for ectomorphs, often referred to as ‘hard-gainers’ is to prioritise energy dense foods such as:

  • Nuts between snacks
  • Mass gainer
    • Fat contains 9 calories per gram which is more than double that of carbohydrates and proteins which only contain 4 calories per gram, so if you can consume a small handful of nuts between meals with protein shakes this will be a strategy to help bolster your energy intake.
  • Adding avocado to meals
  • Choosing fish high in omega fatty acids like salmon
  • Opting for chicken thighs or regular beef mince when preparing meals will not only increase your energy consumption but it will also be far more cost effective than choosing lean chicken breast or extra lean beef/pork mince.

Developing a strength program focusing on the development of absolute strength and hypertrophy is also vital to promote the development of fast twitch muscle fibres, excessive training volume will only increase the amount of energy needed to gain size. Suggestions for ectomorphs vary, however sample recommendations suggest 45% of daily energy consumption coming from carbohydrates, 35% from protein and 20% from fat. These suggestions will see you consuming a moderate amount of protein, and fat content and higher carbohydrate intake.



Secondly, the mesomorph naturally has narrow hips, clavicles, and small joints such as the wrist and ankles. Generally, these individuals have a thin build and have stringy muscle bellies and longer limbs. Despite their narrow waist and thick joints, mesomorphs have relatively round muscle bellies. Characteristic of these individuals is that they can quite easily bounce back from being out of shape more so than ectomorphs or endomorphs, gaining muscle and burning fat mass with relative ease. Suggestions for mesomorphs vary, however sample recommendations suggest varying intake of macronutrients evenly between protein, fat and carbohydrates.


Some tips for mesomorphs, often

  • Generally mesomorphs do better on high amounts of protein and less carbohydrates.
  • As a rule of thumb try to divide your plate into thirds and distribute energy consumption evenly across different macronutrients;
    • Protein examples include white meats, eggs, fish, beans, lentils, Greek yogurt or VPA® whey protein isolate post workout.
    • Whole fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and small servings of mono and polyunsaturated fats
  • Remember that the more lean muscle mass, means the more energy your body uses at rest so you should look to time your eating in a way to optimise your ability to build lean muscle and recover from your training.
  • Eating small high protein snacks from sources such as those listed above can help recover before and after activity.



Lastly, endomorphstend to gain weight much easier than other groups and have a larger build than meso and ecto-morphs. They tend to have a thick ribcage, wide hips, and shorter limbs, they have more muscle than other body types but struggle to gain it without additional bodyfat added to their frame.

The advantages for this body types are that they tend to gain muscle size and strength far more easily in the gym, the hard part is when the time comes to lean out and get in shape. Generally, endomorphs are more prone to insulin resistance and therefore it is important these individuals watch their carbohydrate intake. Insulin resistance is something that typically happens when cells can’t effectively take glucose from the blood into the muscle where it is to be stored as glycogen, the pancreas compensates by ramping up insulin production a hallmark element of type 2 diabetes.

For endomorphs the recommendations suggest adhering to a 20% carbohydrate, 40% fat and 40% protein dietary split. Try to prioritise carbohydrate intake around workouts to optimise performance within the gym and utilisation of glucose within the blood.


Some dietary tips for Endomorphs;

  • Endomorphs generally gain weight easily, considering they often have a higher proportion of both fat mass and lean mass.
  • If you are an endomorph you should aim to focus on avoiding refined carbohydrate sources, stick to carbohydrates high in fibre with a low glycaemic index such a wholegrain bread, oatmeal, basmati rice and starchy vegetables.
  • If unable to get enough fibre from whole foods, VPA®  multi greens supplement is a great alternative to bolster your daily intake.
  • Protein and fats should make up the largest portion of an endomorphs energy consumption to minimise unwanted gain of additional fat mass whilst assisting the development of lean muscle tissue and recovery.
  • Training is important for endomorphs to alter their body composition. Exercise and particularly resistance training helps to increase metabolism and to create a calorie deficit.


As summer approaches, no doubt plenty of readers will be looking to get in tip top shape to enjoy the warmer months. If this information resonates with you, it might be a good time to adjust your eating and training habits to cater to differing somatotypes.

It is important to note however that these are very broad recommendations. If you are looking for more specific, tailored advice it is always best to speak with a registered nutritionist or accredited practicing dietitian to seek advice for your individual circumstances.

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