Body Type Diets - Are They Worth It?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Body type diets are designed to help people with specific body types lose weight and build muscle in the right areas. While not all body type diets are worthwhile, the idea deserves a little attention. Every person is unique. You are not the same as your mother, sister or other family member. Every woman is unique. Thus, what works for one person will not necessarily work for everyone. It is important when dieting that you take your own lifestyle and body type into consideration. If you are short and round for example, you can't expect a diet will magically transform you into lean and tall. You can however, find a diet well suited for your body type that will help you get fit and healthy.

Finding The Right Diet For Your Body Type
Everyone has different shapes, personalities and preferences. The best diet for you is one that considers not only your body type but also your personality, goals and personal preferences. If you hate eating meat for example, you probably won't do well on an Atkins like diet, no matter what your body type.

There are many things that decide your body type. Most importantly, your genetics play a large role in your shape. Actual 'body type' diets suggest the dominant gland in our body decides our body type. For some that may be the thyroid, for others that may be the heart or blood. Body type is also determined by one's sex. Women for example, have a different body type than men. Women tend to gain weight all over, whereas men gain more weight in the abdomen and waist (I know, it isn't fair!).

There are some basic body type categories we fall into. These include:
  • Hourglass - This is a womanly shape with a small waste and full hips and bust.

  • Ruler - A ruler is tall and lean.

  • Cone - A cone carries most of her weight in the upper body.

  • Spoon - A spoon or 'pear' carries most of her weight in the lower body.
You can use these body types to find out the type of exercises that will best complement your diet program. For example, if you are a spoon, you probably want to stay away from exercises that build up the thighs such as lunges. You want to you're your lower body, but the goal is to trim and tone not bulk up.

Your body may also fall into the following categories:
  • Endomorph - Usually a big boned person with a round face, larger thighs and more body fat in the midsection.

  • Ectomorphs - Lean and thin with low body fast and narrow features.

  • Mesomorphs - Naturally lean and thin with a high metabolism. May have broad shoulders and naturally high levels of lean muscle mass.

Depending on your body type you may find you do better on some diets and not others. If you tend to be an endomorph for example, you may be more likely to do well on a low-carbohydrate and high protein diet than someone who is already naturally lean (like an ectomorph). Ectomorphs may prefer a more low fat high carb diet.

The Best Diet For Most Body Types
Most of us are a combination of body types. We may display features that fall into multiple categories. Therefore your best bet is to eat a diet that is diverse and full of whole, nutritious foods. You may have to experiment a bit with regard to the ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats that work best for you. Many people do well on a zone type diet that offers 40 percent of calories from protein, 30 percent from carbs and 30 percent from fats. Alternatively you may find you lose more weight and have more energy when you up your carbohydrate intake to 60% of your diet. Women need more carbohydrates than men to support metabolic functions and proper hormone production.

If you are an athlete or engage in vigorous cardiovascular activity, you will also need more carbohydrate than someone who leads a relatively sedentary lifestyle. All people, regardless of their body type will do best to avoid a diet laden with saturated fats, processed foods and sugar. Part of the weight problems many people experience are due more to excessive consumption of these foods than the diet they are on.

Remember, when it comes to dieting and your health, moderation is the key to success. If you have specific nutritional requirements or health concerns, such as diabetes, you should always consult with your doctor before starting any type of diet or exercise program. You doctor can work with you to develop a diet plan that matches your individual needs and weight loss goals.