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Body types, body composition and diet programming

There are three general categories of body types: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph.

Our body type is largely determined by our genetics; however, years of proper nutrition and training can change one’s appearance. Often people can be a mix of characteristics, rather than just falling perfectly into one category.

Our body type can tell us a lot about how we might respond to different foods as well as our hormonal and sympathetic nervous system (SNS) characteristics.

  • Ectomorph: Usually long and lean individuals with smaller bone structures. Ectomorphs tend to be thyroid and SNS dominant, which is often linked to a faster metabolic rate and a higher carbohydrate tolerance. This group generally does well with slightly more carbohydrates in the diet, as well as a moderate protein and lower fat intake.
  • Mesomorph: Usually have a medium sized bone structure with an athletic build. Depending on exercise levels, these body types can often have a considerable amount of lean muscle mass and therefore good metabolism. This group generally does well on a mixed diet, consisting of balanced carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
  • Endomorph: Usually have a high body fat percentage and larger bone structure, often pear-shaped. They often have a greater tendency for energy storage and therefore generally do well on a lower carbohydrate diet, and higher fat and protein intake.

Our body fat percentage is also determined by our genetics, nutrition and exercise levels. For a female, a standard amout of healthy body fat may range from 20-32% and for a male, 14-25%.

For athletes, they usually have a much lower body fat percentage due to their rigorous training programs, specialised meal plans and higher metabolic rate.

If you have been struggling to lose body fat, then you may need a different approach to your diet and exercise.


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  3. Koleva M, Nacheva A, Boev M. Somatotype, nutrition, and obesity. Rev Environ Health 2000;15:389-398.