Ah, the ectomorph body type. Most of us are a little jealous of their thin frame that carries very little extra fat. This body type is often referred to as a "thin frame" as they have small joints and smaller bones. An ectomorph will carry very little fat, but with that they also have little muscle as well. While an ectomorph is usually the envy of onlookers, it comes with it's own set of challenges.
AN ectomorph maintains a thin frame throughout their whole life, and in general have a very difficult time puting on muscle and keeping it on. There is a lot of training involved for an ectomorph to put muscle on their bodies. It requires the right kind of training and the proper nutrition and sleep in order to foster muscle growth.
In general an ectomorph has a smaller appetite and is often full shortly after eating. (Occasionally we see the complete opposite -- which makes most of us jealous!) An ectomorph has a fairly high metabolism, which allows them to eat a gambit of food without seeing weight fluctuations. Again, while this may seem like an advantage, it can also lead to malnutrition and can lead to the infamous "skinny fat" situation.
Ectomorphs can also have an advantage when it comes to muscle building, however, as their bodies have very little fat, they will notice the results of weight training quickly through muscle definition.
DIET FOR THE ECTOMORPH
Someone with the ectomorph body type should focus their diet on carbohydrates and protein. And not just any old carbohydrate. It's best to consume complex carbs like pasta, high fiber grains, rice and dried fruit. These will help with the small appetite of the ectomorph. In fact an ectomorph should aim to make about 50% of their calories from carbohydrates.
The other large part of the ectomorph diet is protein. This will be essential for muscle gain. A diet of about 30% of their calories from protein is ideal. But with a protein rich diet, it's also important for the ectomorph to consume A LOT of water. This will help with digestion and will also aid the muscles repairing themselves after weight focused workouts.
Ectomorphs should also focus on high density foods such as almonds, peanut butter and avocados. Snacks should be nutrient dense foods such as these. An ectomorph should avoid empty calorie foods and avoid fried and junk foods at all costs. These foods will leave an ectomorph full, but won't give their body or muscles proper nutrition.
While most diet plans don't mention fruits or vegetables for the ectomorph, they are still an important part of any healthy diet. Choose fruits and vegetables with more nutrients than water based produce (for example eating spinach as opposed to celery). This will help get the ectomorph proper nutrition while making sure there is still enough room for protein and carbs.
EXERCISE FOR THE ECTOMORPH
The training and exercise for the ectomorph is VERY different from the endomorph or mesomorph. The tough job of puting on muscle plays a HUGE part on the game plan advised for a thin body frame. As mentioned before, even though gaining muscle may be huge task, the ectomorph will be able to see the results due to the low fat content of their bodies.
AN ectomorph will want to focus on HEAVY weight training. However, it is very important not to over-train the ectomorph bodies. To achieve this, it's best to focus on shorter sets of heavy weights with longer rests in between sets. A workout for the ectomorph should be shorter (around 30 minutes). Another thing to keep in mind as an ectomorph is to focus on one muscle group at a time. Avoiding full body weight workouts will ensure an ectomorph isn't over-trained.
Cardio is also important to keep an ectomorph in top-performing shape. That being said, an ectomorph shouldn't focus on steady state cardio like running or cycling. Cardio exercises that are beneficial to the ectomorph are things like swimming, kick-boxing and high intensity interval training. An ectomorph will want to pair these exercises with a lot of muscle work and core training to stay strong.
Just like any body type, there are advantages and disadvantages to the ectomorph. Knowing what's best for your body will help you achieve the goals you've set in your fitness and training routines.