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Have you ever wondered why some of your friends seem to be able to eat whatever they want without gaining weight, while maybe you struggle with your weight no matter what you eat? Your body type might have something to do with that.
Different body types may have an easier time building muscle or holding on to excess fat in certain areas. One body type is called an “endomorph” (don’t worry, we’ll explain what that means in a minute!). Some people claim that following an endomorph diet may help you lose weight if you fall into that body type.
Let’s see what this diet is all about and whether it holds any scientific weight.
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What is an endomorph?
An endomorph is one of three body types, also called somatotypes.
Psychologist William Sheldon defined these types in the 1940s. Sheldon theorized that a person’s body type was associated with a personality type. Most researchers don’t accept that theory today, but the notion of three distinct physical body types endures in certain circles.
A mesomorph is considered the “ideal” body type—solid and muscular, with a medium frame and more muscle than fat. Mesomorphs easily put on muscle by working out, but they can also add body fat if they don’t watch what they eat (Katzinger, 2020). It’s important to note that “ideal” is by one standard—there is no such thing as an “ideal” natural body type.
An ectomorph has a naturally lean build with less natural muscle than a mesomorph, and a lower tendency to put on weight. Ectomorphs may have a hard time putting on fat or muscle, no matter how hard they work out (Katzinger, 2020).
An endomorph has a higher percentage of body fat and less muscle mass than a mesomorph. Endomorphs tend to have a rounder body shape and are more sensitive to calorie consumption. They can gain weight easily, tend to store fat, and may have a more difficult time losing weight (Katzinger, 2020).
What is the endomorph diet?
Some people think that If you have the endomorph body type, it may be more challenging for you to lose weight than your mesomorphic counterpart.
No matter what body type you are, there is truly only one way to lose weight: burn more calories than you consume. As long as you are doing this, you will lose weight no matter what types of foods you are eating.
There is no “perfect” diet that works 100% of the time for everyone. We all have different needs and schedules—the best diet will be the one you can maintain long-term.
One option is an endomorph diet that emphasizes lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates while limiting simple carbs (white bread, added sugars, and processed foods). This diet shares features with the keto, Mediterranean, and paleo diets.
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The recommendations of this diet are generally suitable for everybody, not just endomorphs. Eating more healthy foods and fewer processed foods is a good idea for anyone. If you’re following it for weight loss, though, it’s essential to have realistic expectations. In general, keeping the weight off is often more challenging than the initial weight loss. People who succeed at attaining a healthy weight typically incorporate lifestyle changes and healthy food choices into their daily routine, rather than following a crash diet for a short period.
Benefits of the endomorph diet
Most of the benefits of the endomorph diet come from the weight loss itself. Many people who have an endomorph body type also have obesity (Liu, 2021). Obesity is an epidemic in the U.S., impacting over 40% of the adult population. Having obesity or overweight increases your risk of medical problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more (Hales, 2020).
Any diet that helps you lose weight and maintain that weight loss is going to improve your health. One of the benefits of an endomorph diet that emphasizes lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs is that many people feel fuller with less food. Why? Because complex carbs like whole grains and veggies are slow-burning sources of energy. Simple carbs like sweets and starchy foods raise your blood sugar levels, burn quickly, and encourage a higher calorie intake, all of which can lead to weight gain.
Also, healthy fats—such as olive oils, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon—may help you improve cholesterol levels, decrease high blood pressure, and reduce your overall heart disease risk (Sacks, 2017).
Risks of the endomorph diet
Before starting a weight loss diet, consult with your healthcare provider.
Not much research exists about the endomorph diet in particular, but the main problem with any restrictive diet is sticking to the program.
If you are used to eating many carbohydrates, it can be difficult to limit them or change your eating habits. Portion control may help you lower your caloric intake without engaging in a very low-calorie restrictive diet. You should avoid diets that are too restrictive as they are harder to follow long-term—you run the risk of “cheating” and eventually giving up on the diet. This could lead to yo-yo dieting.
Foods to eat on the endomorph diet
The endomorph diet plan emphasizes foods that are high in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs (and low in simple carbs), including:
- Proteins: beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, salmon
- Dairy: yogurt, milk, cottage cheese
- Fruits: low-carb fruits like berries, melons, avocados
- Vegetables: high fiber vegetables like leafy greens, asparagus, celery
- Grains/starches: complex carbohydrates like whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, etc.), starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash, etc.), legumes
- Fats: healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds
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Foods to avoid on the endomorph diet
With the endomorph diet and most other diets, you should avoid simple carbohydrates and sugary foods, including:
- Sugary foods like candy, cakes, cookies, doughnuts
- Sweetened beverages like juices and soft drinks
- Simple carbohydrates like white bread or foods with added sugars (like some prepackaged foods)
Exercises for endomorphs
Every successful weight loss plan should incorporate physical activity such as cardio and strength training, regardless of your body type. The idea is that increasing the amount you exercise helps burn calories.
One type of exercise that an endomorph (or anybody else) may consider is HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training. Instead of just getting on a treadmill and jogging for as long as possible (also known as low-intensity steady-state cardio, or LISS), HIIT involves pushing your heart rate up with intense activity such as sprinting, interspersed with lower-intensity recovery periods of jogging or walking. In a typical HIIT session, you might sprint for a minute and slow to a jog or walk for another minute, then sprint again—for a maximum of 20 minutes overall.
Strength training or weight training is also essential for weight loss. Adding weight training to your exercise regimen may increase your lean muscle mass and improve your metabolic rate (how fast you burn calories), especially when combined with cardio or aerobic exercise. By integrating these types of physical activity with lowering your caloric intake, you have a higher chance of losing weight (Swift, 2018).
Like diet plans, no one fitness regimen works for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you aim for fitness goals and routines that are safe for you. There are many options, and you want to select an appropriate approach for your body that you can follow long-term.
Is the endomorph diet recommended?
Dieting options, like the endomorph diet, that encourage healthy eating and a reduced caloric intake, may help you lose weight, regardless of your body type. The best meal plan options will be sustainable plans over the long term—avoid diets that are too restrictive, claim significant weight loss in a very short amount of time, or tell you that you can avoid exercising.
As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting a diet or fitness program.
- Hales CM, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. (2020). Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among adults: United States, 2017–2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 360. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db360.htm
- Katzinger, J. and Murray, M.T. (2020). Textbook of Natural Medicine – Volume 2 (5th ed). Churchill Livingstone Inc. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-323-43044-9.00201-6. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780323430449002016
- Liu, X., Li, W., Wen, Y., Xu, G., Zhou, G., Qu, Q., et al. (2021). Obesity and heath-carter somatotyping of 3438 adults in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region of China by multivariate analysis. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, 14, 659–670. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S287954. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33623401/
- Sacks, F. M., Lichtenstein, A. H., Wu, J., Appel, L. J., Creager, M. A., Kris-Etherton, P. M., et al. & American Heart Association (2017). Dietary fats and cardiovascular disease: a presidential advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 136(3), e1–e23. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28620111/
- Swift, D. L., McGee, J. E., Earnest, C. P., Carlisle, E., Nygard, M., & Johannsen, N. M. (2018). The effects of exercise and physical activity on weight loss and maintenance. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 61(2), 206–213. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2018.07.014. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30003901/