Portions for endomorph women.
(For more on this hand-size portion idea, including photo examples, check out our calorie control guide for men and women by clicking here.)
In general, we encourage individuals to experiment with different nutritional strategies until they find what works for them. And this is certainly one way to go about doing things.
Still, if seemingly endless trial and error with food intake doesn’t sound like an enjoyable way to spend your weekends, then identifying your body type and eating the appropriate distribution of nutrients might be a smart place to begin.
What you should know about eating for your body type
Regardless of your body type, body composition, or overall health status, your ability to handle carbohydrate-dense foods is greatly improved the more active you are.
This means that the best time to eat a majority of those starchy (or, less ideally, sugary) foods is when you’re most physically active. Depending on your body type, your carb tolerance and needs are different and your strategy should be different to match.
High carb tolerance (and needs)
If you’re the very carb tolerant type (or high carb needs type), eating a greater percentage of carb-dense foods outside the workout window will likely be just fine for you. This means eating more carbs all throughout the day. And you should, of course, ensure you get plenty of carbs around your workout for fuel and recovery. Just think more carbs around workouts and somewhat less carbs at other times. Remember that as carb intake increases, fat intake decreases.
Moderate carb tolerance (and needs)
If you have moderate carb tolerance (or needs), you should likely maintain a moderate intake of carb-dense foods outside the workout window. This means you’d make sure you eat some carb-dense foods around your workout. The rest of the meals would consist of less carb-dense foods and more lean proteins, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Low carb tolerance (and needs)
If you’re not very carb tolerant (or have low carb needs), your best bet is to minimize carb-dense foods outside the workout window. This means mostly veggies and fruits outside the workout window (along with proteins and fats).
For extra credit
As we approach different stages in our lives, hormones change and our body type can be influenced. This includes stages such as puberty and menopause (as well as the male equivalent, andropause).
Carb-dense foods include whole grains (rice, breads, quinoa, amaranth, millet, corn, barley, etc.), dried fruits, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, recovery drinks, sugars, etc.
Summary and recommendations
Carb tolerance/needs: High
Typical body type: Ectomorph
Carb timing ideas: Should include lots of carb-dense foods around exercise. Some starchy, whole grain, minimally processed carbs should also be eaten at other meals. Veggies and/or fruits (~3:1 serving ratio) should be eaten at each meal.
Carb tolerance/needs: Moderate
Typical body type: Mesomorph
Carb timing ideas: Should include carb-dense foods around exercise. Some starchy, whole grain, minimally processed carbs can also be eaten at other meals, though consumed in moderation. Veggies and/or fruits (~4:1 serving ratio) should be eaten at each meal.
Carb tolerance/needs: Low
Typical body type: Endomorph
Carb timing ideas: Almost all carb-dense foods should be included around exercise. Veggies and/or fruits (~5:1 serving ratio) should be eaten at each meal.
All of the aforementioned guidelines are great for muscle gain (assuming overall food intake is high enough), maintenance, and even moderate weight loss/shifting body composition.
For people brand new to the world of healthy eating, don’t worry too much about body type eating. This would be a better place for you to start. For our advanced nutrition readers, take advantage. Establish your body type, implement the strategies, and watch how your body changes.
If you’ve used a strategy in the past and it didn’t work, then don’t do it again. As always, match up behaviors and expectations while utilizing outcomes based decision making.