Should You Diet for Your Body Type?

Weight loss plans such as WeightWatchers, Atkins, and the Paleolithic (or caveman) diets claim to provide weight loss and health benefits to anyone willing to stick to the plan. However, recently there has been a move away from the one-diet-fits-all model to food plans tailored to an individual's body type.

The thinking behind this trend is that various body types respond differently to changes in hormones like insulin, which both regulates metabolism and blood sugar levels, and influences weight. Essentially, to know your body type is to know your metabolic type—and to understand how your body will react to different kinds of nutrients.

Hunters and Farmers

According to Mark Liponis, MD, author of The Hunter/Farmer Diet, the key to weight loss is knowing whether your body type is that of a "hunter" or a "farmer," and adapting your diet accordingly:

  • Hunters tend to have more belly fat, while the legs and butt remain relatively thin. Liponis recommends that those with more belly fat consume "a low-carb diet based on protein and veggies. Hunters are better suited to eating less often, maybe once or twice a day."
  • Farmers tend to hold most of their weight in their hips and butt. Farmers should eat "a low-fat, grain-based diet and frequent small meals and snacks."

Ayurvedic Types

Dr. Liponis' theory isn't the only approach that bases diet recommendations on body type. Ayurveda, a system of traditional medicine native to India, has its own nutritional schema centered on body type. According to the Ayurvedic tradition, your body type, or dosha, should determine your diet and food choices. There are three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

  • Kaphas, the largest body type, with characteristically large hips and shoulders, do best with lighter food choices such as steamed vegetables and should stay away from fat-laden fare.
  • Pittas have a medium build and relatively good muscle tone. Kulreet Chaudhary, MD, neurologist, maharishi ayurveda expert, and Dr. Oz panelist, suggests that those with the Pitta dosha avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and acidic foods such as coffee and vinegar.
  • Vatas may struggle to gain weight, and should consume a diet high in warm, soupy dishes and avoid raw, cold foods.

Of course, much research is still needed to corroborate the benefits of dieting for a specific body type versus simply eating clean, whole foods that are as little processed as possible. Still, with a variety of body type diets becoming available, you'll have a bit more food for thought when considering your next health decision.

Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, reviewed this article.




Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. "An Ayurveda Diet for Stress Relief & Weight Loss." Web. Page accessed 6 July 2013.

"Are You a Hunter or a Farmer? Know Your Type to Better Lose Weight." Fox Web. Published 3 May 2012. Page accessed 6 July 2013.

"The Hunter/Farmer Diet." Web. Page accessed 6 July 2013.