Body Types

Eat This, Not That: Farro

Farro Dos Toros

I recently went to Dos Toro for the first time and was offered farro as a substitute for rice. Being that the farro was brown and looked closer to a whole grain, I opted for the farro.

But What Exactly is Farro?

Farro is an ancient wheat grain. Contrary to popular belief, farro does not refer to one type of grain. Rather, it's Italian for "ancient wheat grain" and often used to describe three different grains.

The kind that's most commonly found in the US and Europe is emmer wheat. It's sold dry and prepared by cooking it in water until it's soft and chewy.

Before it's cooked it looks similar to wheat berries, but afterward it looks similar to barley. It's a small, light-brown grain with a noticeable outer layer of bran.

It can be eaten alone or as an ingredient in dishes like stews, salads and soups. It can also be mixed with fruit and cream and eaten in a similar style to granola or muesli.

Without further ado, here are the top health benefits of farro.

1. Farro is Rich in Fiber

One cup of farro contains 12 grams of fiber, so depending on your gender, you’ll be either a third or halfway to getting your daily allotment of fiber with a single cup of this super grain. That’s the fiber equivalent of eating four medium-sized bananas.

2. Farro Provides 28 grams of Protein

Protein is a macronutrient that’s considered to be the primary building block of the human body as it helps build muscle, tissue, and cells. While protein shouldn’t compose the majority of your daily nutrition intake, it’s true that it’s essential to good health. Eating foods packed with protein like farro will help you stay healthy, gain strength, and lose weight. One cup of farro provides 28 grams of protein, which is equivalent to a 3-ounce portion of sirloin steak.

3. Full of Antioxidants

Farro, like other whole grains, can be an important source of the antioxidants that protect you from harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals can cause cell damage that is thought to result in certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, stroke. If you’ve been trying to eat a few bars of dark chocolate a day or blending up some Goji berry smoothies, you now have another option for an antioxidant fix.

4. Low Calorie & Low Fat

Some varieties of farro are fat free – yes, you can get all those antioxidants, fibers, and proteins, without any fat grams. And if you’re counting calories, farro will be a go-to ingredient for you.

5. Farro is Loaded With Nutrients & Vitamins

Farro is an excellent source of nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins.

So next time you’re given the option, think about opting for the farro — a much healthier alternative to white rice or other refined grains.

Train for Your Body Type: Mesomorphs -- Part 4 of 4

Mesomorph Body Type

Mesomorph:  Muscular and well-built, with a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells

You have the body type that finds it easiest to add new muscle and you don’t tend to store much body fat. Mesomorphs tend to take their naturally athletic builds for granted, which can result in diluted workouts and poor diets. Keeping in peak physical condition is often tempered by a scattered approach to eating and training.

The key here is to make the most of your body shape. That means following a progressive plan that will make you stronger and more athletic by increasing your power without getting too bulky. To fuel your workouts, you’ll need plenty of whole grains.

Are You a Mesomorph?

If you are, you’ll know it from the jealous looks. Mesomorphs look well built without setting foot in a gym, and pack on muscle the instant they pick up a dumbbell. If this sounds like you, you’ve hit the genetic jackpot – but you can make the most of your DNA with some tactical workout tricks.

What Mesomorphs Might Be Doing Wrong

Mesomorphs often won’t train as hard as they can.  Mesomorphs should try timed workouts, to give them goals to aim for and raise their workout intensity.

What Mesomorphs Should Be Doing

Mesomorphs should train athletically.  Try sprints, box and vertical jumps or other plyometrics.  Mesomorphs respond well to low reps and power moves.  Alternatively, interval sprints will pump up their metabolism and strip away fat.

What to Eat

Although the usual caveats apply, the good news is that your body will respond well to whatever healthy food you put into it.  A basic guideline for mesomorphs to follow would be to consume meals that are 40% complex carbohydrates, 30% lean protein and 30% healthy fats. So, for example, a plate that contained vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli, grilled chicken and olive oil on wholegrain bread would represent a staple dish for this body type.

What Else?

You should also factor in recovery days.  Some light movements on your rest days will help get the blood flowing and keep you fresh.

Money Moves

You’ll respond well to power moves.  Try pairing a strength move with a power move that works the same muscles. For example, superset five reps on the deadlift with five on the power clean.

The Mesomorph Cheat Sheet

Do

  • Train like an athlete

  • Time your workouts

  • Set personal bests

Don’t

  • Take your body for granted

  • Eat whatever you like

Train for Your Body Type: Endomorphs -- Part 3 of 4

Endomorph Body Type

Endomorph:  Often pear-shaped, with a high tendency to store body fat

Endomorphs are adept at storing fuel, with muscle and mass concentrated in the lower body. The endomorph is the hardest body type to have in terms of managing your weight and overall fitness, but to get a more balanced physique, you should focus on developing your shoulders and stripping away excess mass from your lower body.  A low- to medium-intensity cardio plan will help you shift weight, as will a diet that’s high in fiber.

Are You an Endomorph?

If you have trouble shifting weight, the chances are you’re an endomorph, characterized by a relatively high amount of stored mass, a wide waist and a large bone structure.

What’s Going On?

The good news is that, evolutionarily speaking, you’re awesome when food was scarce, natural selection favored humans with fat-storing metabolisms. The bad news is that, now sofas and milkshakes are readily available, those genes are holding you back. Some experts suggest heredity factors might account for as much as 70% of your body mass index (BMI).

What Endomorphs Might Be Doing Wrong

First, the good bit: there’s no point in spending hours plodding away on a treadmill.  Ditch the long, slow, steady-state cardiovascular work, start doing more interval-based conditioning to strip away fat. Sprints and box jumps are great, but if you’re heavy to the point of being worried about your joints, then moves like the sled push are slower but just as intense.

And if you’re doing hundreds of crunches to try and shift your gut, ditch them now.  Spot-reducing just doesn’t work, you need to lose it from everywhere to see results.

What Endomorphs Should Be Doing

While much of the endomorph’s focus should be on shedding mass through aerobic exercise, we’re of the opinion that weight-training is best because it carries on burning calories long after your final set. What’s more, the calories you ingest during the recovery period will help your muscles grow rather than fuelling your gut. Therefore, we recommend doing four days a week of hypertrophy training (more weight, low reps) alongside your cardio.

Combine hypertrophy work – basically, muscle-building – with conditioning to strip away unwanted body mass.   A four-day split might go something like: Monday, upper-body hypertrophy; Tuesday, lower-body conditioning such as sprints or sleds; Thursday lower-body hypertrophy; and a Friday ‘repetition’ day on the upper body, when you’ll do lots of reps at relatively low weights.

What to Eat

From a nutrition perspective, a low-carb diet that still includes oats and brown rice should be complimented by a high protein and fiber intake.  Nutrients such as green tea and spinach will help with the fat burning process.  You’ll have to watch what you eat more strictly than people with other body shapes.  Get your carbs from vegetables and steer clear of processed bread and rice.

What Else?

There’s evidence that extra weight around the midsection indicates high stress levels or a low ability to handle stress.  Try to minimize the effects of the stress hormone cortisol by getting plenty of sleep and avoiding overtraining.  Also, avoid sports drinks.  They’re full of carbs and they’ll spike your blood sugar through the roof.

Money Moves

Work on bodyweight moves such as the press-up or chin-up, and moves that force you to use good technique such as the Turkish get-up.

The Endomorph Cheat Sheet

Do

  • Train with intensity

  • Watch your carb intake

  • Build your shoulders

Don’t

  • Do endless crunches

  • Jog for hours

  • Drink sports drinks

Train for Your Body Type: Ectomorphs -- Part 2 of 4

Ectomorph:  Train for your Body Type

Ectomorph: Lean and long, with difficulty building muscle

Ectomorphs are good at processing carbohydrates into energy and your fast metabolism means that you burn off fat easily. The downside is that you struggle to bulk up because your fast-twitch fibres are underdeveloped. To gain muscle, you need to keep cardio sessions to a minimum and focus on workouts using compound exercises to maximise growth hormone release. You’ll also need to take on additional calories including plenty of starchy carbs and whey protein.

Are You an Ectomorph?

You’ve got the build of a marathon runner – lean, but short on muscle. It can be hard to pack on size despite hours in the gym.

What Ectomorphs May Be Doing Wrong

Three days of strength training should be coupled with two days of low-intensity cardio.  Effective abs exercises include the captain’s chair, the bicycle crunch and abs crunches while sat on an exercise ball. First, ditch the treadmill. “Ectomorphs often gravitate to long, slow distance work, but it’s the worst thing they can do [to build muscle],” says trainer Will Purdue.

And it may be tempting to pack your routine with classic bodybuilder moves such as the biceps curl, but that’s another mistake, says Purdue. “I often see ectomorphs focusing on isolation moves, whereas big, compound movements such as the squat will involve more muscles and give you the hormonal boost that helps build muscle. I still use isolation moves, but they’re supplementary to the main workout moves – 80% of moves should be working big muscle groups.”

What Ectomorphs Should Be Doing

And there’s no need to live in the gym to put on muscle – quite the contrary, in fact. “If you’re working out four, five days a week you’ll be speeding up your metabolism too much,” says trainer Hughes. “I tend to limit my ectomorphs to three workouts a week, keeping the actual training time after a warm-up to 45 minutes or less.”

What to Eat

In terms of nutrition, a diet that is high in calories, carbs, protein and fat will aid you in your quest for muscle gain. This should not be mistaken for eating precisely what you like. Rather, it just means you should eat more of what is healthy. Good news: you don’t have to steer clear of carbs such as oats, wholemeal bread and potatoes. Fats found in nuts, seeds and avocado will also bring about the right results. “Ectomorphs should respond well to carbs, which will spike blood sugar and help to drive protein to their muscles,” says trainer Mark Hughes.  Stick to the complex kind, such as sweet potatoes and brown rice.

Money Moves

The deadlift is your best friend: people with long arms should find it relatively easy, and it uses the entire body so it’ll pack on mass. Although squats and benching will do wonders for your physique, taller ectomorphs might find them difficult. “Your longer levers might give you trouble getting below parallel in the squat,” says Purdue. “That’s when I recommend the leg press.”

The Ectomorph Cheat Sheet

  • DO
  • Train with compound moves
  • Get enough protein
  • Don't only use isolation moves -- 80% of weight training should be big muscle groups
  • DON'T
  • Overemphasize isolation moves
  • Do too much cardio 
  • Skip out on weight training 

Train for Your Body Type: Part 1 of 4

Train for Your Body Type

While a healthy approach to diet and exercise can dramatically change the way you look and feel, genetics still plays a large part in our body shape and what exercise and foods are best for us to see results.  American psychologist William Sheldon popularized three broad categories of body in the 1940s and those are still what we use today.  These are:

  1. Ectomorph:  Lean and long, with difficulty building muscle

  2. Endomorph:  Big, high body fat, often pear-shaped, with a high tendency to store body fat

  3. Mesomorph:  Muscular and well-built, with a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells

But what do these three terms mean in reality? In short, ectomorphs stay lean despite hours in the gym, endomorphs struggle to not pack on the pounds, and mesomorphs pack on muscle with ease.  Learning which body shape you were born with, and understanding what that means for your training and diet plans, will help you train smarter to maximize your potential and get closer to building the body that you’ve always wanted.

Falling Between Categories

Although there are three clear body types, it’s important to be aware that these aren’t set in stone.  The three body types exist but probably never in their pure form.  We all have some aspects of endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy,” says Professor Lars McNaughton from Edge Hill University.

Whatever your characteristics, you should know that regardless of your body type, anyone can get lean or put on considerable muscle mass – and, equally, gain weight if they’re not careful.  It might be harder for a skinny guy to pack on pounds of muscle, but if Justin Bieber can do it it’s not impossible!

In VarCity’s next posts you’ll find more information on how to identify your own body type – or mixture of types – and learn how to tailor your fitness tactics to it:  what you should be doing in the gym and the kitchen, where you might be going wrong, what to eat and what moves make the biggest difference.  And at the very least, you’ll gain a better understanding of why your body is the shape it is and know how to get the best out of your genetic make-up.

The Importance Of Sleep

Whatever your body type, to get the most out of your training you need to focus on your nutrition and recovery – with the key to the latter being getting enough sleep.

Most of us tend to associate testosterone and growth hormone with pure muscle growth. However, they are equally important in aiding fat loss and recovery from exercise.  Sleep has a massive say on your body’s production of said hormones.

A University of Chicago study found that if your levels of sleep fall below eight hours a night over the course of a week, testosterone can be lowered by 10% or more.  Your body’s levels of testosterone and growth hormone are also regulated by the amount of sleep you gain within a daily cycle known as a “circadian rhythm”.  You should aim to synchronize your circadian rhythm with daylight and night-time.

Your sleep can be negatively affected by unusual or additional light at night.  A great step you can take to alleviate any light interaction with sleep is to switch off lights and electronic devices at least one hour before you go to sleep.

To learn more about the importance of sleep click here.