For many of us, the start of the new year marks the time to take on – perhaps for the umpteenth time – a new diet. It turns out our success or failure may be closely linked to our ability to shape a plan that conforms to our specific body type. Nutritionists, fitness instructors and health professionals recognize that different body types gain or lose weight at different rates. They have given those types different names and few individuals will fit precisely into a single category. The important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a universal diet. Understanding this will help us work with our body rather than against it, energy will improve and weight will come off naturally.
Health and fitness author Traci D. Mitchell identifies four body types in her book The Belly Burn Plan: Apple, Pear, Inverted Pyramid and Hourglass.
This body type tends to carry all or most of its weight through the belly area. The legs and arms of the Apple are generally fairly slender without much extra weight. Even though this body type is at the greatest health risk due to excess visceral fat, (the belly fat that’s deep inside the midsection) it’s easy to get rid of.
Common cravings: Starchy or sugary foods, diet sodas, caffeine.
Response to a poor diet: Lacks energy and experiences cravings, particularly around midmorning or after lunch.
Hormone to watch out for: Insulin. The key to losing weight for the Apple is getting his or her blood sugar levels under control.
What to eat: Start with a foundation of clean proteins (chicken, lean beef, pork, fish) and supplement with healthy fats (eggs, avocado, nuts, seeds, nut butter, coconut oil, olive oil, full-fat cheeses). Also include plenty of leafy greens (spinach, kale, romaine).
Limit: Starchy carbs to one meal a day and low glycemic index fruits (berries).
Eliminate: Coffee or caffeinated beverages as they can throw off cortisol and insulin. Sugary refined carbohydrates, like sports drinks, store bought energy bars or sweetened yogurts.
This body type tends to gain weight through the hips and thighs, often with a small lower abdominal “pooch” (this is subcutaneous fat, not to be confused with visceral fat). This body type appears to have a significantly smaller upper body, with little excess weight through the arms and chest.
The Pear may run into a little frustration when it comes to weight loss as the subcutaneous fat through the hips and thighs is difficult to mobilize. In fact, the Pear may notice other parts of her body losing weight before the target area. It’s highly likely that this body type is dealing with estrogen dominance. By eating foods that help flush out estrogen while eliminating the foods that mimic estrogen leading to an excessive amount, this body type will lose weight.
Common cravings: High-fat dairy, lattes, rich desserts.
Response to a poor diet: Will experience unusual hunger either in between meals or at the end of the evening, after dinner.
Hormone to watch out for: Estrogen. Even though estrogen, as a group of hormones, isn’t necessarily bad, an imbalance of too much estrogen to other hormones, particularly progesterone, can promote lower body weight gain.
What to eat: Start with a foundation of high-fiber vegetables and fruits, supplement with healthy amount of oats, quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice. Also include small amounts of lean protein and clean, non-dairy fats.
Eliminate: High-fat dairy (cheese, cream), non-organic produce and meats (that contain pesticides or hormones), caffeine, alcohol, unfermented soy (tofu).
This body type tends to have broader shoulders that taper down toward the waist and hips. They usually carry quite a bit of muscle mass in the upper body, but are prone to storing extra fat through the chest, back of the arms and above the bra line.
Common cravings: Salty, fatty and fast foods; alcohol.
Response to a poor diet: Has a decent amount of energy early in the day, loses steam in the evening and succumbs to cravings.
Hormone to watch out for: Cortisol. Released through the adrenal glands, found on top of the kidneys. Constantly elevated cortisol levels, released through the adrenal glands, can have a cascading effect on other hormones that perpetuate weight gain, particularly insulin.
What to eat: Start with a foundation of complex carbohydrates (oats, brown rice, buckwheat) and supplement with low-fat dairy and lots of fresh vegetable juices, leafy greens and high-fiber fruits.
Eliminate: Heavy meats, heavy cheese, salty snacks, protein bars, caffeinated beverages.
This body type typically gains weight evenly throughout his or her body, often most noticeable in the face, but also through the arms, chest, knees and ankles. This body type has a soft, round look.
Common cravings: Dairy, sugary carbohydrates.
Response to a poor diet: Water retention and congestion.
Hormone to watch out for: Master regulator of all hormones, the pituitary gland, which can have an effect on cortisol, insulin and thyroid, among others.
What to eat: Start with a foundation of raw vegetables and fruits, supplement with whole grain cereals (oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat). Include a daily serving of lean protein and plenty of spices.
Limit: High-fat meats; refined and processed carbohydrates.
Eliminate: Caffeinated beverages, dairy, refined carbohydrates, sweets.
If you want more information on your specific body type and some proper guidance concerning the appropriate diet and how to incorporate it to your lifestyle, please contact us for an in-depth customized nutritional response assessment at our office, Absolutely Divine Wellness, call 321-482-0345 or make an appointment on our website.