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The Endomorph – Hard Losers and Their Training and Nutrition Strategy
Most people who are working hard but still struggling to lose body fat are endomorphs. An endomorph is someone with a slow metabolism who is genetically prone to store fat easily. Endomorphs are usually, but not always, large framed with medium to large joints.
Endomorphs sometimes have varying degrees of carbohydrate sensitivity and insulin resistance, so high carbohydrate diets are usually not effective for body fat control. Processed and refined carbohydrates that contain white sugar and white flour are especially detrimental and tend to convert to body fat more rapidly in endomorphs. Low to moderate carbohydrate diets with higher protein usually work best for endomorphs.
While some genetically gifted mesomorphs and ectomorphs can eat whatever they want and never gain any fat, the endomorph must eat clean and healthy almost all the time. This requires the development of high levels of nutritional discipline. Endomorphs are the types who will tend to gain body fat very quickly if they eat too much or if they eat the wrong types of foods.
Endomorphs cannot “cheat” frequently and get away with it. Their metabolisms are extremely unforgiving. One or two cheat meals per week seem to be the limit. Poor daily nutrition habits or frequent cheat days always set them back.
Endomorphs generally have a very difficult time losing fat with diet alone. Even a nearly perfect diet sometimes won’t work by itself because the endomorph needs the boost in metabolism that exercise provides.
A larger quantity of cardio is almost always necessary for the endomorph to lose body fat. Someone with a low endomorph component may stay lean with little or no cardio at all. Extreme endomorphs usually need cardio every day before the body fat begins to come off.
Occasionally, an extreme endomorph (7 on the endomorph scale), will have a difficult time losing fat even while on a well-constructed training and nutrition program. Extreme endomorphs sometimes need to restrict carbohydrates drastically (under 100 g./day for women, under 175 g./day for men) before any substantial fat loss occurs. They may also need to use a carbohydrate cycling approach that rotates high carbohydrate days with low carbohydrate days in order to stimulate their sluggish metabolisms and prevent going into starvation mode. Santa Claus is the archetypical endomorph.
Naturally high levels of body fat (often overweight) Usually large boned, large joints, large frame (but not always) Short, tapering arms and legs Smooth, round body contours (round or pear shaped body) Wide waist and hips Waist dominates over chest Tendency to always store excess calories as fat (can’t get away with overeating) Keeping fat off after it is lost is a challenge Tendency to be sluggish, slow moving and lacking energy Slow thyroid or other hormone imbalance (sometimes) Fairly good strength levels Sensitive to carbohydrates (carbs are easily stored as fat) Responds better to diets with higher protein and low (or moderate) carbs Naturally slow metabolic rate/low set point (fewer calories burned at rest) Falls asleep easily and sleeps deeply A lot of cardio is necessary to lose weight and body fat Extremely difficult to lose weight (requires great effort) Bouts of fatigue and tiredness Often describe themselves as having a “slow metabolism” Tendency to gain fat easily as soon as exercise is stopped Tendency to lose fat slowly, even on a “clean,” low fat, low calorie diet. Often overweight, even though they don’t eat very much Respond best to frequent, even daily, training
Endomorph training and nutrition strategy
When it comes to fat loss, a well-planned, strategic approach to nutrition and training is more important for the endomorph than for any other body type. The endomorph strategy focuses on high levels of activity and extreme levels of discipline and consistency in nutritional habits. Most endomorphs also need some degree of carbohydrate restriction with higher protein levels to compensate.
High protein, medium to low carbs
High protein, low to moderate carb diets work best for the endomorph. Endomorphs usually have varying degrees of carbohydrate sensitivity and insulin resistance. Therefore, high carbohydrate, low fat diets are usually not effective. Sugar is a major no-no: Processed and refined carbohydrates that contain white sugar and white flour tend to convert to body fat very rapidly in endomorphs because of the way they affect the hormone insulin.
Exercise is an absolute MUST
Endomorphs generally have a very difficult time losing fat with diet alone. Even a close-to-perfect diet often doesn’t work by itself because the endomorph needs the boost in metabolism that comes from exercise. The endomorph must do everything in his or her power to stimulate their metabolism and this means combining good nutrition with weight training and aerobic training. To diet without exercising means certain failure for the endomorph.
Large amounts of cardio
Someone with a low endomorph component may stay lean with little or no cardio at all. Endomorphs need a larger quantity of cardio to lose body fat. Most endomorphs will lose fat with surprising ease by doing some type of cardio at least 4 – 5 times per week. Extreme endomorphs usually need cardio every day (seven days per week). All endomorphs will tend to gain the fat back if they stop doing cardio completely. Often, they successfully lose weight, but then put it back on if they haven’t made the commitment to continue exercising for life.
Get more activity in general
Endomorphs usually (but not always) have a tendency towards relaxing as opposed to staying constantly in motion. Their natural inclination is usually to kick back in the easy chair, while their ectomorphic or mesomorphic counterpart might “relax” with a nice 40mile bike ride.
The best strategy for the endomorph is to get active and stay active! You have to get moving! Take up some sports or recreational activities in addition to your regular workouts in the gym. If you’re an endomorph you should get some type of activity almost every day.
Make a lifelong commitment to fitness
Endomorphs must commit to a lifelong exercise program and avoid quick fixes or any short-term approach to fitness. After reaching the long term ultimate body fat and body weight goal, the endomorph needs to commit to at least three days a week of exercise -for life – to keep the fat off. This should be done for health reasons anyway, but for the endomorph, exercise is essential to maintain a desirable body fat ratio. Once you begin, you must keep going or you will lose your momentum. Every time you stop working out, you can be sure the body fat will slowly start to creep back on. Long “vacations” from physical activity are not a good idea. Get your momentum going and keep it going.
The basic endomorph disposition is towards taking it easy and relaxing. If you are an endomorph, you must fight this urge and train with high intensity. You have to push yourself constantly. Not only must you train almost every day, you must push yourself to train harder every day and repeatedly beat your own personal best. The best advice for the endomorph that I’ve ever heard came from a Zen master; Roshi Philip Kapleau. He said,
“Don’t relax your efforts, otherwise it will take you a long time to achieve what you are after.”
Increase your training frequency
This is important – the endomorph must stay in motion to keep their metabolic engine revving. Staying still for too long is the death of the endomorph. The boost in resting metabolism from training doesn’t last long. For someone with a naturally slow metabolism, the only way to keep it elevated is with a high frequency of training.
Increase your training duration
Losing fat all boils down to burning calories. You must burn more calories than you consume each day. The most obvious way to burn more calories is to do your cardio for a longer duration. 20 minutes is the recommended starting point for effective fat burning, but for the endomorph, this is seldom enough. 20 minutes is a maintenance workout for endomorphs. For maximum fat loss I recommend 30-45 minutes of continuous aerobic activity and in some instances it may be necessary to go as long as 60 minutes until a goal is achieved. Go back to the 20-minute workouts for maintenance only after you reach your goal.
Endomorphs should avoid excessive sleep. They should be early risers. The chances are good that if you’re an endomorph, you are not an early riser and you often have the urge to hit snooze and go back to sleep. Resist this urge. Getting up early for morning cardio is one of the best strategies for the endomorph.
Watch Less TV
Any pastimes or hobbies that glue your rear end to a couch are not the preferred option for an endomorph, especially if you also spend 40 hours or more behind a desk each week. This means you should replace as much TV watching as possible with physical recreation or exercise (unless your workout machine is parked in front of the TV and you’re on it).
Use metabolism-stimulating exercise
Weight training exercises that utilize large muscle groups like the back and legs are extremely effective for stimulating the metabolism and for stimulating the hormones that increase fat burning. High rep compound leg exercises (squats, lunges, leg presses, etc) are particularly effective for this purpose. Toning classes, yoga, pilates and similar activities have some fantastic benefits, but for the endomorph, this type of activity is NOT the ideal way to lower body fat. Participate in these activities as a supplement to your regular weights and cardio, but not by themselves.
Always be on the lookout for something to motivate and inspire you.
Endomorphs sometimes lack motivation, especially in the beginning. The solution is to be on the constant lookout for anything and everything to motivate and inspire you. Read biographies. Watch the Olympics, get a training partner, read motivational books, hire a trainer or personal coach, re-write your goals every single day, or enter a before and after fitness contest. Stay pumped up and fired up!
Restrict carbohydrates, but never remove them completely
The endomorph nutrition strategy leans towards higher protein (and slightly higher fat) diet with more moderate carbohydrates (Similar to a “Zone” diet). This is necessary because most endomorphs tend to be carbohydrate sensitive. People with normal carbohydrate metabolisms can consume up to 50-60% of their total calories from carbohydrates and stay lean, while endomorphs will tend to get fat eating this many carbohydrates.
Keep cheat meals to only once per week
Endomorphs have very unforgiving metabolisms. They cannot “cheat” frequently and get away with it. One or two cheat meals per week seem to be the limit. Poor daily habits or frequent cheat days always seem to set them back. Cheat days should be reserved for special occasions or as well-deserved rewards for a week of great training and nutrition.
Be consistent and persistent
The endomorph loses body fat more slowly than ectomorphs or mesomorphs. Therefore, endomorphs must be very consistent and diligent in eating and exercise habits 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Going on and off diet and exercise programs will never work for the endomorph. Endomorphs will lose body fat just like everyone else, but it almost always takes a little longer. The results will come, but not without time and effort. Patience is a virtue all endomorphs must cultivate.
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