Do Body Types Exist?
There are various streams of thought about body types depending on where you look, who you listen to, or what you read. Some of these are based on very old teachings that have been around for thousands of years, but most are relatively new ways of looking at the differences and similarities in human bodies.
The varying discussions around body types use different names for their defined types, but when you actually start digging into the details, you soon realise that they have many similarities, and in fact they’re often describing much the same traits within one type.
Let me explain…
How Many Body Types Are There?
If you ask your personal trainer or the body builder down at the gym about body types, they will very likely tell you there are three body types and everyone is actually a combination of all three. However most people will be predominantly one type.
These body types are:
These are the long skinny people. They don’t gain weight easily and that includes fat or muscle. They have long fingers and toes, long necks, flat chests and little shape.
Extreme Ectomorphs tend to be fragile and delicate. Their joints are small, they tend to be pale and burn easily, and they tend to lack physical strength.
These are those people who have a naturally muscular physique. Even when they live on McDonalds, donuts and coke, and lie on the couch all day watching Netflix, they (maddeningly) still look good.
When these people actually do work out and look after themselves, they get awesome and very easy results! A little work goes a long way for them. (Which is also maddening… 👿 )
The Endomorph is round and soft. They gain fat easily and have to really work really hard to get any result. Exercise is essential for the Endomorph just to maintain some sort of balance, and even though they are strong and can gain muscle, the difficult part is getting that muscle to show as their body naturally tends to hang on to that layer of fat that often causes those amazing muscles to remain a well kept secret.
But What Are The 4 Body Types?
Hang on… So now there are four body types? Yep. I told you, it depends on what you read or listen to.
There is actually a system of four body types that generally refers only to women, and describes not only the physical differences in appearance, but attributes their differences to their hormonal tendencies along with the foods that they are likely to overindulge in, which are the foods that will then cause them health issues. I’m not sure who came up with this but it goes something like this:
The Gynaeoid body type refers to those women who put all their weight on from the waist down. They can have small shoulders, small boobs and small waists and then big butts and thighs, and the more weight they put on the bigger the butt and thighs get whilst the rest of the body can remain virtually unaffected (unless a lot of weight goes on). The Gynaeoid body type craves fat and sugar laden foods.
The Android body type is those with that muscular athletic build. They build muscle easily, and stay muscular looking even with little or no exercise. They tend to have broad shoulders and no waist, small hips and they crave foods with cholesterol and salt. The cholesterol in their bodies becomes steroidal hormones that have a body building effect. They tend to make more male hormone and if they do gain weight, and excess weight is all on their belly and upper body.
The Thyroid body type refers to those long skinny gals. They have long slim limbs, don’t gain weight easily if at all, and are light and fragile. They tend to crave stimulants – caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and sugar and have a tendency to skip meals.
The Lymphatic body type have that baby doll look. Round and smooth, they gain weight easily and it goes on all over. They have a dysfunctional lymphatic system which causes problems with fluid retention and they crave dairy products that will cause them more weight gain, puffiness and fluid retention. They tend to avoid exercise, but they really need it to remain healthy and at a reasonable weight.
So, are we seeing a pattern here yet?
What Are The Different Body Types In Ayurveda?
So now let’s have a look at Ayurveda. This is the traditional Indian form of medicine that has been around longer than any other form of medicine. As a system of medicine Ayurveda, which means ‘The Science Of Life’, is over 5000 years old.
Within Ayurveda there are three body types. I am only giving a very brief rundown in this post, but the description in Ayurveda of the characteristics of each body type is very detailed in both the physical characteristics as well as in personality and emotion. Here are some of the basics:
The Pitta body type’s main characteristic is that they tend to be hot. They may have red skin or hair, and signs of heat in the body. Pitta symptoms are those that include heat such as running a fever, hot flushes and the like.
The physical characteristics of Pitta body types are that they tend to have a medium build, are strong and well built. They have a strong metabolism, become irritated easily and perspire a lot.
The Vata body type is airy, flighty and nervous. These are thin people with prominent joints and little muscle. They are light and slender. They tend toward a variable appetite and irregular daily routine. They perspire little and they tend to have cold hands and feet.
The Kapha body type is solid, heavy, easy going and relaxed. Slow paced and stable. Physically, Kapha people are strong with a sturdy, heavy build. They have soft hair and skin, large soft eyes and a quiet voice. They have a tendency to gain weight easily and to retain fluid. They have an aversion to damp and cold.
So Again, How Many Body Types Are There??
There are many systems or schools of thought that contain ‘body types’ as a way to explain the differences in the ways our bodies work, as well as potential predispositions to health, behavior and personality.
This is a brief rundown of three different body type theories, but there are more. Chinese medicine has nine body types, or ‘constitutions’ as they call them and there are no doubt other thoughts on the subject.
But within the three that I’ve shared above I have to ask, do you see the resemblance in them? It’s interesting. Same information, just varied and renamed. However the understanding of body types by ancient knowledge such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine is much more complex and complete.
It’s fascinating to look at the different types and figure out what you are and how relevant they are to your experience. For me, I’m an Endomorph, Lymphatic, Kapha body type! 😀
I gain weight easily and exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. Even though I know that I must do it, I’d much rather be sitting around with my head in a book. I retain fluid – especially when I’m not treating my body as well as I know I should and although I love blue skies and sunshine, I really dislike hot, humid, damp weather.
What about you? Leave a comment and let me know what you come up with.
P.S. If you want to learn more about body types or even the best diet for your body type, there are tons of books over at Amazon on the subject with great reviews.