Put the word “metabolism” or “metabolic” in front of anything and peoples’ ears pick up. We’re all familiar with metabolism (the speed at which your body burns calories) and so metabolism is forever associated with increased fat burn. This has led many to fall into the trap of trying to find secrets or hacks to boost their metabolism and lose weight quicker.
One such diet that promotes this is the metabolic typing diet. This was originally proposed by Dr. William Wolcott and revolved around the idea that there are different body types or shapes, and that our genetics and how we’re naturally built determines how we should eat. This caught peoples’ attention, as it made the diet seem particularly personalized, and gave folk a reason for perhaps so far not quite being in the shape they wanted. As you look deeper though, the metabolic typing diet isn’t quite what it seems.
The first thing you need to do is take a test. Unlike other diets that may involve blood or saliva tests however, the test for metabolic typing is purely a written one, and asks about your thoughts and feelings.
There are questions that revolve around anger, anxiety, what times you get hungry, what types of food make you feel full, and all manner of similar issues. In total there are 65 questions in the original tests, though other well-known fitness and nutrition professionals such as Paul Chek and Dr. Oz have also come up with similar questionnaires designed to find the same answers, but that are a little shorter.
Once you’ve answered everything, (each question has a choice of Ab, B or C) you tally up your scores and see how many of each letter you got. Depending on your overall score, you’re classified as either a “protein type,” “carbo type,” or “mixed type.”
As a protein type, your diet will include lots of protein (particularly lean animal proteins) and only small to moderate amounts of carbs at each meal. Carbo types are encouraged to eat more carbs and less protein and fat, with proteins coming mainly from white fish and only low-fat dairy products. Mixed types are, not surprisingly, asked to eat roughly an equal amount of lean proteins, non-lean proteins and carbs.
What are the Benefits?
Advocates would have you believe that by eating depending on how you feel your body responds to certain diets and foods, you’ll cut down on anything that doesn’t agree with you and have a diet you enjoy more, hence are more likely to stick to it.
Whatever your body type, eating junk food is strongly discouraged, which can only be a good thing. A 2005 study from ‘The British Medical Journal’ found that eating junk food in early life was strongly indicated with being obese in later life. (1)
Whatever type you choose, all types of diet could be considered healthy too, as while the amounts of each food type change, they all include wholesome carbohydrates and different types of protein. Additionally, many followers of the metabolic typing diet report to feeling better once they establish their type, though there’s no science to back this up.
What are the Cons?
Taking the test itself can take a long time and you may spend a few hours doing this before you even discover what type you supposedly fit into. According to dietitian Juliette Kellow, the diet doesn’t make any weight loss promises, and the initial book itself is very heavy going. On the Weight Loss Resources website, Kellow notes – “This book is incredibly heavy going and certainly seems to blind its readers with science. Unfortunately, much of this is science fiction rather than science fact. While the idea of eating a different diet to suit your metabolisms is interesting, most health professionals are still in agreement that a healthy, balanced diet is the only type of diet most people need to follow.”
A Day in the Diet
This will depend on what type you fit into.
However, a protein type would start the day with a mix of whole eggs and egg whites, perhaps with some vegetables or a piece of low-carb fruit such as some melon or a few berries. Lunch could be a chicken lettuce wrap with almonds on the side, and dinner would be a steak with lots more vegetables. Snacks would include deli meat, cottage cheese, yogurt, nuts, beef jerky and peanut butter.
For carb types, you’re looking at cereals with skim milk or possibly oats and dried fruit for breakfast. Your lunch could be a tuna fish sandwich with low-fat dressing and salad, then a dinner of brown rice and beans with a small amount of cod or possibly some white meat such as chicken or turkey breast. Your snacks would be fruit, rice cakes with low-fat cheese or jelly, cereal bars and crackers.
Mixed types would simply need to find a balance between the above diets by either adding some carbs to the protein diet, or reducing carbs and upping protein in the carb type diet.
Should You Do the Metabolic Typing Diet?
If spending several hours going through a questionnaire to find out supposedly what foods you respond best to, and then having to take time to avoid things you potentially enjoy appeals to you, then yes!
For most people though, the metabolic typing diet is a waste of time, as the vast majority of us simply need to reduce our intake of processed foods and refined carbs, eat a little more lean protein and control our calorie intake. Seeing that there’s no solid science to back up any of the claims in the metabolic tying diet, and the book itself is jam-packed with filler, such as information on how to avoid toxic household chemicals, electromagnetic fields and even tips on spinal care, there’s really not too much of value in there.
The best way to determine if you have any particular type is to have a think about your natural body shape and how active you are. If you’re typically lean and train a lot, then you’ll need more carbs, whereas if you’re sedentary and struggle to lose body fat, cut your carbs back a little and eat a bit more protein and fat. If you’re struggling with this, why not check out our 3 Awesome Low-Carb Lunches.
Mike Samuels is an online coach, personal trainer and writer based in Southampton, UK. He specializes in training clients for fat loss and encourages a flexible approach to nutrition and training. He holds personal training and sports massage certifications from Premier Global, and is also a Precision Nutrition qualified level 1 coach.
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