The mesomorph body type is one of the three somatotypes, along with the endomorph and ectomorph body types. But what does it mean to have a mesomorph body type and follow the mesomorph diet? We answer all of these questions below and provide a guide for how to optimize your health with a mesomorphic body type.
What Does It Mean to Be a Mesomorph?
The mesomorph body type, sometimes called the athletic body type, is in many ways a mix between the endomorph and ectomorph. While mesomorph can lose weight easily, it gains weight just as easily. Mesomorphs don’t burn fat as readily as ectomorphs, but they also don’t hold onto fat as much as endomorphs. Mesomorphs tend to build muscle quickly.
The body structure of a mesomorph is sometimes described as balanced or well proportioned, and tend toward a body composition that emphasizes muscle. Mesomorphs tend to have broad shoulders and an overall athletic build. A mesomorphic body type may be more likely to have genetic tendencies for sports and athletic activity. In fact, it’s thought that mesomorphs may be more likely to inherit the “athletic gene,” also called the ACTN3 gene. Research shows that certain variations of this gene benefit muscle growth, muscle function, and protect against sports-related injuries. (1)
However, this doesn’t mean that all mesomorphs are natural-born athletes. The framework may be there, but hard work through tailored diet and lifestyle plans help mesomorphs reach their athletic potential and optimal health. Keep in mind that for all body types, there is a significant amount of variation. For example, you may identify as having a mesomorphic body type with either endomorphic or ectomorphic tendencies. Moreover, body type and metabolism are heavily influenced by age, gender, hormones, diet, lifestyle, and other environmental factors.
How do you know if you have a mesomorphic body type? Here are some signs that you tend toward the mesomorph body type.
- Naturally fluctuating weight
- Fat distribution throughout the body is balanced
- You may be naturally inclined towards physical activity
- Easily gain and lose fat and muscle
- You are heavier than you look
- Broad shoulders and bone structure
- Muscle tone throughout arms and legs
Let’s get into the diet and lifestyle factors that are most beneficial for the mesomorph body type.
Tips for Following the Mesomorph Diet
The mesomorph diet is characterized by balanced food groups as well as consistent nutrient intake and eating frequency.
1. Balance Macronutrients
Much like the endomorph body type, mesomorphs tend to do best when their meals contain a balance of protein, carbs, and fats. However, depending on individual tendencies and levels of physical activity, mesomorphs also respond well to a higher-carb diet or high-protein diet.
When following a mesomorph diet, aim to get the majority of your carbs from whole foods like whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, and beans. Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates and added sugars that are rapidly converted to sugar, spike blood sugar levels, and are stored as body fat and over time contribute to fatty liver disease. Steer clear of white rice, white pasta, baked goods, candy, and soda.
Fats should come primarily from fatty fish and plant-based fat sources like avocado, nuts, and seeds. Avoid fatty meats and dairy to cut down on saturated fat intake. Saturated fat interferes with metabolic function, clogs insulin receptors, and can lead to weight gain and cardiovascular disease.
2. Occasional Fasting
Because the mesomorph body type is highly reactive to surroundings and gains and loses weight easily, eating patterns like fasting and carb cycling may not prove to have as much of an impact as they do on those with endomorphic tendencies. Occasional fasting may help the mesomorph body reset the digestive system and metabolism.
However, the mesomorphic body and athletic metabolism may respond best to consistency when it comes to nutrient intake.
3. Monitor Calorie Intake
Mesomorphs require enough calories to fuel rapid muscle growth, but too many calories will cause the body to hold onto extra energy as fat. While the mesomorph does not need to focus on eating lots of calories like the ectomorph, the mesomorph also doesn’t usually need to watch calorie intake as closely as the endomorph tends to.
4. Get All Essential Amino Acids
To support rapidly growing muscle, you need to feed it all essential amino acids on a daily basis. Without optimal ratios of all nutritionally essential amino acids, muscle synthesis slows down considerably. Our bodies rely on essential amino acids to fuel not only muscle synthesis but also neurotransmitter production and enzyme manufacturing.
Animal proteins provide ideal amounts of essential amino acids. Moderate amounts of lean animal proteins, like whey protein, chicken breast, and nonfat dairy and healthy for the mesomorphic body type. However, to keep up with rigorous exercise or to ensure that you are meeting all of your body’s amino acid needs, a high-quality protein powder supplement or essential amino acid supplement can fill in any gaps.
5. Focus on Micronutrients
In addition to macronutrients, micronutrients are absolutely essential components of a healthy diet. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids help all of your cells operate at optimal capacity. They also help your body clear cellular waste from oxidative stress – a major contributor to fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, autoimmune diseases, and other inflammatory conditions. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants even play a role in slowing the aging process.
Plus, the body’s metabolism functions more smoothly when you eat more micronutrients, burning fat and building muscle at a quicker rate. You can find high concentrations of micronutrients in plant-based foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. For example, cherries, blueberries, oranges, beets, kale, spinach, broccoli, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are filled with health-promoting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Sample Mesomorphic Diet Plan
Below we’ve put together a sample daily meal plan to support the optimal health for the mesomorph body type.
- Breakfast: A plant-based breakfast burrito can provide mesomorph body types with optimal amounts of fuel that they need for the day. To construct a breakfast burrito, start with a whole-grain tortilla. Layer with one scrambled egg, black beans, brown rice, sautéed spinach, chopped tomatoes, salsa, and sliced avocado. Enjoy your coffee with an addition of essential amino acid powder, for an extra protein kick. If savory breakfasts aren’t your thing, go for overnight oats. In a jar, add rolled oats, unsweetened soymilk, a couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseeds, and chopped dates. Soak overnight and enjoy in the morning with a spoonful of coconut oil and topped with sliced bananas and fresh blueberries.
- Lunch: For lunch, prepare a bowl of chopped kale and spinach. Top your greens with seasoned lentils, grilled chicken, and a scoop of whole-grain pasta. Kale and spinach are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, while lentils and whole-grain pasta are filled with dietary fiber for gut health and complex carbs for sustained energy. A small serving of grilled chicken can help you meet your essential amino acid requirements for the day.
- Dinner: A stir fry with vegetables and tofu make a hearty and nutritious dinner. Combine cubed tofu and sliced bell peppers, carrots, onions, garlic, broccoli, snap peas, and cauliflower in a pan. Sauté in a little olive oil and season with curry powder, turmeric, lemongrass, salt, and pepper. Serve over brown rice.
- Snack: A protein shake on days of intense weight-training can help you meet your calorie and protein requirements for fueling efficient muscle growth. Combine frozen bananas, frozen blueberries, unsweetened almond milk, and a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder or essential amino acid powder. Blend and enjoy.
The Mesomorphic Exercise Regimen
A well-planned exercise regimen has additive impacts on health when combined with the foundation of a healthy diet. Endomorphs can reach their fitness goals by combining a blend of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, cardio, and flexibility work. The mesomorphic body responds well to a variety of exercises that challenge the body and muscles in different ways.
Try alternating cardio sessions, HIIT, strength training, and flexibility training throughout the week.
1. Long-Distance Running
Long-distance running is a test of endurance and improves your heart health and cardiovascular health. If you’re new to long-distance running, simply start with running a mile. With each run, increase the distance by half a mile until you can comfortably run five miles.
2. Workout Dance Class
These workouts are cardio-based, getting your heart pumping, and increasing your cardiovascular strength. You can even just turn on music at your home and create your own dance workout to break a sweat.
3. HIIT Workouts
You can attend HIIT workout classes, or simply create your own circuit of high-intensity exercises. Burpees, weighted lunges, and staircase sprints make excellent high-intensity exercises.
4. Strength Training
Lifting weights and engaging in regular strength-training and resistance training is vital for stimulating muscle growth and maintaining muscle strength. Bench presses, deadlifts, bicep curls, lateral pulls, and leg presses are excellent examples of strength-training exercises. Make sure that you keep the proper form to avoid injury. If you’re new to weight training, start out with lighter weights, and gradually work your way up to heavier weights.
Engaging in yoga poses can be challenging for a mesomorphic body type, especially if body composition is very high in muscle. Muscle fibers can become inflexible and tense over time, and to maintain optimal athletic performance, flexibility training is key. Holding yoga poses is effective for gradually lengthening muscle fibers and undoing cross-links between muscles that impede fluid movements. Try the downward-facing dog, chair pose, and warrior poses to test your flexibility and balance. Yoga is not only good for flexibility and performance but also helps reduce the risk of injury.
6. Out-of-the-Box Exercises
Testing yourself with unconventional workouts is a great way to confuse your muscles and challenge them to respond to new stimuli. Here are a few examples of untraditional workouts:
- Rock-climbing: Rock climbing at a climbing wall is a bodyweight exercise that involves all muscle groups.
- Trampoline park: Though this might just sound like fun, it’s also a harder workout than you might expect! Try out all the trampolines and partake in a game of dodge ball.
- Obstacle courses: Grab a friend and try out an obstacle course or mud race that challenges you with different games.
- Hiking and backpacking: Getting outdoors and enjoying the sunshine and scenery can be a refreshing way to exercise. Plus, hiking uphill while carrying supplies is an excellent workout that tests both your muscles and cardiovascular strength. If you’re hiking at higher altitudes, your cardiovascular strength will be put to the test, since higher altitudes supply less oxygen.
Other Lifestyle Factors
The mesomorph body type is highly adaptable and responds quickly to surroundings, diet, and lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and regulating stress helps to regulate hormones, lower inflammation, and allow the body to make the most of diet and exercise routines. Getting adequate sleep and monitoring stress are also extremely important, regardless of your body type.
Getting regular sunshine may also play a role in regulating the mesomorph’s sleep-wake cycle. Getting outside during the day helps you get a better night’s sleep. Plus, sunshine helps your skin synthesize vitamin D, which promotes healthy immune function, supports muscle synthesis and improves mood.
Experiment with What Works for You
Though body typing provides helpful guidelines for trying out effective diet and exercise routines, body type diets and lifestyle plans are not one-size-fits-all. It’s crucial that you experiment with what works best for your specific preferences, food sensitivities, schedule, body structure, genetics, and medical conditions.
A good strategy is jotting down observational notes in a journal. Maybe your body doesn’t respond well to soy protein and you do better with lean meats, protein supplements, and essential amino acid supplements. Or, perhaps you’re sensitive to hormones in dairy products that seem to trigger breakouts. Maybe eating animal products affects your athletic performance, or perhaps apples make you bloated. Whatever you eat during the day, the physical activities you engage in throughout the day, and your eating patterns can reveal a trend over time. This allows you to make adjustments where necessary and is the best way to tailor your dietary and exercise plan to fit your needs.
The Bottom Line
The mesomorphic body type combines characteristics of both the endomorphic and ectomorphic body types. It is typically described as an athletic body type and responds well to varied exercises and a balanced dietary regimen.