According to Marie Savard, M.D., author of the weight loss book “Apples & Pears: The Body Shape Solution for Weight Loss and Wellness,” body shape is the most powerful predictor of human health. Women with pear-shaped bodies gain weight on the hips and thighs, while their upper bodies remain slim. This is good news, in a way. Both men and women with apple-shaped bodies, who gain significant weight around the belly, are at greater risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and cancer, according to diet experts.
Determining Your Shape
If you are not sure whether you are apple-shaped or pear-shaped, there is a quick way to tell. Take a tape measure and place it around your waist. Record the figure. Then measure your hips. Divide the waist measurement number by the hip measurement number. If the total is 0.8 or lower, you have a pear-shaped body, meaning that you carry more fat around your hips and thighs. If you are pear-shaped, you’ll use a different strategy to lose weight than an apple-shaped person.
What Fat Deposits Mean
It’s important to note that people with pear-shaped bodies, who carry fat around their hips and thighs, store fat more shallowly than the deeper, visceral abdominal fat that accumulates around the organs of apple-shaped people. This means that the fat is doing less harm on your body and you will have fewer health risks. People with pear shapes simply have a different physical chemistry, hormone production and metabolism than apple-shaped folks, which means that they are at less risk for obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and certain cancers. In fact, Dr. Savard believes that pear-zone fat is passive and actually protects against heart disease. However, pear-shaped women are prone to osteoporosis, varicose veins and cellulite and tend to have more difficulty losing weight in general.
Healthy Diet for a Pear-Shaped Body
Butter’s a no-no for pear-shaped dieters, who tend to crave salty foods.
On her website, Dr. Savard recommends that pear-shaped dieters should stick with complex carbohydrates like green vegetables and whole grains. Eat low fat; aim to get about 20 percent of your diet from healthy fats like salmon, almonds and flax seed, and use olive and canola oils. Moderate protein intake is recommended, such as chicken and lamb. Vegetarians can get their protein from brown rice, spinach, oats, lentils and black beans. The worst foods for this body type, according to Dr. Savard, are cheese, butter and salty foods. She recommends taking a calcium supplement, since osteoporosis is a risk later in life.
Body Image Issues for Pear Shapes
According to Savard, resistance training with free weights three times per week to stave off bone loss is recommended. This will also increase your metabolic rate and burn that pesky fat off over time. Approach dieting and exercise with a little less anxiety, as your excess weight is less likely to be harming you. However, post-menopausal pear-shaped women can start to experience some of the same health problems as apple-shaped women. And pear-shaped women of all ages feel self-conscious about their large buttocks and thighs, so they suffer from more eating disorders than apple-shaped women do.