What diet is right for me?  What ratios of foods should I be eating for my most optimal health and why?  Should I “count my macros” or not count them? 

I’m going to attempt to answer these questions based on personal experience trial & error and what I have found to work in my own practice over the years — Metabolic Typing.

In plain English, Metabolic Typing is what works for optimal health at a basic foundation principle level of:  “what foods should I eat”.

How so?

We are all biochemically unique, metabolically individual and we each have our own food and nutritional requirements for “macros” and the often forgotten “micros”, or cellular satiety of vitamins, minerals, secondary compounds, and more.  Your requirement for food is as unique as your fingerprint and manufactured at the genetic level.  What works for one person has little to no effect on another person, or worse, can cause functional pathology and loss of vitality, energy and athletic performance.

“What is food to one man is bitter poison to others” -Lucretius

Metabolic Typing can get pretty technical and in-depth with a bunch of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry-type terms, so for this article in particular,  I’m going to break it down in layman’s terms.  If you get just two main layman’s points from this article, it would be:

1.   Eat real, whole foods from nature like our ancestors ate.

2.  Eat these foods based on your family lineage and where they evolved & adapted to their environment (and in turn, passed down and is programmed in your genetics).

Once you understand these and learn your metabolic type, you’ll understand you won’t ever have to do a crash diet, fad diet, “celebrity” diet, count calories or yo-yo back and forth with results, ever again.

Let’s dive in…

Metabolic typing in its simplest form comes down to geographical location – where is your ancestry from.   And specifically, what foods are available in that specific region that generation after generation ate.

In the early 20th century a man by the name of Weston A. Price studied indigenous tribes from around the world (here is his book, a must read for anyone in the health profession). He found that they all had one thing fairly in common – they were healthy.  So much so that some of them didn’t even have a word for “cancer” in their language.

What did these people from different locations all around the world with different available food supplies have in common that gave them general good health?

They ate whole, organic foods that were local to their ecosystem; and so did all of their relatives before them to the beginning of human history.

Yet as soon as these people from all across the globe began eating a non-traditional diet of “white man’s” food, functional pathology soon began and they got sick, diseased, experienced growth & development disorders in their offspring/children and much much more.

 Three points to consider for this article:

  1. We have to remember, commercial refrigeration wasn’t around on a mass scale until about the 1940’s and we didn’t invent the airplane to fly food all over the world until right before that.   So our homo sapien species evolved and adapted to eating (like all organisms do) to what was local to our ecosystems and our body and genetic programming is accustomed to that.   It’s not like today where food industry companies can add chemicals like 1-MCP (1-methylcyclopropene) to produce for example to inhibit the spoiling process and store away in cold warehouses for months to even over a year at a time (see the tips section in this post for more), and then hyper-ripen it with ethylene to bring it out on the store shelves when the produce is out of season.  We ate local to our ecosystem and we ate to the seasons throughout all of human history.
  2. We also have to remember the human genome is not quick to change. The foods we ate thousands of years ago are the foods we are designed to eat for optimal health today.  They didn’t have boxed cereal and non-fat skim milk back in the day, right?
  3. Finally we have to realize we only have “organic” labels today because we have commercial farming today (uses pesticides, chemicals, etc), which became more prevalent in our overall world ecosystem during the 20th century.  So today we need labels to tell the difference, even though pretty much from the mid-19th century and before that to the beginning of human history, we all ate 100% organic – that’s all there was, and it’s what your body is designed to function on for optimal health & performance because how food is grown within a functional organic soil ecosystem is what actually gives plants and animals nutrition — that we then eat at the top of the food chain (health starts in the soil).

So what does this mean today with all the diets and diet books available?

The Three Metabolic Types:  Protein, Mixed and Carb.

There are three basic Metabolic Types.

People with ancestry from a northern latitude region, for example, are usually Protein Types via food availability.   The farther north we go from the equator, our ancestry would have to eat progressively more meat.  During the winter the ground freezes over in these regions and plant life doesn’t grow in an ice field, right?  So if you didn’t eat animal foods during the winter, you’d starve! (remember point #1 to consider above).  So an Inuit/Eskimo tribe a couple hundred years back in a northern region like Alaska would eat roughly a 90% fat/protein diet because that was what was available to these people and they would thrive.  Today, that looks something like the Atkins Diet or Ketogenic diets we see.

For a Mixed Type, think Hawaii where seafood is readily available and plant life can be farmed year around.  Today, this is sort of like our Zone, South Beach and Mediterranean diets that follow the 40/30/30-type ratios.

A Carb Type think regions right near the equator.  Plant life year round and not a lot of big game like deer, buffalo, elk, etc. that we would hunt.  We see this today as the Ornish and Pritikin-type diets that are dominant fruit and vegetables.

As for the ratio of foods to eat, think of metabolic typing in terms of your plate and listening to your body.  If you’re eating real, whole foods according to your metabolic type, most people are usually good to go unless there is some underlying functional pathology, fungal or parasite infection, sedated organ/glandular system, etc that needs to be addressed that could be throwing off your results.  For example, if your family tree is from a northern latitude region descent and you tested as a Carb type, there could be something going on like a parasite infection.  Remember, metabolically speaking, usually you won’t test as a dominant plant eater (carb type), when your genetics have been programmed to be animal food dominant (northern latitude region).  So why is this testing off?  Fungus and bacteria outside of the body are what’s called saprophytic – or feed on decaying matter (animal dies, lays on the ground, the decomposers kick in).  Inside the body, they become parasitic – or feed on the host.  That’s us! And they love to feed on sugar.  It’s actually kind of rare to find a Carbo type, so if you tested as one and you don’t have family lineage predominantly from an equator region, these little guys could have thrown off your test scores.  What I mean by that is, that they send off signals in your body for more sugar as their means to survive, so your answers could have been carb dominant.  Do you have sugar cravings?  Could be these little guys talking. Something to think about and feel free to contact me for more info regarding – too much to get into for this particular post.

The disconnect that I see with “diets”, dieting and diet advice these days is that everyone seems to have THE diet that works.  I did a search on Amazon for books related to diet under the subcategory of ‘Books’ and found 79,000+ results.  For real?  Is FOOD really that difficult that we need that many books related to diet written?  No, this isn’t rocket science.  Eat real food.

As for the ratios of those real foods, that’s where metabolic typing comes in.  No one diet fits all because people have different genetics and come from all over the planet where different foods are available.  So by definition, it’s impossible for us to all eat the same.  If any health professional no matter what their title tells you you should eat these specific “macros” based on something like Choose My Plate (which recommends grain and dairy at each meal per the Choose My Plate symbol/image), and more specifically, that everyone should eat like that…my suggestion is find yourself another person to work with. It’s geographically, genetically, scientifically, biochemically, and every other “-cally” impossible for everyone to eat the same for all the reasons I mentioned above.

Case in point: 

Let’s say in my Inuit/Eskimo example above that a person (let’s call him Bob.. Hi Bob!) went to the doctor for a yearly check up, and the doctor asked what his diet is like.  Bob would describe his 90% animal fat/animal protein dominant diet and what do you think the doctor would say?  More than likely he would hear, “Bob, you’re eating too much saturated fat”, and recommend Bob needs to be on a more Standard American Diet (SAD) which includes processed grain, dairy, etc.. foods Bob’s digestive mechanics and body as a whole probably haven’t ever seen before.

So what do you think would soon happen to Bob’s health?

He, his family, and everyone in his family before that ate a certain way of high fat/high protein based on availability…will his health improve or get worse?

In my experience, and based on the correlation of massive chronic disease epidemics the past 100 or so years, it would likely get worse.  Did you know 100+ years ago infectious disease was the top leading cause of death and now the tops are chronic disease like obesity-related, heart disease, cancer, etc.  Why is that?  You can argue “well we have better sanitation, vaccines, etc now so infectious disease is much lower”, absolutely true, won’t argue with you there.  However the total amount of chronic disease has increased on an epidemic level in the past century (even taking into account population growth).  Simple example you can apply to yourself to show this is pull out a picture of your great or great great grandparents and see if they were obese/overweight.  If you don’t have one, google ANY obese person pre-1900’s.  Not to many of them, huh?  I can tell you that 7/10 of our great or great great grandparents, or anyone during that time, were not obese, yet a century or so later, we’re at 70% of the population overweight/obese.

Food, and the state of our food supply today and how we forgot our eating “roots” is absolutely a piece of that epidemic puzzle in my view.

Here is the key to understand with Metabolic Typing and your ratios specifically:

First, if you haven’t taken my in-depth questionnaire to determine your metabolic type, you can get it here

You can try all the different diets, spend the money on books, spend the time with trial and error… or you can learn your metabolic type in a few minutes taking the in-depth questionnaire and save yourself all that time and money.

Once you have your type, you must understand that this is a starting point and not an exact science.  The diet gurus who say their diet is the only way to go are lying- it’s impossible.  We are all biochemically and metabolically unique and require different foods for optimal health (in fact when you look at Metabolic Typing it sort of takes into account all the different diet lifestyles and pinpoints the best one for you based on your results!).  You’ll want to take personal responsibility with your results you get by dialing in what works best for you.  Meaning, there will be some trial & error, but you know your starting point based on your type.

Protein types should be eating 60%+ animal foods to 40%- plant foods.  That means start there in terms of food on your plate and see how you feel for a week.  Try 70/30 and see how you feel.  Keep dialing in.  Or if you can easily trace your family lineage say like Bob, start with 90/10 and see how you feel and work backwards closer and closer to 60/40.

Mixed types means you should be eating roughly half your plate in animal foods and half your plate in plant foods.

Carb types are the opposite of Protein types, 60%+ plant food to 40%- animal foods, and in the same way, play with the ratios that work best for you.  If you’re eating like a vegetarian for example you can be in the upper 90%+ plant foods like the Bob example above for animal foods.  However, are you eating like a vegetarian now, but tested as a protein type?  Something maybe to look at.  Remember, the questionnaire answers are based on how YOU feel (think of it like your biochemistry & genetics talking on a cellular level of what it needs, interpreted through your answers).  If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, I’m not challenging your beliefs at all – you’re free to your own beliefs and I respect that.  There is no “attachment” to metabolic typing, but just remember vegetarians/vegans if your lineage came from a protein type region, you wouldn’t have been able to be a vegetarian/vegan 100+ years ago to the beginning of human history.  Remember, the ground freezes over during winter (and we didn’t have planes then) which means no plants, fruits or grain, so it would have been impossible to eat it. You would have starved.

I’ve had to personally rehabilitate many people who were predominantly eating vegetables & fruit (because we have the plane, refrigeration, etc now and it’s available year round at any major grocery store), by simply giving them high quality, pastured & humanely raised organic meat because they didn’t know they were a protein type.

With metabolic typing, all I care about are the real foods that make you feel good, think well, move well and in general you’re healthy and happy.  It essentially encompasses all food lifestyles or diets – paleo, raw, vegetarian, etc – and pinpoints what is right for YOU. 

Here is a link to William Wolcott’s book, the original creator and innovator of Metabolic Typing.  One of my top 5 books in my library and I highly recommend picking it up if you want to learn all the science and everything there is about it.

 

Wondering why you’re not getting the results you want in your diet/lifestyle? 

Step #1 is always food.  Try switching to eating according to your metabolic type as a foundational start.  Eat real, whole foods based on your type and try avoiding the food-like products.  If you’re confused if a food is something you should or should not eat, simply ask yourself “would I have found this in nature / my local ecosystem 100+ years ago?”.  Bread, rice cakes and tortillas don’t grow on trees.  As a general rule, when I consult I tell people shop the borders of your grocery stores (minus pasteurized juice and milk) and stay away from the middle aisles.  We find our whole, real foods on the border usually (plant foods, animal foods, etc), and we find our food-like products disguised as real food down the aisles.  Simple tip you can give anyone yourself if they ask you about food.

Are you eating according to your metabolic type?  Did your test results come out different than the current lifestyle you’re living?  For example eating Atkins/Ketogenic-type diet but tested as a Carb type?  Or maybe eating Vegetarian but tested a Protein type?  Let me know and happy to answer any questions in the comments.

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