We all know the basics: don't spoil your sweet tooth, up your fiber game, drink lots of water. But what you may not know is that the effect and efficacy of your dietary decisions can be influenced by your body shape.
That's right, those double chocolate fudge bars may do a lot more damage to you than to your neighbor. Why? Your body type doesn't just have visual implications; it affects (and reflects) how you respond to food and on a deeper level than your metabolic makeup. "Your metabolism and eating habits will determine your percentage of lean muscle mass and body fat," says Maria A. Bella, MS, RD, CDN and founder of Top Balance Nutrition. "Where body fat is located on the body can be a major determinant of insulin sensitivity and weight gain. So, it's super important to eat according to your body type to ensure that your metabolism is working at its best." It's an underrated factor when it comes to efficiently reaching your weight and health goals, so here's a much-needed look at the best weight loss tips based on your body type. See where you fit in below and then discover these 55 Best-Ever Ways to Boost Your Metabolism!
Are You An Apple Body?
People with an apple body shape tend to carry most of their weight around the belly area but have a slimmer lower body. "Abdominal fat—usually visceral fat—unfortunately causes many health risks such as an increased risk of heart disease, cancers, and diabetes because it's the type of fat that surrounds your organs," says Shirlee Rosen, RDN. "Abdominal fat is known to be detrimental, causing inflammation and insulin resistance, which can lead to metabolic syndrome." If you're tummy heavy, however, don't despair! Visceral fat, although very dangerous, is also metabolically active and easier to lose if an appropriate diet is followed. Kick things off and find out How to Lose Belly Fat in just a couple weeks.
Apples Can Benefit from a Low Glycemic Diet
Rosen explains that due to irregular insulin levels caused by abdominal fat, a low glycemic diet has been proven to be most beneficial for weight loss for an apple body shape because it will work to decrease inflammation and help burn fat. "Following a low-glycemic diet includes eating foods such as green vegetables, most fruits, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and bran cereals. Cut out foods such as white bread, pastas, rice, pastries, cookies, and candies." By following a low-glycemic diet, she says, you can stop your blood sugar from spiking, therefore controlling insulin levels and decreasing the risk of chronic diseases. Choose fiber-rich carbohydrates such as whole grain bread, oats, legumes, beans, and non-starchy vegetables.
Apples Should Consumes Carbs with Protein or Fat
When consuming the recommended carbohydrates high in fiber, it's important for apples to pair them with a protein or healthy fat to further control blood sugar levels. "Healthy fats, such as nuts and fish, are loaded with omega-3s, which have been shown to decrease inflammation," says Rosen. Eating more heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados is also essential because, according to Chelsey Amer, RD, they boost satiety and may help you eat less unhealthy foods and blast belly fat. Not sure what else counts as a healthy fat? Get the whole list with these 20 Healthy Fats to Make You Thin.
Snacking Is Important for Apples
Along with including lean protein or healthy fat with every meal, it's also imperative to snack on a regular basis if you want to combat midsection visceral fat. "Snacking will help prevent blood sugar spikes and help keep your hormones in balance, which can be an issue with excess abdominal fat," says Amer.
What Is A Pear-Shaped Body?
People with a pear body shape tend to carry most of their weight in the lower portions of their body, which is mostly subcutaneous fat. This is also known as fat that can be pinched. While love handles and muffin tops make most of us cringe, this kind of fat isn't surrounding our vital organs, meaning that it isn't as detrimental to our health as the fat you'll find in people with an apple shaped figure. On the flip side, this type of fat is harder to lose because it's stubborn and not as mobile as visceral fat. You can make the long process a little more fun by spiking your workout routines with some surprising, cool things to do like these 35 Fun Ways to Lose Weight!
What To Eat For A Pear-Shaped Body
"To shed their stubborn fat around their hips, pear-shaped individuals may benefit from a high fiber, lower fat diet with an adequate balance of lean protein because it's much easier to burn carbohydrates than it is fat," says Amer. She suggests including several servings of whole grains, like quinoa, brown rice, and whole grain bread, throughout the day.
Pears Should Avoid Unnecessary Hormones and Up Calcium
Some studies suggest that the pear shaped body may be due to increased estrogen levels, which is why Bella says that it's best to avoid non-organic and processed meats that may contain unnecessary hormones. "Conversely, calcium has been shown to influence the way our bodies store fat, making it helpful to load up on Icelandic or Greek yogurt and dark leafy greens." You'll want to also familiarize yourself with these 20 Best Calcium-Rich Foods That Aren't Dairy.
Pear Should Watch Alcohol
"Put away the alcoholic beverages, sodas, juices and smoothies and replace them with water," Rosen says. "By doing that, you are not only cutting back on calories but also providing your body with an essential nutrient it needs throughout the day." This is especially important because, as mentioned, the subcutaneous fat that pears have is hard to shed, making it critical they avoid excess calories.
What Is An Inverted Triangle Shaped Body?
Inverted triangle shaped bodies, also referred to as top heavy body types, tend to have broad shoulders and they're prone to storing fat on the upper half of their body.
What Inverted Triangle Shaped Bodies Should Eat
If you're broader up top, it's important to opt for complex versus simple carbohydrates. Translation: trade your white rice and potatoes for quinoa and oats. Fresh vegetables (particularly leafy greens) are also key, and you should eliminate high fat cheeses and processed foods—particularly the bloat-inducing, salty ones.
Inverted Triangle Shaped Bodies Should Load Up On Magnesium
"Magnesium is crucial for hundreds of bodily functions, which is why consuming this wonder mineral is associated with better blood sugar control," says Amer, who recommends it for all body types. "Be sure to include almonds and dark leafy greens like spinach and black beans in your diet daily." You can take some extra steps for your upper body troubles by also discovering these 17 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Back Fat.
What Is An Hourglass Body?
The hourglass figure tends to be the most desired body shape because those with this figure gain weight evenly throughout their body. When people with this type do gain weight, however, it's most noticeable on or around the face, arms, chest, knees, and ankles.
An Hourglass Shaped Body Diet
Hourglass figures should follow an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fresh produce (fruits and veggies) and whole grains (buckwheat bulgur, millet, quinoa…), healthy fats (avocados, salmon, nuts, seeds, olive oil…) and high quality lean protein (turkey, salmon, sole…), beans and lentils. Like all body types, hourglass shapes should limit processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and high-fat foods. "Hourglass bodies, like all bodies, can benefit from including more plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu and edamame in their diets because these potent protein sources are also high in fiber and many contain healthy fats we need to shed excess weight," says Amer. Our advice? Don't ruin things with these 20 Foods That Age You 20 Years!
What Is A Pencil-Shaped Body?
People with a straight-shaped body have similar measurements for their shoulders, waist, and hips—basically, no curves. Most skinny people tend to have this body type, and when they do gain weight, it's usually in the belly. As mentioned with apple shaped figures, this is problematic for health reasons (hence the term "skinny fat"), since it leaves them prone to heart disease and diabetes.
An Ideal Diet for Pencil People
"Pencils may be at a healthy BMI but still have a high body fat percentage," says Bella. "Eat every four hours and structure your meals based on a plating method: fill half of your plate with produce, one-fourth with a whole grain such as quinoa or millet and the rest with lean protein such as fish or skinless chicken." Bella adds that it's important to ensure that pencils are getting at least two to three servings of reduced fat dairy (we recommend organic 1%) per day and that they should aim for six colors of produce. This diet, which is rich in complex carbs, fresh produce, and healthy fats, is a great formula to follow because it will work to help decrease the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Tips For All Shapes
"Always fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables!" says Rosen. "Eat those first and then go for the lean protein and fiber-rich whole grains. This way, you will feel full off of the low-calorie, high fiber vegetables and won't overeat the higher calorie food choices. You will be less inclined to indulge in other foods." And don't forget that drinking water is imperative since many people confuse hunger with thirst. Rosen also suggests using smaller plates, always keeping healthy snacks handy (carrots and hummus, apples and almonds, plain Greek yogurt and cucumbers…), limiting your sugar and simple carbohydrates, and upping your intake in fiber-rich foods.
Workout Tips for Your Body Shape
While our shape may be mostly influenced by genetics and diet, fitness is a non-negligible part not only for overall tone but for health, too. "Physical activity is key for any body type. Moving more not only helps with weight loss, but boosts your overall health, reducing your risk of heart disease, helping control your blood sugar, and more!" exclaims Amer.
Any exercise is better than no exercise, but here's what to focus on for your body type:
•Apple-shaped people should focus on high-intensity interval training, which works to blast fat and torch calories while improving cardiovascular capabilities.
•Those with a pear shape should focus on a mix of strength training (focusing on the lower half) and cardio for all over fat burning.
•Hourglass should focus on full body moves.
•Pencil people need to work on building muscle, particularly in the ab area.
•Lastly, if you have an inverted triangle shape, focus on a mix of strength training (focusing on the upper half) and cardio for all over fat burning.
Get plenty of ideas with these 30 Most Effective 30-Second Workout Moves!