What is the Endomorph Diet and Does It Work?

Body typing is often more hype than substance, especially if we are talking about fashion. However, when it comes to health, body types can give you clues about your risks and strengths, including hormonal and sympathetic nervous system characteristics. 

What’s the key? You have to know where and how you store your fat. As soon as you have established your body type, you can then adjust your nutrient intake to achieve your health-related goals. This is very important as some types of fat are harder on your health as compared to others and may respond differently to dieting methods. 

There are three general categories of body types, known as somatotypes. These include ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs. This classification was first introduced in the 1940s by a psychologist named William Sheldon. 

Do you have an endomorph body type? If yes, this article is for you! Read on to know the diet you should follow and more! 

What Are Endomorphs? 

Powerlifters, who may appear round and soft, have bigger bone structures with higher amounts of total fat and body mass (1). They are known to be endomorphs. They are naturally less active and have slower metabolism (2). 

Endomorphs tend to gain weight more easily compared with ectomorphs and mesomorphs. Even when eating a similar diet as another body type, an endomorph will tend to hold on to more excess fat. In addition, this excess fat often deposits around the waist and is related to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when your cells have trouble responding to the insulin that your pancreas pumps out, which ultimately affects your blood glucose levels (3).

Insulin resistance affects the way your body processes carbohydrates (4). Accordingly, proponents of the endomorph diet advice limiting these, especially highly processed, refined carbs, which contain little or no nutrition. With more body fat, the thinking goes, you’ll also burn fewer calories compared with a naturally muscular body, like a mesomorph.

These groups of people are better on a higher protein and fat intake. Carbohydrates should be properly controlled and timed, preferably after exercise. 

What Is An Endomorph Diet?

People with an endomorph body may have characteristics and traits that make it difficult for them to diet, gain muscle mass, and exercise. They may have a general desire for food, comfort, and relaxation. These people usually have a larger build and carry excess weight, so they may be more prone to a sedentary lifestyle. 

People with an endomorph body type may also find it difficult to gain muscle mass because excess body fat triggers the release of the hormone estrogen. Increases in estrogen levels tend to decrease levels of hormones that promote muscle growth, such as testosterone.

Specialists have devised endomorph diets and exercise plans that work with and against these unique traits to help people with endomorph bodies lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight.

Since endomorphs tend to carry more fat and are more likely to have insulin resistance, eating a balanced diet that’s lower in carbohydrates in order to support fat loss is highly recommended. Evidence suggests that compared with a higher-carb diet, reducing the amount of carbs in meals can improve insulin function within a day and may be a powerful way to lower one’s risk of prediabetes (5). 

What’s more, because fat burns fewer calories than muscle, an endomorph likely has a metabolism that runs slower compared with a naturally muscular mesomorph, meaning that you’ll want to eat fewer calories in the beginning of the diet.

Since endomorphs don’t burn calories as quickly as the other body types and they are less tolerable to carbohydrates, the ideal diet for them should include a higher fat and protein intake with fewer carbohydrates like the paleo diet. This focuses on fruit, veggies, meats, fish, nuts and seeds, and oils. 

Some examples of foods that are rich in protein or healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include:

  • Low fat dairy products, such as low fat milk, yogurt, and cheeses
  • Poultry, such as chicken and turkey
  • Most types of fish, especially fatty fish
  • Most nontropical vegetable cooking oils, especially olive, canola, and avocado oil
  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Most nontropical nuts, including almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts

Some examples of carbohydrates that are fit for an endomorph diet include most:

  • Dried beans and legumes, such as kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • Fruits, except melons and pineapple
  • Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and celery
  • Whole-grain or whole-wheat products, such as all-bran cereal and 100% stone-ground whole-wheat bread
  • Some starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams, corn, and carrots
  • Some unrefined starchy vegetables, such as quinoa and amaranth

There’s no need to totally avoid carbohydrates as they are an excellent source of energy. You just have to pick the right kind of carbs. 

Take complex carbohydrates, starchy vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and tubers. Though paleo dieters typically avoid legumes, beans and lentils, which are packed with weight-friendly and digestion-slowing fiber are allowed for endomorphs. You can also incorporate grains into this diet.

Some examples of foods to limit or avoid on the endomorph diet include:

  • White bread, white rice, traditional pasta, and bagels
  • Candies, chocolates, and other sweets
  • Baked goods and cakes
  • Soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • Refined cereals, such as bran flakes, instant oatmeal, and puffed rice
  • Heavily processed or fried foods
  • Rich dairy products, such as cream, whipped cream, and ice cream
  • Red meats
  • Foods rich in sodium
  • Alcohol
  • Cooking oils with a lot of saturated fat, such as palm or coconut oil

Unlike many other diets out there, the endomorph diet does not limit how many calories you consume per day. It does recommend a near-equal split of macronutrients, with 35% protein, 35% fat, and 30% carbohydrates (2).

Why Follow An Endomorph Diet? 

  • It helps in weight loss
  • The endomorph diet helps the fight against diabetes
  • If excess fat is accumulated on your hips, thighs and buttocks, you will likely have fewer risk factors for metabolic disease compared with someone who has a different body type
  • It may help one adopt a healthy eating pattern. This will improve insulin sensitivity and you will lose fat, particularly visceral fat

Endomorph Exercises

Of course, apart from eating the right types of food, exercise is an important part of any weight loss plan, especially for people with an endomorph body type. Exercising helps increase metabolism and reduce fat.

Cardiovascular exercises such as running can burn calories and help create a calorie deficit. This means that someone is using more calories than they are consuming and potentially burning excess fat.

Experts recommend that people with an endomorph body type follow “well rounded” exercise routines that focus on both cardiovascular and strength training activities.

Some examples of good cardiovascular exercises include:

High intensity interval training (HIIT)

In HIIT, a person will alternate between periods of very high intensity exercise and low intensity exercise or rest. Those with endomorph bodies can try doing HIIT sessions two or three times per week for a maximum of 30 minutes per session.

Steady state training (SST)

These are longer sessions of consistent moderate to low intensity exercise. Good SST exercises include walking, jogging, and swimming. People with an endomorph body type can try doing 30 to 60-minute SST sessions two to three times per week.

Endomorph Diet Strategies to Speed Up Weight Loss

1. Cycle Macronutrients 

Eliminating carbs entirely, otherwise known as a horrible diet, is brutal not only on the psyche, but also the body, hormonally, over time. Any diet that is too restrictive for too long is bound to fail, and carbs have a place in an athlete’s daily regimen.

If you’re seeking fat loss, you need to keep insulin at bay during inactive times of the day, meaning you carb cycle days or even within days. Insulin is effective at driving carbs into muscle and liver tissue, which is good, but it’s also equally good at directing carbs into fat tissue and this is unhealthy.

To get the best of both worlds, skip the carbs at times farthest away from your workout or sports activities. If you sit in class or at work all day, replace carbs with healthy fats and keep your protein intake constant.

This means something like a three-egg omelet with spinach instead of a heavy carb-laden breakfast of pancakes and waffles.

That said, you don’t want to catabolize muscle entirely. When your workout comes around, introduce carbs before and after to maximize recovery.

2. Eat Slower

So you suspect you’re carb sensitive; some call it carb intolerant. Well, you may be on to something. Science is starting to reveal carb tolerance variations from one person to the next, and it all starts in your mouth. Salivary amylase is an enzyme in your saliva that starts the digestion of starches in carbohydrates. The gene that makes amylase, AMY1, varies in number from person to person. The more of it you have, the faster and more effectively you digest carbs.

What’s the solution for those with fewer copies of this gene? Be present at meal time, eat as slowly as possible and really take your time at each meal. Simple in theory, sure, but eating slowly gives your amylase more time to break down the carbs you’re eating. This evens the playing field against people with more amylase who eat faster.

3. Prioritize Protein

It takes a lot more effort for the body to digest protein than fats or carbs. Protein requires the greatest expenditure of energy, with estimates ranging as high as 30%. This means you will burn up to 30% of the calories in the protein you consume merely to digest it plus protein helps you preserve lean body mass. If you’re a calorie deficit, you want to maintain as much lean body mass as possible not only to look good, but also to perform at your best.

4. Fill Up on Veggies 

When you’re trying to lose weight or curb your lion-sized appetite, it’s important to choose foods that can fill you up without blowing up your caloric needs. For people with appetites for days, these foods are an integral piece of the dietary pie. We’re talking foods with relatively high fiber content that are also low in calories. A win-win!

That’s why staples in nearly every meal, especially during a fat loss phase, are non-starchy, high fibrous vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli.

5. Control Your Food Portions

Remember, small portions but often better than eating large portions of two or three times a day. Balance your food intake with the activities you do in a day. If you get hungry, try a glass of water first and give it time to reach your stomach.

Sample 1-Week Menu for An Endomorph Diet

Menu 1 

Breakfast: Two (2) scrambled eggs plus 1 egg white and spinach

AM Snack: Sunflower seeds and a piece of fruit

Lunch: Olive oil–massaged kale salad topped with cucumbers, bell peppers, and salmon

PM Snack: Deli meat wrapped around asparagus spears

Dinner: Grilled chicken breast over zucchini noodles and tomato sauce

Menu 2

Breakfast: Cottage cheese with slivered almonds and cinnamon

AM Snack: Sliced veggies and hummus

Lunch: Stir-fry made with chicken and peppers over brown rice

PM Snack: Sliced apple with peanut butter

Dinner: Turkey tacos wrapped in lettuce and topped with a slice of avocado

Menu 3

Breakfast: Egg frittata made with tomatoes, onions, and spinach

AM Snack: Protein shake

Lunch: Grilled chicken salad with garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce

PM Snack: Hummus and sliced veggies like bell pepper and celery

Dinner: White fish drizzled in olive oil, roasted broccoli and cauliflower

Menu 4

Breakfast: Smoothie made with Greek yogurt, berries, and almond milk

AM Snack: Sliced veggies and hummus

Lunch: Open-faced turkey, veggie, and avocado sandwich on whole-wheat toast

PM Snack: Pistachios and cubed cantaloupe

Dinner: Sliced steak stir-fry over cauliflower rice

Menu 5 

Breakfast: Two (2) hard-boiled eggs with blueberries

AM Snack: Greek yogurt with sliced almonds

Lunch: Mediterranean lentil salad with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and chopped raw veggies

PM Snack: Protein shake

Dinner: Veggie and bean soup with a grilled chicken breast

Menu 6 

Breakfast: Omelet made with peppers and spinach, topped with avocado slices

AM Snack: Protein bar

Lunch: Quinoa mixed with chopped veggies and cubed chicken breast, tossed with vinaigrette

PM Snack: Carrots dipped in peanut butter

Dinner: Salmon, steamed broccoli, sautéed mushrooms

Menu 7 

Breakfast: Greek yogurt layered with apples, cinnamon, and walnuts

AM Snack: Hard-boiled egg and sliced avocado

Lunch: Sweet potato stuffed with shredded chicken, drizzled with low-sugar barbecue sauce

PM Snack: Hummus and veggies

Dinner: Shrimp and veggie kabobs with cauliflower rice

Should You Try the Endomorph Diet? 

While you might find short-term success, experts say they are uncertain about the long-term sustainability of any diet that restricts certain foods. The other important concern with the endomorph diet is the lack of individual assessment. It doesn’t take into account a person’s goals, genetics, exercise routine, lifestyle, or any pre-existing conditions.

There’s also something inherently self-critical about labeling your body based on incomplete research from several decades ago. While there have been patients losing weight on the endomorph diet, these are attributed to their ability to make healthy changes to exercise and diet, which may or may not have anything to with the endomorph diet or their body type.

Additionally, while the diet in itself isn’t harmful because fiber and protein are good for you, it could restrict your thinking about food and healthy eating in the future. Instead, experts prefers using the SMART method, which stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely to identify health and fitness goals and the necessary steps for accomplishing them. 

How you approach food and exercise, be it to lower body fat, increase muscle mass, or simply feel your absolute best is personal and because of this, can’t be defined solely by a body type. It is best to meet with functional dieticians and physical trainers and take a whole-person approach to health to develop a long-term and consistent routine, which have the most success.

Key Takeaway 

People with an endomorph body type may gain weight easier and take longer to lose it because they tend to have a slow metabolism, low muscle mass, and high amounts of body fat.

Endomorph diet plans usually focus on avoiding refined carbohydrates and eating a mix of healthful fats, proteins, and carbohydrates from vegetables, nuts, fruits, and whole-grain foods.

Most endomorph diet plans also involve doing regular cardiovascular and strength exercises to burn calories, boost metabolism, and build lean muscle.


(1) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128012826000115

(2) https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/endomorph-diet#diet

(3) https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance

(4) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/

(5) https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0165378

(6) https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/endomorph-diet#diet

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