A Guide to Body Type
It’s that time again — the water is beckoning and a beach body is in high demand. How to get one, however, is more about body type than quick tricks.
Looking good — and feeling good — is not about starving yourself or reaching a new low on the scale, which are both dangerous strategies. A balanced diet, positive mindset and consistent, enjoyable workout routine can keep your body healthy and in prime shape whether you’re in a swimsuit or a sweater. Even so, personal preference sometimes calls for a tune-up, or a tone-up, before we bare it on the beach.
Know your strengths and struggles for your best body.
A larger lower body and smaller upper body characterize pear-shaped bodies, sometimes called triangle types. People with pear shapes tend to carry weight in their hips, thighs and butt.
Strengths: Research suggests that passive, pear-zone fat, while not fully understood, has a protective effect against heart disease and diabetes, reducing insulin resistance and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol.
Struggles: Losing weight is hard for pear shapes because the body burns fat around the middle first. Good for risk reduction, bad for dropping pounds.
Nutrition Tip: Keep an eye on fat intake — your body is more likely to store fat and burn carbs.
Workout: Aerobic exercises like running or biking that work your lower body can slim hips and thighs.
A slim lower body and a thicker middle is known as an apple shape.
Strengths: Belly fat breaks down faster than other fat, meaning apples may find it easier to lose weight.
Struggles: Risk of heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer all increase when belly fat raises blood sugar levels. Inflammation, chronic disease and weight gain are also risks.
Nutrition Tip: Carbohydrates can raise insulin levels. People with an apple body type, particularly those with high blood sugar, should choose healthy fats over carbs.
Workout: Cardio-heavy exercise will rev up metabolism and increase calorie burn.
If there’s no real difference in the size of your hips, waist and shoulders, you may be a chili pepper body type.
Strengths: Narrow body types are less likely to gain weight than other shapes.
Struggles: When chili peppers do gain weight, it’s typically around the middle, which increases their risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Nutrition Tip: Remember to eat healthy even if weight isn’t an issue. Healthy fats will reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.
Workout: Strength-training builds muscles, which can help create curves and definition.
Interested in hearing more from Northwestern Medicine? Sign up for the Healthy Tips E‑Newsletter for everything from health and wellness ideas to patient breakthroughs to academic and medical advancements.