Ectomorph Diet Plan: Skinny to Muscles By Dietician

Updated on  February 26, 2023
William Toro

Published By:  William Toro

Fact Checked by: Bridget MacDonald, RDN

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People tend to be of different sizes and shapes, which is a common occurrence but did you know that the human body is categorized into three body types based on your physical features? William Herbert Sheldon (1) categorized the human body into these types based on its external form, collectively known as "somatotype." 

Somatotype is classified into three body types depending on muscle mass and body fat. This includes:

  • ectomorph

  • mesomorph

  • and endomorph

 If you want to learn more about these body types, read on below to learn all about them.

Different Body Types

As mentioned above, our body is classified into three types (2), and each of these types is different from the other. Somatotypes or body types are hereditary traits based on your body composition (fat mass and muscles) and your skeletal frame (density of bones and their structure). Together, these two form your body type, and understanding your type allows you to reach your fitness goals more quickly. 

In this article, we will focus mainly on the Ectomorph body type, but it is a good idea that you are aware of the other two body types as well:

Three Body Types



Ectomorph bodies are usually skinny, lean, and tall. Ectomorph individuals tend to have a rounder bone structure, stocky limbs, wide hips, and shoulders that are thin and have little width.



Endomorph bodies have a shorter build with thicker legs and arms. Endomorphs tend to gain weight quickly (4) and are blessed with naturally strong legs, making it easier to perform leg exercises. 



Mesomorph body structures consist of large bones with an athletic physique (3). This body type is perfect for bodybuilding, and it is easier to lose and gain weight with this body type. Mesomorphs have an incredible physique with muscles and can stay fit naturally.

What Exactly Is An Ectomorph Body Type?

While the above information gives some insight into the Ectomorph body type, let us make it more straightforward for you. If you can eat a pizza for dinner and have no ill effects on your body or tummy, you are an Ectomorph. Ectomorphs have a higher tendency to handle carbohydrates, but they do not have adequate muscle mass, so they need to increase their protein intake. 

Moreover, they need to mix it with a strength training plan to achieve better results. In general, ectomorphs have a fast metabolism system and lose weight more quickly. However, since they struggle with building muscles, it is recommended that they increase their calorie intake and rely on an ectomorph diet. 

An ectomorph diet consists of specific food products for muscle building and growth, such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, lean steak, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and grilled chicken. 

Ectomorphs also need to follow a different exercise plan to build muscles and muscle mass which is known as an ectomorph workout. It includes compound exercises and more. Keep reading to learn more about the Ectomorph diet and Ectomorph workout. 

Food List For An Ectomorph Body 

An Ectomorph's diet contains plenty of carbohydrates since they respond well to it and can eat that freely. However, it is better to go for other healthier options to optimize your health. 


  • A single serving of low-fat or fat-free milk or greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

Meat And Fish

  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Lean chicken or grilled chicken
  • White Fish such as mahi-Mahi or cod
  • Seafood such as scallops and shrimps
  • Lean steak or lean beef

Starchy Veggies And Whole Grains

  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Sweet potato
  • Brown rice
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Steel-cut oats 

Fruits And Vegetables

  • Mango
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Green beans
  • Squash
  • Brussel sprouts

Seeds And Nuts

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pistachios
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts 

How Macronutrients Affect An Ectomorph Diet

Now that you are aware of what you need to eat and what items your ectomorph diet can consist of, let's discuss the role of macronutrients in your diet. There are three main macronutrients (5):

  • proteins
  • fats
  • carbohydrates

The best diet plan consists of all these nutrients in adequate amounts.


As we grow up, we are constantly told how carbohydrates are bad for us and how we should stay far away from them. The reality, however, is very different from this notion; instead, if you responsibly consume carbs, they can become your best friends. Carbohydrates are ideal for fueling your body and providing your muscles with the energy they need after a heavy workout session. 

It is no secret that ectomorphs have difficulty gaining weight through muscle growth. Therefore, they need to grab any opportunity that comes their way to ease this process and make workout recovery easier. 

Due to this reason, it is advised that an ectomorph diet contains complex carbohydrates and relies on quick-absorbing carbohydrate drinks to enhance recovery. With complex carbs, your muscles can immediately work on regeneration and break the carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose is the primary energy for the muscles and helps recover your muscles faster. 

Some complex carbs recommended in an ectomorph diet include brown pasta or rice, tams, whole-wheat bagels, white bread, and sweet potatoes. Moreover, a diet rich in complex carbohydrates and slow-absorbing carbs is also great for muscle gain and assists you in effectively reaching your fitness goals. 


Fats are another macronutrient that people are scared of, but this plays a massive role in your body. An ectomorph diet must contain fat as an essential macronutrient as it supports your hair and skin and, at the same time, lubricates cells in your body. But that's not all! Fat is great for this specific body type since it works to regulate testosterone levels, supporting muscle growth. 

One thing you need to keep in mind before running to a fast-food restaurant to get fats in your body is to understand the difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats are foods that are rich in saturated fats, and they should be avoided because they can lead to a higher risk of heart diseases and an increase in cholesterol levels. 

On the other hand, unsaturated fats are healthy fats, and they contain Omega 9, 6, and 3, which are great for your body. 

A single gram of fat contains 9 calories (6), and this helps ectomorphs get more calories in a single portion. Some excellent fat sources include flaxseed oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and almonds. 


If your goal is to gain weight and you struggle to build muscle, you must not overlook protein sources. Proteins are an essential macronutrient in a diet plan and are the essential building blocks in your body. Moreover, proteins are a significant component for gaining mass and helping build muscle.

When you are in your bulking phase, you must ask yourself how many calories you should take, so let us answer that. Your entire protein intake must be 25% of your total calorie intake, with a preference for lean chicken and lean meat. This will reduce unnecessary fat consumption and help you gain muscle mass more healthily. 

Keep in mind that you will gain weight if you are eating with a calorie surplus. Simply relying on protein powder will not help. Instead, you can rely on different meats, fish, poultry, seafood, and dairy to get enough protein in your body. Furthermore, you can add almond milk to your protein shakes to get extra carbs to create the perfect diet. 

In supplements you can also look at best weight gainers for women.

Exercises To Follow If You Have An Ectomorph Body

Apart from following a proper Ectomorph diet, you must also perform exercises to build muscles. Since an ectomorph struggles with weight gain and gaining more mass, relying on weight training, shoulder press, and bench press can help you out.

Alternatively you can also follow beginners workout plan which is well customise for any beginner for a month. 

Some exercises you can follow as an ectomorph include the following:

Weight Training

Following a weight-training routine is essential for an ectomorph body to build muscle, sculpt the body, and increase strength. Your primary focus should be on using heavy weights and completing a minimum of three and a maximum of five sets of each exercise with eight to twelve repetitions for each muscle group. It is also good to take help from a professional if you are doing weight training for the first time since this will help you avoid any injury or muscle pull.

Bench Press

The bench press is a great way to gain muscle mass, but there are a few different ways to do this exercise. You can either do it with a narrow grip or a close grip, or even a wide grip, depending on which area you are targeting. As an ectomorph, you must focus mainly on your chest and involve other muscles depending on your grip stance. You must follow the correct technique to avoid problems in your shoulder.

Shoulder Press 

Getting a wide shoulder (7) look will help you appear more bulky and strong, which is why shoulder press is an excellent exercise for an ectomorph. When it comes to shoulder press, you can opt for a barbell shoulder press or dumbbell shoulder press, depending on your preference. While many people confuse these two shoulder press exercises together, let us help you figure out how these exercises are different.

Barbell Shoulder Press

This is an excellent shoulder exercise and helps engage your entire upper body, ideal for an Ectomorph. This exercise allows your triceps to work and also engages your core muscles. If you want to maximize gaining muscle, this exercise is perfect for you.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

On the other hand, the dumbbell shoulder press may seem similar to the barbell shoulder press, but this is not the case. The use of dumbbells allows you to carry out a more efficient shoulder workout, and it has a significant advantage over the use of barbells. This advantage is that dumbbells allow you to overuse both sides of your body equally, whereas, with a barbell, you may overuse one side of the body more than the other side. 

The reason behind this is that, when using a barbell, if you are left-sided, you will automatically lift the barbell on the left side more than the right one. On the other hand, dumbbells force you to lift an equal weight on both sides, making this exercise more difficult but better for ectomorphs. 


If your technique is correct, carrying out a deadlift is excellent for ectomorphs. This exercise helps in providing you with lower back strength and improving your overall posture. It also works your back muscles, hamstrings, and glutes, which makes it a great exercise to deal with long limbs. 


Pull-up is another exercise that targets your back muscles and arms and is great for an ectomorph. This exercise helps in improving your overall posture and also trains your posterior chain muscles. 

How To Gain Weight When Relying On An Ectomorph Diet?

It would help to intake a calorie surplus to gain weight and fulfill your muscle-building requirement. However, there are some other tips and tricks that you must know for gaining weight with an Ectomorph diet. These include the following:

Whole Foods Must Be Consumed Consistently 

Whole foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits and fresh poultry, whole grains, fish, fresh meat, seafood, nuts, and beans must be consumed consistently. Whole foods have excellent health benefits (8) compared to processed foods, and it allows you to get a better fat to muscle ratio. Also, it can become difficult for an individual to be underweight or overweight with whole food consumption.  

Avoid Rushing With Your Food

Many people tend to rush when it comes to eating and prioritize other things more. As an ectomorph, consuming more calories can help build muscles, and this is only possible if you take your time eating. This simple practice of focusing on your food (9) allows you to know what you are eating and helps increase your eating pace. It also gives an added benefit of gratitude and appreciation of your meals which is a great habit.

Achieve Maximum Satisfaction

Many people tend to eat only when hungry, and they stop when they are completely satisfied. While this is a great rule to rely on, different body types have different requirements, and this applies to an ectomorph body type as well. 

As an ectomorph, your main aim is to gain weight and build muscle, so it is okay to break the satisfaction scale slightly. What this means is that if you eat more even after you are full, then this won't harm you; instead, this will be very advantageous for you, and you will be able to reach your desired goals more effectively. 

Some Quick Tips An Ectomorph Must Follow

Apart from the information mentioned above, there are some other tips that you need to keep in mind as an ectomorph. These tips include the following:

  • Focus On Your Sleep

Sleep will allow your body to enter into a recovery mode essential for your muscles to relax and build. Sleep also helps with growth hormones and is a great way to burn unhealthy fat.

  • Track Your Calories

 It would be best if you tracked your calories to gain weight effectively. Also, when tracking your calories, try to avoid low-calorie-density food since this will fill you up but won't let you gain a healthy weight.

  • Eat All Throughout The Day

A smart way to increase calorie intake is to rely on small snacks throughout the day. If you do not want to munch on snacks or junk food, then opting for shakes is a great option.

  • Slow Down

Ectomorphs are usually fidgety in nature and cannot sit still, so they may find it hard to put on weight. To avoid this issue, it is necessary for you to slow down.


With the information mentioned above, you will be able to learn about the three different Somatotypes (10) and a detailed description of Ectomorphs and their diet. If you have low body fat and body mass and cannot gain weight, then this article can help you out. As an Ectomorph, you may be skinny fat, so following a calorie surplus diet and performing exercises that lead to calorie burn will allow you to deal with your insecurities in no time! So what are you waiting for? Grab your gym tights and get to work today!

William Toro

William Toro ‧ CPT & Nutritionist

William is a certified personal trainer from NASM, he has also been a rehab physiologist for sports persons. He has more than 15 years of experience training people. And has featured in multiple publications like FoxNews, CNBC, Bustle, and other. 

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