Introduction to Body Type Diets
So, you’ve finally discovered that your weight has everything to do with your body type. If not, you heard it here first. Your problem is not your weight. It is your metabolism, your hormones, and how healthfully your body is functioning in accordance with your body type. The age old adage “you are what you eat” is an absolute truism, and your health is absolutely determined by whether you are eating the most appropriate foods for you. Each body type needs different foods, has a different energy pattern, and puts on weight in different places as a result of different determinants. Genuine weight loss and genuine, lasting health come from considering how your body interacts with the foods and beverages you consume.
What follows is a general discussion about (or introduction to) the most prevalent body type/body shape theories circulating these days. There’s a wealth of information about each of them on the individual proponent website, so by all means make a visit. Each provides scientific explanation, along with suggested nutrition plans and exercise programs. We’re certain your journey will bring you right back to where you are now, the 25 Body Type System — the most thoroughly researched and comprehensive of all.
Prevailing body type theories are based on:
- your body shape
- your blood type
- your dominant gland or organ, or
- your dosha
Dr. William Sheldon’s Somatype Body Shapes
We’ll start with the hypothesis developed by William Herbert Sheldon, MD, PhD, during the 1940s and augmented by others throughout the 1970s. Dr. Sheldon introduced the theory of somatypes, describing three basic human body shapes: the endomorph, characterized by a heavier build with short limbs and large joints, wide hips and shoulders; the mesomorph, marked by a well-developed musculature — powerful frame, medium build, medium joints, large bones, with broad shoulders wider than the hips (slightly wider for women and much wider for men); and the ectomorph, distinguished by long, thin limbs, small joints, light build, small waist and narrow shoulders.
Dr. Sheldon maintained that your body type is a genetic blueprint and will always remain the same, even when you change the ratio of body fat over muscle mass with the “right” nutrition and workouts. He further surmised that most people are a mixture of these types. If you are somewhere in between two body types, his recommendation would be a middle approach, with a goal toward looking as close as possible to one of the three body types which, with the “right” exercise and diet, could be accomplished. The picture below gives you an idea of the way each body type looks. The four body shapes, Banana, Apple, Pear, Hourglass, are an updated version of Sheldon's three female body types. Men have a rectangular or cone shape.
Dr. Elliot Abravanel’s Body Type Diet
In 1985 Elliot D. Abravanel, MD, and Elizabeth King Morrison co-authored Dr. Abravanel's Body Type Diet and Lifetime Nutrition Plan wherein body type was determined to be a matter of metabolism. Your body shape signals the type of metabolism you have based on which of four major glands is strongest in your metabolic system. Depending upon which of these endocrine glands dominates, women can be a Thyroid, Adrenal, Gonadal, or Pituitary type. Men have only three body types because the Adrenal and Gonadal types are combined. The gonads, also called the sex glands, are the ovaries in women and the testes in men. Each type puts on weight in different places, has a different energy pattern, and requires different foods for optimum performance.
Abravanel's Thyroid Body Type is dominated by the thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck. Basic body shape is long-limbed, fine-boned, high waist, with an oval or long face. Weight gain spots are between the shoulders and knees, including thighs, upper hips, and round waist.
Abravanel's Adrenal Body Type is dominated by the adrenal glands, located atop each kidney. Basic body shape is strong-looking, bigger above the waist than below, large breasts, slim hips. Weight gain spots are mostly above the waist in the upper back, breasts, and stomach, with hips and legs remaining shapely.
Abravanel's Gonadal Body Type is dominated by the sex glands (ovaries), located in the pelvic cavity. Basic body shape is pear, with curvy rear and slender upper body. Weight gain spots are mostly on the rear, to a lesser extent the hips and outer thighs.
Abravanel's Pituitary Body Type is dominated by the pituitary gland, located deep within the head. Basic body shape is youthful-looking, with a small-boned body and a head that is somewhat large for body size. Weight gain is all over, not in any one defined spot. Weight may even accumulate on the knees.
Dr. Eric Berg’s Body Types
Other dominant gland/organ theories include Adrenal, Thyroid, Ovary, and Liver promulgated by Chiropractor Eric Berg, author of The 7 Principles of Fat Burning. Dr. Berg explains his hormone driven body types program and how metabolism is influenced by six fat burning hormones. Patients are guided as to what to eat based on the foods that will enhance fat burning instead of fat storing. For example, Dr. Berg explains that the adrenal glands sit on the kidneys and deal with stress. When too much stress builds up, your fight-or-flight response kicks in, triggering the hormone cortisol to build up fat around your most vital organs—which are located in your midsection.
Constant stress leads to poor sleep patterns, causing worry, excessive thinking, brain fog, poor memory, and weight gain. Most growth hormone is released at night, and this hormone regulates fat burn. Trying to lose weight can actually cause you to add pounds since conventional diet programs that call for drastically cutting calories and overtraining with exhaustive workouts only further stress your body. This is why hundreds of sit-ups every day will never give someone with the adrenal shape that flat stomach they desire. Over time, as adrenal fatigue continues, tolerance to stress dives even lower and patience with others wears thin. These types tend to be edgy and irritable, and oftentimes, others get on their nerves.
Dr. Sandra Cabot’s Body Shapes
In her book The Body Shaping Diet, Dr. Sandra Cabot discusses four distinct body types, each with unique hormonal and metabolic characteristics: Android, Thyroid, Gynaeoid, and Lymphatic.
“Years ago it was recognized that there were different body types and they were categorized according to their shape only. This was before we understood the hormonal and metabolic differences between the body types.”
Android was called the mesomorph, Thyroid was called the ectomorph, Lymphatic was called the endomorph. Gynaeoid body type was not described, probably being considered a combination of several types.
Dr. Cabot describes how these body types are susceptible to cellulite. Android types tend to crave foods that are high in cholesterol and salt. The body turns cholesterol into steroid hormones, which will have a body building effect. This may lead to some cellulite in the abdominal area, trunk and upper buttocks, but not below the hips. The Gynaeoid body type often craves foods combining high amounts of fat and sugar, which will increase their sensitivity to estrogen, leading to more cellulite in the buttocks and thighs. Lymphatic body types gain weight all over the body, and have a cuddly baby doll appearance. They often avoid exercise and crave dairy products, both of which will exacerbate their cellulite. Generally speaking, thyroid types do not gain weight easily and have a very high metabolic rate. Of all the body types they are least likely to develop cellulite and if it does occur, it is on the buttocks and back of the thighs.
Peter D’Adamo’s Blood Body Types
In his book Eat Right 4 Your Type, naturopath Peter J. D'Adamo, N.D., espouses blood type as:
"the key that unlocks the door to the mysteries of health, disease, longevity, physical vitality, and emotional strength."
Dr. D'Adamo explains that the practical application of the blood type "key" is the enabling of informed choices about your dietary, exercise, supplement, and even medical treatment plans. With the blood type road map, these plans can correspond to your exact biological profile and the dynamic natural forces within your own body.
“There had to be a reason why there were so many paradoxes in dietary studies and disease survival, why some people lose weight and others do not on the same diet or why some people keep their vitality as they age, and others do not.”
Dr. D'Adamo’s clinical testing evidenced the biochemical uniqueness of each individual and the need to tailor treatments and prescriptions to match that individual variability. His research into anthropology and genetics led him to conclude that the four blood types require four diets: Blood Type O thrives on a lean, high protein and low dairy products and grains plan; Blood Type A thrives on primarily vegetarian foods that are fresh, pure, and organic. Type A's are predisposed to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Blood Type B thrives on a mixed diet of meat, fish and dairy, has a strong immune system and a tolerant digestive system which tends to resist many of the severe chronic degenerative illnesses, or at least survive them better than the other blood types. Type AB Blood, the most recent of the four groups in terms of evolution, is an amalgam of types A and B, the most biologically complex, thriving on a modified vegetarian diet. Dr. D'Adamo has produced cookbooks for each of the four blood types.
“While you cannot change your blood type, you can use knowledge about its nature to implement a dietary plan biologically suited to your makeup.”
Ayurvedic Body Types or Doshas
Most of us have heard of the holistic theory of Ayurveda which began approximately 5,000 - 6,000 years ago when Indian monks were looking for new ways to be healthy. The monks believed that revering their bodies as temples and guarding their health would heighten meditation and spiritual development. Over thousands of years of observations, they gathered all their conclusions and advice and preserved it for future generations. This collection of knowledge came to be known as “the science or knowledge of life."
According to Ayurveda, each of us has a unique mix of three mind and body principles which creates our specific mental and physical characteristics. These three principles are called doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Most of us have one or two doshas which are dominant in our nature, with the remaining one(s) less expressed. These doshas are biological energies which derive from the Five Elements and their related properties. Each performs different physiological functions in the body: Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water. The doshas provide every living being with a blueprint for health and fulfillment.
As reflections of the qualities of nature, these body types give insight into the tendencies of our bodies, as well as our mental, emotional, and behavioral characteristics. According to Ayurvedic medicine, prevention is dictated by the unique requirements of your body type — what you eat, how you exercise, when you sleep, and even where you prefer to live will be different from one person to the next. Therefore, the best and most healthful practices for each individual can be better understood by knowing one’s body type.
Vata governs movement in the body, the activities of the nervous system and the process of elimination. Vata influences the other doshas. If Vata predominates, movement and change are characteristic of your nature. You will tend to always be on the go, with an energetic and creative mind. As long as Vata is in balance, you will be lively and enthusiastic, with a lean body. Pitta energy controls the body's metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body's temperature. In balance, Pitta leads to contentment and intelligence. Out of balance can cause ulcers and anger. Kapha energy controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system. In balance, Kapha is expressed as love and forgiveness; out of balance leads to insecurity and envy.
Dr. Carolyn Mein’s 25 Body Type Diet
“All of these theories make for great diagnostic tools,” explains Carolyn Mein, DC, who has extensively examined each, “but they leave numerous grey areas.”
Dr. Mein, author of Different Bodies, Different Diets, has discerned 25 body types with unique dietary and nutritional needs, energy patterns, exercise requirements, and personality characteristics. Your distinguishable and distinctive body type positively determines the most appropriate lifestyle for getting and staying healthy and at peak performance through the instinctive ways nature intended.
The 25 Body Type SystemTM considers the critical components of how our glands and organs interact, incorporates and expands upon other systems, and answers all of our questions down to “What do I eat for breakfast?” You will be surprised, incredibly enlightened, and actually relieved once you discover whether you are an Adrenal, a Balanced, Blood, Brain, Eye, Gallbladder, Gonadal, Heart, Hypothalamus, Intestinal, Kidney, Liver, Lung, Lymph, Medulla, Pancreas, Nervous System, Pineal, Pituitary, Skin, Spleen, Stomach, Thalamus, Thymus or Thyroid body type.
Imagine the benefits of knowing your specific body type and shape and the innate personality traits that impact your relationships. For example, Brain body types are noted for gathering information in detail — they like to have all possible knowledge on a subject before making a decision. Gallbladder body types are dependable, known for being helpful, loyal and consistent. A Kidney body type tends to procrastinate, achieving excellence when under the pressure of deadlines. Stomach body types have strong physical stamina, passion, and intense mental focus which enable them to accomplish their goals. Any of these sound like you?
If you don't know your specific body type in order to match it with its respective gland or organ dominance, you are always going to struggle to eliminate disease and achieve optimum physical and mental health. You are always going to be frustrated by your body’s resistance to burning fat, a sluggish metabolism, lack of energy and frequent mood swings. The various body type theories point you in the right direction. The 25 Body Type SystemTM pinpoints it. You can rebalance your metabolism, restore your energy, and revive fat burning naturally to look and feel your best. It is easily within your power to create your health every day.