Have you ever wondered why some guys pack on muscle eating junk food alone while all you seem to gain is a gut? From the early days of the food pyramid, we have been taught to believe that foods are either “good” or “bad” based strictly upon their macro nutrient ratios. But as more and more research accumulates on the effects of processing on blood sugar, we are learning that when it comes to weight loss– or “fat loss” in our case– not all foods were created equal. While the traditional “chicken and tuna” approach has worked for some, getting lean may be more complex than going low carb. In fact, according to a concept known as “metabolic typing” obesity is a sign of malnutrition. Metabolic typing contends that, rather than over eating, overweight people are actually starving themselves of food which normalize their metabolism– in turning leading to hunger, digestion and health problems.
Breaking Down Your Type
Defined by a rigorous 60 page questionnaire– which analyses individual characteristics from food preferences to the oiliness of one’s skin– your metabolic type is largely based upon two key factors which control cellular metabolism. The first is the autonomic nervous system. There are two branches of this system. One of these branches, the sympathetic nervous system, is often referred to as the “fight or flight” branch. It helps you burn energy. The other branch is the parasympathetic nervous system. This branch helps you conserve energy. It also helps you digest food. Wolcott says that one branch tends to be stronger or more dominant than the other. Wolcott says high potassium foods—such as a banana or orange—stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, while high calcium foods stimulate the sympathetic system. The second factor considered in metabolic typing is cellular oxidation—the rate at which the cells burn energy for fuel. Some people are fast oxidizers, because they rapidly convert food into energy. In order to balance their systems, fast oxidizers need to eat heavier proteins and fats that burn slowly. In contrast, slow oxidizers convert food into energy at a slow rate. In order to balance their systems, it’s recommended that they eat mainly carbohydrates rather than protein and fat. While each individual is unique in their metabolic type to some degree, most fall in to three general metabolic categories:
- Protein types — Protein types are fast oxidizers and parasympathetic dominant. They tend to be frequently hungry, crave fatty, salty foods, fail with low-calorie diets, and tend towards fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness. They are often lethargic or feel “wired”, “on edge”, with superficial energy while being tired underneath.
- Carbo types — Carbo types are slow oxidizers or sympathetic dominant. They generally have relatively weak appetites, a high tolerance for sweets, problems with weight management, “type A” personalities, and are often dependent on caffeine.
- Mixed types — Mixed types are neither fast nor slow oxidizers, and are neither parasympathetic nor sympathetic dominant. They generally have average appetites, cravings for sweets and starchy foods, relatively little trouble with weight control, and tend towards fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness.
Within these general requirements lie individual variations in such factors as circadian rhythm (or biological clock) which regulates digestive rate and meal timing. “We may both be protein types and need high protein and lower carbs, but we may differ significantly in what and how much we eat for breakfast,” said Wolcott. Based upon questionnaire responses, clients are provided step by step guidelines to meal portions and timing for carbs, fat and protein, along with a detailed list of foods which balance and upset your metabolism.
- According to Walcott, eating for your type will not only enhance performance, but also eliminate physical ailments. For example, a carb type with high cholesterol would dramatically lower their cholesterol levels by eating a high carbohydrate diet, while this diet would dramatically worsen the risk of a protein type.
Enhancing Metabolic Performance
- When it comes to performance, two control systems which define metabolic typing are aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. Based upon individual strengths and weakness in these systems, some people excel in endurance type sports (such as running, or swimming) while others are better in anaerobic activities (heavy weight lifting and sprinting) “Through metabolic typing, we have an understanding of what foods and nutrients have specific effects on aerobic and anaerobic metabolism.” explained Walcott. “This knowledge allows us to really fine tune a program for an athlete for any sport based upon their genetic requirements.” As opposed to fad diets or performance enhancing drugs, Walcott says eating for one’s metabolic type yields dramatic, lasting differences in as little as a day. In order to observe the dramatic affects of metabolic type, he offers this challenge for readers: “Try eating an all carbohydrate meal for one day and then switch over to an all fat and protein meal the next day and watch the difference in emotions, energy level and mental acuity.” Athletes will also notice a dramatic dip or rise in their performance he said. While the questionnaire offered on Wolcott’s website provides guidelines on what and how to eat, many new clients also make use of a metabolic advisor. The metabolic advisor is used to make dietary recommendations based upon the results from your metabolic questionnaire. “For more advanced goals like bodybuilding and competitive sports, the best way to get an edge on performance is to work with someone experienced in this area,” indicates Wolcott, who has trained numerous metabolic advisors across the globe. To learn more about your metabolic type and finding a metabolic advisor visit