Genetics: Your Body Type and Weight Loss

I thought it would be good to tackle another genetics and heredity topic on the Blitz Conditioning blogs.  We wrote on the genetics and weight loss a while ago where we mentioned a little bit about how genes have a role in our body composition so I thought I’d expand on somatotypes or body types.  An important thing to note about somatotypes, before we dive too deeply into this subject, is that we can get a general idea about it but we can only truly know where we fall in the continuum after we have committed to exercise and proper nutrition for some time.  We need to look at all factors that affect weight loss and increasing muscle mass before we can draw conclusions about our bodies.  Remeber too, somatotypes and genetics only account for about 20% of  weight loss.  Also, body types fall in a continuum, so it’s not necessary that people fit in one category alone but we all probably have traits of all three in some combination.  So let’s dive into the three descriptions of body types!  Generally people fit within a continuum of three body types:

The Ectomorph:

We all have that friend who can eat anything and everything on the menu and not gain a pound of weight.  They classically have a narrow waist, long limbs, and low body fat percentage.  The younger ectomorphs generally have no problem losing fat if they start exercising.  They also have a problem gaining visible muscle mass but not necessarily strength since those are two different things.

The Mesomorph:

We probably know someone that barely spends time at the gym but they sport a six pack and some impressive musculature. People in this category generally look well proportioned with very little exercise necessary.  Much like an ectomorph, mesomorphs generally have no issue losing weight but they have the advantage of gaining muscle more easily.

The Endomorph:

Endomorphs are naturally more rounded in shape.  They usually have a “Pear Shaped” or “Apple Shaped” look.  We may have problems losing weight more especially fat in those problematic areas.  While endomorphs may have the lack of ability to lose fat weight, they can also gain muscle fast which increases basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories a person burns while resting).

Before we start fitting ourselves into these boxes remember that in order to truly determine where our bodies lie in this continuum we need to exercise and eat properly.  Our genetics are constantly interacting with our environment which like we said before also includes exercise, nutrition, sleep, and a few other things.   Somatotypes are also a continuum, meaning that most people do not fit strictly in one category alone but will have characteristics of all three types.  There are a lot of articles out there looking at how to approach exercise according to our somatotype in order to either gain muscle or lose weight but my strongest recommendation is that people should stop worrying about how to exercise and just do it.  We get hung up in details far too often when we should simply be concentrated on doing it.  It’s the analogy that we need to learn how to crawl before we walk, and walk before we run!

I’ll be covering approaches to exercise and nutrition according to somatotype in the next few weeks so stay tuned!

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About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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  1. Thanks! We edited the blog, our apologies for the mistake we’ll make sure we proof read more carefully in the future!

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