Do You Know What Your Metabolic Type Is?

4 Minute Read

An HFE tutor with a group of smiling fitness students
An HFE tutor with a group of smiling fitness students

In the early 20th Century, a dentist by the name of Weston Price began expeditions around the world in an attempt to find the link between the foods we eat and chronic diseases. During his travels, Price noted that people throughout the world were able to eat seemingly opposite diets and yet live long and healthy lives. He also noted that in populations that consumed as much of 70% of their daily energy from sources of fat, the presence of heart disease, cancers and other serious conditions afflicting the western world were unheard of. The work of Price was continued in later years by other medical professionals and concluded with the belief that the way in which people’s metabolism functioned was different, especially with respect to the nervous system and the rate at which food is converted into energy –these factors were:

The ‘autonomic nervous system’ is concerned with controlling the sub-conscious functions of the body like heart rate, digestion and to some extent breathing. This system has two primary components, the sympathetic and parasympathetic domains. Sympathetic actions generally increase the output of a cell or organ while parasympathetic actions generally reduce or slow down this output. Supporters of the Metabolic Typing diet believe that one component of the autonomic nervous system is more dominant than the other (based on hereditary factors and place of origin) which in turn affects the rate of metabolism and the foods that can effectively be digested.

The ‘rate of cellular oxidation’ describes the speed in which the body is able to convert ingested foods into energy- the work of Price and his advocates believes that different people oxidise (burn with oxygen) foods at different rates and as such must eat certain types of food in order to balance their metabolic rate. For example a slow oxidiser would digest and absorb nutrients from the food they ingest at a much lower rate than a fast oxidiser, as such they would need to consume more carbohydrates (as opposed to fats and proteins) in order to increase their metabolism. Conversely, fast oxidisers would need to consume more protein and fat type foods in order to slow the rate of metabolism.

The Metabolic Typing® diet is based on the principle of ‘biochemical individuality’ and attempts to identify a person’s unique dietary requirements based on their genetics and biochemical makeup. The diet requires individuals to complete a questionnaire which asks a multitude of questions relating to mood, energy levels, eating patterns, timings and cravings before and after food ingestion. The questionnaire will then determine whether you are a protein, carbohydrate or mixed ‘type’ in relation to your metabolic characteristics and tendencies.

Protein types are fast oxidisers of parasympathetic dominance. They tend to be frequently hungry, crave fatty, salty foods, fail with low-calorie diets, and often suffer with fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness. They are often lethargic or feel “wired”, “on edge”, with superficial energy while being tired underneath.

Carbohydrate types are slow oxidisers of sympathetic dominance. They generally have relatively weak appetites, a high tolerance for sweets, difficulty with weight management, “a type A” personalities, and are often over-rely on caffeine.

Mixed types are neither fast or slow oxidisers, and are neither parasympathetic nor sympathetic dominance. They usually have average appetites, cravings for sweets and starchy foods, relatively little trouble with weight control, and display moderate levels of fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness.

The guidelines for the diet are relatively simple once you have determined what your metabolic type is. Followers of the diet should aim to consume substantially more of their nutrients from their classified type, for example:

Protein types should seek to consume around 45% their daily energy from protein type foods like meats, nuts, fish and dairy.

Carbohydrate types should aim to consume as many as 70% of their daily energy from carbohydrate sources including starch, pasta, rice and grains.

Mixed types should endeavour to consume around 50% of their daily energy from carbohydrates, 40% from proteins and around 10% from fats.

Clearly the ‘Metabolic Type’ ® guidelines conflict with the national UK guidelines for health eating which suggest that everyone, regardless of metabolic type, gender or genetics should consume around 55-60% of their energy from carbohydrate sources, 25-30% from fats and 10-15% from proteins. If the principles upon which Metabolic Typing is based hold true, literally millions people throughout the country are eating the wrong foods for their Metabolic Type. Could this be the missing link to explain why inactivity, weight management issues, depression, chronic fatigue and disease levels are soaring?

If you are a Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer wanting to know more about this diet and how to use it with your clients, you may want to take a look at the following two books:

Wallcott, W. The Metabolic Typing Diet

Check, P. How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy


Lee Cain

Lee Cain

Writer, Tutor and Experienced Fitness Professional

Lee has over 20 years’ experience in the health and fitness industry and has performed multiple roles, including physical training instructor, strength and conditioning coach, lecturer, writer, tutor, assessor and verifier for vocational qualifications. He has a passion for all things exercise, with his key specialisms being strength and performance-based training.

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