Somatotype & Body Types: Find Out Yours

I was passing through Chattanooga, TN last week and as a preamble to my journey to Atlanta I stopped at Large Marge’s Buffet to eat. Let me tell you right now, I don’t care who the survey of the fattest city in the USA crowned as number one.

The patrons of Large Marge’s Buffett could lay claim to that title hands down. Heck, they could very well start their own city since the enormous girth of each person hunched over their trough would count for at least three mortal men of four women.

I didn’t dare go near that mine field that was supposed to be a buffet line. I opted out for a plate of scrambled eggs and under cooked bowl of soupy oats.

When I made my way to the front counter to pay, none other than large Marge herself was working the register; and believe me when I tell you that there was no shortage of “Large” in Marge. She certainly lived up to her billing

On the wall behind a finger print smudged greasy frame was a one dollar bill, right next to a photo of her joint. “What’s that dollar for?” I asked her.

“That’s the first dollar I made from the first meal I sold” Large Marge replied.

They say you always get your greatest ideas when you least expect it. Then it hit me. If there ever was a Kairos moment this was it.

How about you start a fat loss diet there Large Marge, instead of sandwiching a one dollar bill between two greasy pieces of glass and hanging it on the wall, I’d like to see you take that first pound of fat you lost and dip it into a jar of formaldehyde and sit it right next to the cash register or better yet you can nail that slippery little sucker to the wall!

That’s right, and take down that picture of your joint and put up a new transformed image of your physique-albeit potentially three years from now.

That way when people ask you what that slimy yellow blob dripping from your wall is you don’t have to lie and tell them it is a piece of your stomach you had sliced out from your gastric bypass, you can be truthful and inform your local buffet brethren that is was the first pound of the attrition from years of sausage gravy and country fried steak.

Ok so Maybe Large Marge wasn’t down with the whole first pound of fat thing. Still though, there has got to be a better way for Large Marge to slim down than gouging out a sizeable amount of her digestive track and being relegated to eating like a sparrow for the rest of her life. After all what kind of example would that be setting for the locals?

What if you aren’t quite like Large Marge though? What if you were on the entire other end of the spectrum?

What if you thought you couldn’t gain any beef no matter how much you shoveled down your gullet and Olive Oyl from those old school Popeye Cartoons puts you to shame?

Or even worse, ya’ know, the typical skinny kid with a pudgy belly that resembled an inner tube around the mid section. Listen up, if you are going to be skinny you better be ripped, or get big, enough of this skinny- fat bullshit.

Or what if you already have an acceptable figure and just want to transition from mortal (wo) man to superwoman status?

The answer to all these questions can be better answered once you identify your somatotype or metabolic type.

Knowing what to eat or what not to eat can have a profound effect on your physique development.

The number one factor I always base an eating pattern or training program off of is the somatotype of the individual.

However here is where it gets tricky.

Most people don’t have a pure somatotype but rather a subtype of two or even all three but leaning more towards one than the others. I will discuss more on this in a minute.

Also, your somatotype never changes.

Say what?

That’s right, even if an ectomorph packs on fifty pounds of blubber that person is still an ectomorph.

Even if an endomorph whittles away down to a polished and ripped 4% body fat physique, the chick is still an endomorph.

One of the characteristics that determine a person’s somatotype is the finite factor of bone structure. Yes you may make a significant upgrade in your muscle mass or revamp your sexiness by melting off the equivalent of three Sam’s Club sized tubs of ice cream but your bone structure isn’t going to budge an inch.

Granted very few people have a truly pure somatotype but rather a subtype with the majority of characteristics leaning toward one of the three.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words; well this picture is worth just a few subtypes.

Back during the 1998 football season when Donavan McNabb and Ricky Williams were ripping and snorting through Sports Center high-light reelss a little known freshman made his debut in the college scene.

In the photo below, barely cracking the two hundred pound mark, true freshman Adrian Wilson offers me some words of encouragement as we hustle off the field after creating a turnover.

A-Dub offering his congrats after a fumble I just caused.

A-Dub offering his congrats after a fumble I just caused.

(A-Dub wanted to scoop & score on a fumble I just caused.)

That offseason both of us had shoulder surgery and spent our time rehabbing together. I noticed something very interesting. After about a month of no weight training my body became mushier than a beanie baby and my poor chest deflated faster then a punctured birth day balloon.

Ok well nothing very interesting about a moderate ectomorph such as myself losing muscle when I stopped weight training but what was very unusual was that the other ectomorph who was rehabbing along side with me was actually building muscle.

In fact A-Dub, as he had been dubbed by our defensive captain earlier that year, had inched his weight up to a rock solid two-ten.

Alright, so other then the fact that he was blessed with hyper human genetics, there had to be a reason this kid was growing into a man child with nothing more then thera-band use and concentric only pool rehab.

Remember, only a very small percentage of the population is a pure somatotype. Although A-Dub possessed a rock solid physique many of his physical characteristics pointed to the ectomorph: small joints, narrow hips, thin, low body fat, long limbs.

One big difference though. He all but shattered the mold of the slow twitch, endurance based athlete typically found in the ectomorph. Talk about vapor trail speed and to say he had “hops” was putting it mildly; you would have thought he had rocket boosters in his cleats.

Now tippin the scales in the 225 lb range.

Now tippin the scales in the 225 lb range.

The moral of the story is that just because you gain a truckload of muscle or lose tub full of adipose tissue, your somatotype never changes. However I believe that in some cases it actually takes reaching early adulthood in order for one to identify their true somatotype.

Sometimes you just need a few extra years in the weight room, in front of the buffet line or that late blooming adolescent growth spurt to reach your full potential, and in the end it will almost always lean more towards one of the three somatotypes.

The god father of genetic stereotyping William H. Sheldon, M.D. sought to draw connections between body type and temperament.

He used a numerical system as a means of quantifying how much of each somotatype a person displayed. He used a three digit code setting an order of endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph.

A scale of 1 to 7 was used. The closer the number to 1, the less the relation to the somatotype, the closer to 7 the greater.

So the A-Dub example above would have been something like 165.

On a side note Sheldon found that after measuring the proportions of hundreds of juvenile delinquent boys he came to the conclusion that they were generally mesomorphs.

Old school Ayurvedic medicine as in ~3,000 BC old; was founded on the concept of metabolic body types also referred to as doshas. The three doishas are vata, pitta and kapha.

Deepak Chopra M.D., the Dalai Lama of Ayurvedic medicine to the western world believes a persons dosha to have far greater influence on a person’s health and well being than physical attributes alone.

The goal is to always keep your dosha in balance or harmony.

Anything from weather, allergies, diet or stress can throw your harmony off kilter.

Combining Sheldon’s somatoype with Ayurvedic doshas we can get a more clear view of the cluster of traits that make up each of us.

It’s surprising how many traits from the different somatotypes and doshas one person can possess. Even with all the crossover of traits being sprinkled from one end of the spectrum to the other there is usually one somatotype or dosha that is a bit more predominant.

I don’t think it would take long to determine the somatotype for Big Ed but for many of us going beyond the physical characteristics and peering deeper into what makes up the temperament types and doshas will reveal some interesting facts.
Let’s take a look at what Sheldon and Chopra uncovered.

Metabolic Typing for the Mortal (Wo)Man

Somatotype: Ectomorph

Physical Characteristics: Linear
Ectomorphy is related to the brain and nervous system.

 – Long limbs
– Shoulders droop
– Predisposed to lower body fat levels
– Frequent urination and bowel movements
– Thin muscles and slow twitch dominant
– Thyroid and sympathetic nervous system dominant
– Baldness is rare
– Suffers from dry skin and rashes
– Hypersensitive to pain resulting in a lower threshold of pain
– Appear younger than their age
– Thrives on high carbohydrate diet
– Quick onset of hunger
– Low energy levels
– Suffers from quasi-chronic fatigue and must not exercise too hard
Good example of a pure-ectomorph I worked worked with who was able to cut out 80% of her exercise and increase her food intake resulting in melting off her body fat and building rock hard muscle.

Good example of a pure-ectomorph I worked worked with who was able to cut out 80% of her exercise and increase her food intake resulting in melting off her body fat and building rock hard muscle.

Temperament: Reflection
Ectotonia focuses on privacy, restraint, and a highly developed self-awareness

– Finely tuned receptive system
– Quiet
– Restrained
– Non-assertive
– Sensitive
– Future oriented
– Accentuated consciousness fights alcohol, drugs, anesthesia and hypnosis
– Dream of a rich fantasy life

– Seek privacy
Dosha: VataShape:
– Slender
– Prominent joints and veins with cool dry skin
– Prone to anxiety, insomnia, premenstrual cramps and constipation
Character:
-Enthusiastic
-Impulsive
-Good at initiating tasks but poor at finishing them
-Energy fluctuates with jagged peaks and valleys
Foods to Favor to keep Dosha in Harmony:
-Cooked vegetables
-Sweet fruits
-Cooked oats and rice, wheat
-Chickpeas, mung beans, pink lentils
-Chicken , seafood , turkey
-Sweet potatoes, chick peas, cooked rice and oats and wheat
-All nuts and seeds, almonds are best
-All oils, especially sesame and olive oil

Somatotype: Mesomorph

Physical Characteristic: Muscles
Mesomorphy is the focus of the muscles and the circulatory system.

A 1-6-5 Mesomorph

A 1-6-5 Mesomorph

-Large bones and well defined muscles
-Square jaw
-Chest dominates over abdominal area
-Baldness starts at front of head
-Muscles on either side of neck create a pyramid affect
-Thick and coarse skin
-Wrists and fingers are heavy and massive
-Women tend to have less mesmorphy then men
Temperament: Action
-Mesotonia is centered on assertiveness and love of action.
-Plenty of energy
-Work for long periods of time
-Eats rapidly and randomly
-Requires little sleep
-Insensitivity to pain
-Tendency to high blood pressure
-No hesitation in approaching others to express wants and desires
-Fond of gambling and fast driving
-Argumentative
-Have a history of acting out physically
-Walks roughshod over people who stand in the way of his achieving what he/she wants
-Look older than their age
-Noisy with loud voices
-Likes wide open spaces
-Those of above average height expect and get special treatment
Dosha: Pita
Shape: Medium build, strength and endurance
-Fair haired , red or blonde, ruddy complexion
-Perspire heavily, warm often thirsty
-Prone to acne, hemorrhoids, ulcers
Character: Critical
-Passionate with short temper
-Efficient in daily habits
-Eats and sleeps regularly
Foods to Favor to keep Dosha in Harmony:
-Sweet fruits
-Sweet and bitter vegetables
-Barley, oats, wheat, basmati rice
-Butter, egg whites, ice cream, milk
-Chickpeas, mung beans
-Coconut, olive, soy, sunflower oil
-Coconut, pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Somatotype: Endomorph

Physical Characteristic: Muscles
Mesomorphy is the focus of the muscles and the circulatory system.

Traci, a pure endomorph I worked with still took 6 months of smart customized nutrition and training programs to drop 31 lbs of body fat.

Traci, a pure endomorph I worked with still took 6 months of smart customized nutrition and training programs to drop 31 lbs of body fat.

Short arms and legsSmall hands and feetHigh waistIn males there is some development of the breasts and buttocksSoft and smooth skinTendency toward premature balding at the top of headSpherical shaped headTemperament: Friendliness
Endotonia is seen in the love of relaxation, comfort, food and people.Sleep easilySlow reactionsLower than normal basal metabolism, pulse, breathing rate and temperature

Poor circulation in hands and feet

Love company

Highly developed maternal instincts

Expression and desire for affection and approval

Dosha: Kapha

Shape:

Heavy and strong

Tend to be overweight

Oily hair, cool, damp, pale skin

Prone to high cholesterol, obesity, allergies and sinus problems

Character:

Tend to procrastinate

Obstinate

Slow to anger and act

Relaxed

Foods to favor to keep Dosha in Harmony:

Pungent and bitter vegetables

Dried fruits

Barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, dry oats, rye, basmati rice

Warm skim milk, small amounts of eggs (never fried)

Chicken , shrimp, turkey

Almond, corn, safflower and sunflower oil

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Large Marge get sexy diet

I’m not sayin’ Large Marge will give Justine Monroe a run for her money on the stage, but the big girl has got to start somewhere.

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In addition to eating complete protein sources, low glycemic carbohydrates and healthy fats there are two other components I offer.Step one for the endomorph battle of the bulge is follow the principal of volumetrics. That is eating a high volume of low density, moderate fiber, nutrient rich foods to promote satiety.Step two for the large woman would be to introduce thermogenic foods with every meal during her daily grazing.Mesomorph into Greek god?I can’t tell you how many collegiate level athlete stage “7” mesomorphs I have witnessed only get four hours of sleep, skip breakfast, eat a corn dog, fries and soda for lunch and not even have it faze them a bit in the weight room or practice field performance.New personal records were broken, enthusiasm through the roof and the kids came out pumped and chiseled out of granite. This was followed with a candy bar and then a plate of chicken wings at dinner.To think one could attain such amazing performance and aesthetics with such poor lifestyle choices, I couldn’t help but to have the thought cross my mind that is these genetic elite only changed their nutrition protocol just how profound would the results be?So even if you are a mere mortal like Large Marge or Olive Oyl that doesn’t mean you can’t come one step closer to looking like Superwoman.About the author:Jeff Kuh, is a former collegiate athlete and strength coach who transitioned into the private sector in 2001. He has designed customized diet & training programs for people all around the world through his online business. Combined with over 20 years of “In the Trenches” experience he also has over 30 published articles.References:

Ornstein, R. (1993). The Roots of the Self: Unraveling the mystery of who we are. New York: Harper Collins.

Phares, J. E. (1991). Introduction to Personality (3rd ed.). New York: Harper Collins.

“Application of Ayurveda: Balancing Doshas.” Ayurveda HolisticOnline.com
22 Sept. 2009

“The Somatotypes of Sheldon.” Human Nature | Human Types
26 Sept. 2009

       

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