All body types will try to tailor their diet in order to see the best results possible. Ectomorphs will typically bulk to build up muscle but no other body type needs to be more selective about their diet choices than an endomorph.
Endomorphs gain body fat quickly but they also find it difficult to then lose this excess body fat once accumulated. This means choosing the right diet can be crucial for body composition!
One popular diet (especially for fat loss) is the ketogenic diet but do endomorphs do well on keto?
Endomorphs do very well on a keto diet as it allows them to control carbohydrate intake. A characteristic of endomorphs is insulin resistance, this means they can’t metabolize carbs efficiently and store excess body fat as a result. As keto restricts carb intake, endomorphs do very well on this diet.
In this article, I’ll cover how keto can be a good diet for endomorphs (though there are plenty of other diets that will work just as well). I’ll also look into what the science shows in relation to this and whether or not you should consider doing a keto diet.
What Is an Endomorph
Like all somatotypes (body types), endomorphs have certain characteristics that are easily distinguishable from other body types. As a quick disclaimer, not everyone agrees with profiling people based on body types and I loosely fall into that category. Most diet and training plans will work for most people, regardless of what your apparent “body type” is.
Ironically though, I do like to initially use body types as an initial indicator. That’s because the characteristics of most body types are definitely relatable. I’m tall, have small joints, and initially had difficulty gaining lean muscle mass so I’d classify myself as an ectomorph.
Body types are good for giving general indicators and endomorphs have the following characteristics:
- A wide frame (particularly around the hips)
- High body fat percentage (easily gain weight and find it difficult to lose it)
- A high proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers (built for power)
- Slow metabolism
- Easily gain muscle mass
- Naturally strong (check out → are endomorphs strong)
- Low insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance (favor storing carbohydrates as body fat rather than muscle glycogen)
If you’re reading this article in the first place, chances are you can easily relate to a few of these characteristics above! When looking at some of these, in particular, you’ll find that a high body fat percentage, slow metabolism, insulin resistance, and overall poor nutrient partitioning means that diet is crucial for endomorphs looking to lose or at least maintain weight.
What Is the Best Diet for Endomorphs
Firstly, most diets will work for most body types. The most important thing is overall calorie intake and to a lesser extent, macro ratios. If you want to lose weight, a calorie deficit is needed and if you want to build muscle mass and gain weight, a calorie surplus is needed.
This is why liquid diets and fad diets work in the short term. These diets put you into a very steep calorie deficit so you’ll lose body fat but in the process, you’ll also lose muscle, water and find it difficult/impossible to stick to these kinds of diets in the long term.
Therefore, your first approach to dieting should be to select a diet that you think you can stick to. Adherence is the most important thing when seeing results on a diet so there is no point committing to a diet if you know you’ll be craving a cheat day immediately and likely to fall off the wagon after two weeks.
** The exception to the above is if you have quite a regimented mentality. If you say you are going to follow one type of diet and see it through to the end, then you can pick any and just stick it out.
With that in mind, I’d recommend endomorphs opt for a diet that’s lower in carbohydrates so either a carb cycling diet or a ketogenic diet. For the purpose of this article, we’ll look into a keto diet in more detail and see why it’s so well suited to endomorphs.
Do Endomorphs Do Well on Keto
A keto diet (technically called a ketogenic diet) is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb diet that triggers ketosis. Once in ketosis, the body will use fat as its primary fuel source rather than carbohydrates which leads to the first reason why endomorphs do well on a keto diet:
- Endomorph Insulin Resistance
As mentioned earlier, endomorphs are often highly insulin resistant and this is one of the primary reasons why they can find it so frustratingly easy to gain body fat just by looking at a donut! Ok, I might be exaggerating slightly with the donut comment but still, it’s insulin resistance that’s a strong contributing factor.
Without getting too technical, insulin is a hormone that is triggered by carbohydrate intake. The trigger is mainly part of the process for utilizing carbs for muscle growth but when you are more resistant to insulin (the signaling is less sensitive to carbs), you’ll start to store carbs as body fat rather than muscle glycogen.
This is one of the primary reasons why two people can look the same, eat the same, train the same but look very different from a body composition viewpoint.
Therefore, when consuming a high-fat diet, you immediately need to reduce your carb intake (more on this later) and the fewer carbs you consume, the less likely you are to store any excess that is not utilized by the body for energy as excess body fat.
- Keto Reduces Cravings for Endomorphs
Another issue that endomorphs face when dieting is cravings. Carbs, especially fast-digesting carbs are absorbed into the bloodstream and used by the body for energy over a relatively short period of time (30 – 180 minutes).
Once the energy is used, your body will naturally signal for more and this is why high-carb diets made up of fast-absorbing carbs (sugar, pasta, bread, cereal) lead to serious cravings and are arguably one of the main reasons why people overeat on a diet and end up in a calorie surplus.
Scientists do say that sugar is one of the most addictive substances on earth!
Fats, however, can be utilized for energy just like carbs (especially once you are in ketosis) and they also have the added benefit of being highly satiating. I’m not going to say foods high in fat are the best because, for one thing, 1g of fat is the equivalent to 9 calories whereas 1g of protein/carb is only equal to 4 calories.
Therefore, you could eat a smaller meal that consists of a high-fat content and consume significantly more calories than one made up of mostly carbs and protein.
Overall though, the more satiating the food, and less likely you are to crave foods after eating is a key benefit and reason why endomorphs can do so well on keto.
- Keto Can Give Endomorphs More Energy
This is closely linked to the section above (and does not apply to everyone), but endomorphs can do well on keto because it provides them with more energy throughout the day. I mentioned above that carbs can often increase cravings throughout the day, especially fast-digesting carbs.
Well, this also means that you’ll see waves in energy levels with peaks and also drops. Now a lot of people can just have a higher carb intake spaced out over the course of a day to combat this but endomorphs (with insulin resistance) are more likely to increase carbs intake and see fat gain as a result.
A high fat intake however releases energy at a slower and more consistent rate due to a slower digestion process. Therefore, endomorphs or overweight individuals will often see or at least feel an energy boost on a keto diet because there are fewer drops in blood sugar levels throughout the day.
What Macros Should an Endomorph Eat on Keto
I’ve previously done an article on a similar topic for those of you that are looking for more general recommendations for endomorph macro ratios. This is laid out in terms of fat loss or losing weight but when it comes to selecting a very specific diet (like keto), you need to also be more specific when it comes to macro ratios.
The first reason being that macros are the most important thing if you want to get into a state of ketosis. The balance is very delicate and if you just make one overindulgence when it comes to carbohydrate intake, this will then prevent you from getting into a state of ketosis and burning fat.
Secondly, there are a few different tiers when it comes to designing macro ratios for ketosis but a true ketosis diet always requires a large percentage of your macros coming directly from fats. Therefore, when setting keto diet you should look at the following macro ratios as there are three main categories for keto:
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
An SKD will follow a macro split of 70 – 75% of calories from fats, 20 – 25% from protein, and just 5 – 10% from carbs. As a macro split, this could like like the following:
- 20g – 50g carbs
- 40g – 60g protein
- The rest of your calories are made up of fats.
To work out your specific macro split, you’ll first need to work out your maintenance calorie requirements. You can then calculate a cutting or bulking calorie intake but it’s best to reverse engineer it from total calories.
As an example, if I have a daily calorie target of 2,000 calories. I’ll consume 25g of carbs which is 100 calories (1g of carbs equals 4 calories so 25g x 4). I’ll consume 50g of protein which is a further 200 calories (1g of protein also equals 4 calories so 50g x 4).
To calculate fats ill subtract the carb and protein calories from my daily target:
2500 (daily calorie target) – 100 (carb calories) – 200 (protein calories) = 2200 calories.
To convert the remaining calories into grams, you’ll divide the remaining figure by 9 (1g of fat equals 9 calories). Therefore, fat will be: 2200 / 9 = 245g fat.
Endomorph macro ratios following a standard Ketogenic diet will therefore be:
- Fat – 245g
- Protein – 50g
- Carbs – 25g
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
A Targeted Ketogenic Diet allows for more flexibility when it comes to carb intake when compared with an SKD. The rationale behind this being that you can consume carbs around a workout window (1 – 2 hours before and after) as these carbs will then be prioritized for energy expenditure during exercise.
While this is similar to the SKD option, it’s still worth noting that carb intake still needs to be relatively low as a percentage of your overall macro split. With this approach though you can push the upper limit for carbs to better utilize them for workouts only.
One final point to note is that the SKD is the approach most take to get into ketosis. If you’re reading this, chances are this isn’t your main priority and while the aim is still to get into ketosis for the benefits, just consuming higher fat and lower carbs is enough to improve your physique.
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) (H3)
The most controversial of the keto diets is the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. This approach is similar to carb cycling and you’ll have higher carb days as refeeds followed by numerous low carb days. This works well for performance as you top up muscle glycogen stores but it is very difficult to manage in terms of macro ratios.
With this approach, you’ll essentially follow “keto” days where you will have a macro split similar to the SKD but on “off” days, you’ll have a more balanced macro ratio split which could look something like this:
- Carbs – 45%
- Protein – 35%
- Fat – 20%
This approach is definitely more difficult though and would not be the one I’d recommend for most endomorphs, it’s more of an athlete based approach for those that want to follow keto but have the best of both worlds and have some high carb days (not really ideal for endomorphs!).
Regardless of body types, there’s no such thing as the best diet and everyone responds differently to diets depending on their own specific biology and preferences. As an endomorph though, there are some diets you’d respond much better to than others.
When it comes to a keto diet, this may be a trendy and often overhyped diet but it’s also a diet that many endomorphs will do well on!
It keeps carb intake low which is the most beneficial factor when it comes to body composition and also helps to reduce cravings while providing a more sustained release of energy.
It’s not a magic diet though and the same rules apply when it comes to any diet which is setting the correct calorie intake for your goals and managing energy balance.
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