Why Your Body Isn’t Changing
This is a guest post by Meena Zia of Wellness A to Zia. She's awesome. Enjoy!
It’s always the same story. You try to eat right, you go to the gym and you see no results. Or maybe you do see results, but not as fast as your friend does.
Let’s look at the facts: nutrition is confusing at best. What works for one person and their body type most certainly will not work for someone else. There’s no flawless blue print for healthy eating, no matter what the fad diets say.
Here’s what you need to know. When it comes to body types, there are three different classifications or Somatotypes: Ectomorphs, Endomorphs, and Mesomorphs. This is by no means exact and although most people do fit in one of these categories there are a number of exceptions where you may be in between two. I won’t get into super specific language here, but if you are a nerd like me and want to learn more about your Somatotype you can find the link at the bottom of the page.
So why do we care about this? Because it’s the reason you and your significant other eat the same things but they don’t gain weight and you do. It’s the reason you eat the same as your workout buddy but your muscle builds fast and theirs’ doesn’t. If you’re following the dietary example of those around you I would keep reading.
I’ve written a brief bullet pointed description of each Somatotype. Chances are you will see your general body description in one of these but on the off-chance you don’t just comment at the bottom and I will solve all of your problems.
- Naturally slender
- More narrow hips and shoulders
- Difficult to gain muscle or fat
- Typical goal: gain weight/gain muscle
- Thicker build
- Wide hips
- Gains weight easily
- Typical goal: lose weight and build muscle
- Naturally muscular
- Gains muscle quickly
- Typical goal: Muscle gain and keeping body fat low
Precision Nutrition is a great online source to learn more about fueling for fitness. If you want to dig really deep into specifics you can find the links at the bottom of this post. If you’re like all my clients and just want me to tell you what to do instead of reading through articles, here we go:
I’d like to start by say that no body type is “lucky” or “unlucky”. Yes I know we all wish we had fast metabolisms and naturally toned bodies but the truth is NO ONE has a “naturally perfect body”. If you are someone who burns carbohydrates easily you will have a hard time gaining muscle than someone who doesn’t. If you gain muscle quickly you most likely have a harder time burning fat. I’ll get into detail with each type but know that there isn’t a single person who hasn’t worked on their body to get to their ultimate goals.
You’re looking at about 55% of your meal consisting of carbohydrates. You burn through it fast so you’re going to need more. Protein is going to be important as well as your main goal will be to gain muscle. For women this is about a palm size (3-4 oz) worth of protein. For men that number is double (6-8 oz).
Please note: Yes you burn carbs fast but that doesn’t mean you get to eat whatever you want. I’m sure you’ve heard of “empty carbs”. This means the food you ate was a bunch of carbs and no other nutrients… not good.
To prove this point I ate a Vanilla Long John from Dunkin Donuts this morning, (you know, for science). It was 410 calories and had 54g of carbs, 19g of fat, 7g protein and virtually no other nutrients. I was hungry again in 20 minutes. As an experiment I created a meal that would be approximately the same amount of carbs using items in my pantry and fridge. For the same amount of carbs I made a salad with 3 oz of chicken, 1 cup spinach, ½ c red peppers, 5 cherry tomatoes, 1 C of quinoa, and 2 TBSP Balsamic Vinaigrette. This meal was 430 calories and had 52g carbs, 17g fat, and 29g protein, not to mention tons of other vitamins and minerals. Due to the amount of protein and nutrients I wasn’t hungry again for 2 hours. As you can see, you can have A LOT more food if you’re conscious of what else comes with the carbs in your food.
You’ll notice that poor Endos do not get as many carbs. For you, the carbohydrate game will be all strategy: I’m going to ask you to eat your “starchy” carbs (rice, quinoa, oats, whole grains, potatoes, and cereal) ONLY within 1-2 hours post-workout and only 1/2c’s worth. This is not my sneaky trick to get you to workout more often, although it is a nice motivation. Your body cannot burn as many carbohydrates as you’re giving it which is why you store it. You simply cannot eat them whenever you want and that’s just a fact. If you want to ignore all science and continue to eat like an Ectomorph that’s fine but don’t come crying to me when you see no results – Love, Mom.
Anyway, you guys are going to need some protein. Women need at least a palm size of protein (3-4oz) per meal and men will need two (6-8oz). Notice the proportions in the graph above. Your protein and fat make up the majority of the meal and your carbs make up for the rest. You’ll have to significantly reshape how you think of a meal. If this is not a post-workout meal, ALL of those carbs are fruit and veggies. This is a good time to eat a salad with some sort of protein and added fat such as avocado, seeds, and nuts.
Hello all you natural born athletes. You guys have it a little easier since all of your macros are more or less equal. For carbohydrates you may have a mix of fruits, veggies, and “starchy” carbs.
Before any of you mourn the things you’ll no longer be able to eat or dread the things you’ll have to add to your diet, consider this. Time is the great equalizer.
I like to taunt my sister with this one. I am an Endo/Meso mix while she is a very classic Ectomorph. The problem is she is so used to eating whatever she wants. When you’ve gotten into a routine and you’ve done it for so long it’s very hard to change it. Carbs have finally caught up to her (and I’m loving it).
Long story not so short: If you don’t start eating correctly now you will regret it later. As we age our muscle tissue and bone density deteriorate. Even if you’ve never needed to work out or watch what you eat in the past, hopefully I’ve convinced you to action and start now! You’re welcome.
For further reading/the unabridged version of this post:
Somatotypes definition in depth:
Somatotypes eating habits in depth: