Metabolic Typing – An Introduction

Are you running on the right fuel? That depends on whether you are a Ferrari or a Mack Truck?

Imagine you’re the owner of a beautiful, big, brand new Mack Truck, and you pull into the most exclusive petrol station that has the highest quality gasoline from the world’s leading refinery. Now this gasoline is as good as it gets, and you’re driving the best truck on 18 wheels. The man at the station decides to put the best quality gasoline in that big diesel engine. Oops! That Mack Truck had better have plenty of sleeping area because you’re not going anywhere fast. Now it’s not the fuel’s or the truck’s fault, it was simply the wrong fuel.

This analogy between individuality and appropriate fuel source is the principle behind Metabolic Typing. Below we examine:

• What Metabolic Typing is
• The three basic Metabolic Types
• The history behind Metabolic Typing
• How you can find out which Metabolic Type you are?

What is Metabolic Typing?

The following excerpt is drawn directly from The Metabolic Typing Diet by Wolcott & Fahey. (1)

Metabolic typing is based on the fact that over thousands of years of evolutionary history, people in different parts of the world developed very distinct nutritional needs (biochemical individuality), in response to a whole range of variables, including climate and geography and whatever plant and animal life their environments had to offer.

As a result, people today have widely varying nutrient requirements, especially with regard to macronutrients – the proteins, carbohydrates and fats that are the fundamental dietary “building blocks”, most essential to sustaining life.

We all need a full spectrum of nutrients. But, different people have genetically programmed requirements for different amounts of various nutrients.

It is these differing genetically based requirements that explain why a certain nutrient can cause one person to feel good, have no effect on another, and cause a third person to feel worse. Basically unless you acquire all the nutrients for which you have been genetically programmed, your cells’ ability to perform their functions will be impaired.

Conversely when you eat according to your own unique hereditary requirements, as opposed to following some universal dos and don’ts or randomly prescribed dietary advice, it’s entirely possible that you can…

• Achieve and maintain your ideal weight
• Strengthen your immune system
• Optimize physical energy and mental clarity
• Enhance athletic performance and endurance
• Overcome mood swings and depression
• Prevent and reverse degenerative disease

There’s no single greater influence on your health than the food you eat several times a day, every single day of your life. One must first identify the specific raw materials that will support the body’s unique biochemical requirements, and then supply them in the right combinations. Then, simply step aside and let your body repair, rebuild, and regulate itself.

The three basic Metabolic Types

1. Protein types (fast oxidisers) – some characteristics of people who are a protein type are: strong appetites (live to eat), cravings for salty and fatty foods, failure with low calorie diets, as well as fatigue, anxiety or nervousness. They burn or oxidise carbohydrates quickly and must eat more protein and fat to slow this process. Protein types also have a higher requirement for purines, which is a type of amino acid found in dark meats, like red meat, chicken legs and anchovies.

An average ratio would be 35% carbohydrates, 45% protein, and 20% fats and oils.

2. Carb types (slow oxidisers) – some characteristics of the carb types are: weak appetite, high tolerance for sweets, type-A personalities, variable energy, and caffeine dependency. They don’t burn fats and proteins as efficiently and therefore require a higher amount of carbohydrates (remember though not all carbohydrates are the same so it doesn’t mean they can eat all the pasta they want).

Carb types often do well on meals consisting of around 70% carbohydrates and 30% light meats and lower fat foods.

3. Mixed types – as the name suggests they sit somewhere in the middle.

Some characteristics of the mixed type are: variable appetite, cravings for sweets and carbs, weight control problems, fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness. (6)

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Carb type Mixed type Protein type

The history behind Metabolic Typing

In 95-55 BC Lucritius said: “What is food to one man may be fierce poison to others.”

Since the beginning of time different cultures have had to adapt to the surroundings they lived in, including the available food within their region and as a result of this, biochemical differences arose. In his ground breaking book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Weston A. Price documented the vast differences of diet among 16 indigenous cultures. One example was between the Eskimos who eat a diet predominately of fat and protein, while the Quetchus Indians of South America ate mainly plant based foods and only a small amount of meat. Both peoples were equally healthy and had excellent physiques on a vastly different diet, which if swapped might not have the same result. (5)

Now in the Far East Metabolic typing has existed for thousands of years. For example India Ayurvedic Medicine (5000 years old) recognises three body types – pitta, vatta and kapha – each requiring their own specific dietary needs.

Chinese medicine also teaches different constitutions and therefore recommends different dietary needs (earth, wood, water, metal and fire).

In the west Metabolic Typing has been steadily improved upon with time through contributions from various progressively-minded researchers with the underlying notion of ‘health being dependent on one’s ability to obtain all the nutrients for which one has a genetic requirement’. (4)

Several of the key figures include:

Dr. Roger Williams, the noted biochemist and author of the classic 1956 book ‘Biochemical Individuality’ states that all people are genetically predisposed to specific nutritional needs, which, if not met, may lead to chronic health problems.

This he termed a person’s biochemical individuality. He believed that all such chronic problems, even the most serious ones, are caused by such ‘cellular malnutrition”. (2)

From Williams and several other key figures came the first form of Metabolic Typing by Dr. William Kelley in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Dr. George Watson, a clinical psychologist and scientist, also examined the role of nutrition on the body and particularly the mind in his fascinating book ‘Nutrition and Your Mind’. He states the case that mental and emotional disorders are the result of the physical malfunctioning of the body’s metabolism. Dr. Watson had noticed that some people were fast oxidisers, who burned foods and nutrients quickly, while others were slow oxidisers who burned foods and nutrients slowly.

By prescribing specific foods and nutrients to balance oxidative imbalances in patients he discovered that many of their clinical problems were resolved. (3)

Today one of the leading authority’s on Metabolic Typing is William Wolcott (author of The Metabolic Typing Diet), who further refined the work of his predecessor’s Kelley and Watson and through the clinical findings of thousands of patients over a period of 30 years.

How you can find out your Metabolic Type?

Beginning with the low cost alternatives:

1. On mercola.com is a very basic test available for free (10 questions). Mercola.com is the largest online health newsletter and amazing resource for holistic health.

2. This months book review Paul Chek’s ‘Eat, move and be healthy’ also uses a basic Metabolic Test (14 questions).

3. The Metabolic Typing Diet (which I thoroughly recommend) by William Wolcott has a 65 question test.

However through my experience with these tests most people begin around the mixed type as their level of awareness is generally low and influenced by outside factors regarding what is good for them. If you are to use them it is imperative that you follow the fine tuning guides accompanying or they will remain simply guesses and you may miss out on the benefits that Metabolic Typing has to offer.

4. The most thorough initial way is through a professional Metabolic Typing Advisor who uses a comprehensive online questionnaire that examines physical and psychological traits and reactions to food. For further information go to www.metabolictyping.com.

Here is my challenge to you:

1. Complete one of the tests to find out your Metabolic Type

2. Begin tuning into your body’s feedback mechanisms

Remember this is the most essential aspect of metabolic typing – creating awareness or, simply stated, “listening to your body” in regards to how certain foods make you feel. So are you a Mack Truck, Ferrari or something in between?

Your 3d Coach
Craig Burton

Recommended reading and references
(1) Wolcott, W., The Metabolic Typing Diet, New York, Doubleday, 2000
(2) Williams, R.J., Biochemical Individuality, New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1956
(3) Dr. Watson, G., Nutrition and Your Mind, Bantam Book, Row and Harper, 1972
(4) Mercola, J., Dr. Mercola’s Total Health Cookbook and Program, Mercola.com, 2004
(5) Chek, P., How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!, Chek Institute, 2004
(6) Burris, C., Truth in Nutrition, Pt on the Net.com article, 2003