Ectomorph is a body type that is described as tall and slim, with narrow shoulders and a low muscle mass percentage.
In general, people with an ectomorph body type have a fast metabolism and tend to lose weight easily. However, they do have more difficulty building muscle.
Therefore, ectomorph body types are advised to increase their calorie and protein intake, and to consume foods that contain healthy fats. You should also incorporate vegetables, fruits and whole grains into your diets. All of these food sources will help with weight gain and muscle-building.
People with an ectomorph body type generally have the following physical characteristics:
- Leaner body
- Slightly taller than average
- Less body fat percentage
- Women will typically have narrower hips and smaller breasts
People with an ectomorph body type usually have a faster metabolism, and therefore lose weight easily. However, they have more difficulty with putting on muscle. Learn more about the different body types to see how they differ from each other.
Ectomorph body types should consume about 1.6 g of protein for every kilogram (or for every 2.2 lb) of body weight. To put on muscle, they should consume 300 to 500 additional calories per day. See the different high protein foods you can incorporate into your daily diet.
In order to increase calorie and protein intake, you should eat 6 meals per day with a maximum of 3 hours between each meal. Ensure you are eating a balanced diet with healthy fats (like olive oil and chestnuts), lean proteins (like fish, tofu or chicken), fruits and vegetables (like cassava or sweet potatoes), and whole grains (like whole wheat rices and pastas).
The following table shows a sample 3-day diet plan for people with an ectomorph body type:
1 cup of coffee without sugar + 2 scrambled eggs + 1 whole wheat french bun + 1 medium pear
1 cup of 2% milk with 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder without sugar + 1 tapioca crepe (made with 4 tablespoons of tapioca powder, 1 tablespoon of chia and 2 medium slices of goat cheese) + 4 strawberries
1 cup of almond milk + 1 whole wheat french bun + 2 medium slices of ricotta cheese seasoned with oregano and a splash of olive oil + 1 kiwi
2 tablespoons of peanuts + 1 banana with 1 1 tablespoon of rolled oats
½ a papaya with 1 tablespoon of rolled oats + 2 brazilian nuts
1/2 a small avocado seasoned with 1/2 a diced tomato, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt + 2 corn tortillas or rice cakes
4 tablespoons of whole wheat rice + 1 small ladle of beans + 1 side plate of boiled broccoli, 1 diced tomato and boiled cauliflower + 1 tablespoon of whole wheat rice + 1 serving of grilled fish + 10 grapes
1 side plate of whole wheat pasta with homemade tomato sauce + 1 side plate of stir-fried green beans, carrots and eggplant + 120g of grilled beef + 2 slices of pineapple
4 tablespoons of boiled quinoa + 1 grilled chicken breast (without skin) + 1 side plate of roasted cabbage, onion, garlic and tomato + 2 tablespoons of soybean salad + 1 small mango
200g of no-fat natural yogurt + 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds + 1 tablespoon of honey
Smoothie: 150ml of 2% milk or milk alternative (coconut, almond or rice), 1 tablespoon of rolled oats and 1 small apple + 1 handful of peanuts
1 medium banana with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
Mashed potatoes (made with 2 potatoes) + 2 chicken legs marinated in 3 tablespoons of okra + 1 side plate of salad (prepared with lettuce, arugula) seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium sweet potato roasted in slices + 1 serving of baked salmon + 2 tablespoons of boiled chayote + 1 side plate of salad (prepared with cabbage and sliced carrots) seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 side plate of whole wheat pasta with homemade tomato sauce + 3 meatballs + 1 side plate of boiled squash, eggplant and carrots, seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup of chamomile tea + 1 medium slice of melon
1 cup of lemongrass tea + 1 tangerine
1 cup of lemongrass tea + 1 orange
This plan is merely an example. The quantities of food presented can vary depending on gender, age, weight and individual health status. Therefore, it is best to consult a registered dietitian to develop a diet plan that is personalized to you and your goals.
It's important to note that factors like healthy sleep habits, regular physical activity and adequate hydration (e.g. 1.5L or about 6 cups of water per day) also play a role in gaining muscle.
Supplements for gaining muscle mass
Some supplements like whey protein, BCAA or casein help with putting on muscle, and therefore can be indicated for people with an ectomorph body type. Understand the different types of supplements for muscle growth available.
However, high supplement intake can cause kidney injury, and therefore supplement use should only be directed by a nutritionist or dietitian.
To gain muscle mass in a healthy way, people with an ectomorph body type should avoid eating food that could delay their health goals. These foods include:
- Foods with high sugar content, like candy, ice cream, cookies or cake
- Processed foods, like ready-made sauces, fast food, or instant noodles
- Refined grains, like white bread, white pasta or white rice
- Foods with high fat content, like fried fat content, pizza, chips, bacon or salami
- Cured meat and sausages, like salami, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, prosciutto or mortadella
It is important to avoid consumption of alcoholic drinks (like beer or wine) as alcohol is high in calories and will lead to fat gain. Alcohol can also decrease circulating testosterone levels, a hormone that is important for muscle gain. High carb foods should also be eaten in moderation.