Diets for a Pear-Shaped Body

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.

Dr. Oz talks extreme weight loss ‘thigh gap’ diets and magnesium energy boosters

For several years, girls, teens and young women have been obsessed with achieving the newest slim sensation: Thigh Gaps. But their extreme weight loss plans can pose dangers, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz. On his Feb. 25 talk show, Dr. Oz explored thigh gap diets. Plus: Find out how to boost your energy with magnesium.

As an example of how these diets can become obsessive, Dr. Oz talked with Camille Hugh, author of “The Thigh Gap Hack: The Shortcut to Slimmer, Feminine Thighs Every Woman Secretly Desires” (click for details). Camille feels that her book does a service in offering tricks such as overcoming hunger, exercises and focusing primarily on very low calorie foods. She defended her desire to achieve the thigh gap look.

However, Dr. Oz is concerned that books and views such as Camille’s can lead to eating disorders. He asked eating disorder specialist Dr. Jennifer Thomas to offer her insights.

Author of “Almost Anorexic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem? (The Almost Effect),” Dr. Thomas notes that Camille’s emphasis on extreme weight loss and low body fat parallels the development of anorexia. By obsessing on those goals, young girls are at risk of developing eating disorders.

In addition to the emotional aspects of anorexia, girls focused on developing thigh gaps put their health at risk, warned Dr. Oz. They may lose muscle, which impacts the metabolism and even can affect the heart.

Note: This week is National Eating Disorders Week, designed to spread awareness: Learn more by clicking here. And find out about resources on eating disorders, from memoirs to DVDs to self-help guides, by clicking here.

Also on the show, Dr. Oz discussed magnesium for energy and health. Symptoms of insufficient magnesium include constipation, anxiety, fatigue and muscle spasms. Studies show that up to 75 percent of American adults lack enough magnesium.

To boost your magnesium levels, eat these foods:

  • kidney beans
  • black beans
  • brown rice
  • quinoa
  • bran cereal