From workouts to how well you respond to certain medications, health is becoming personalised – and that includes your diet.
This is where metabolic typing comes in. The concept that we all digest and metabolise food differently based on our genes first made headlines in the late 70s when William Wolcott, a metabolic researcher, discovered a relationship between the body’s oxidative system (which determines how quickly your body converts food into energy) and the autonomic nervous system (which regulates involuntary actions). In most people, one ‘system’ is more dominant.
Eating for your metabolic type
There are six metabolic types in total: parasympathetic, autonomic balanced, sympathetic, slow oxidiser, mixed oxidiser and fast oxidiser.
The proportion of protein, carbohydrates and fats, as well as specific foods you’re advised to eat, depends on what type you are.
“On the other hand, slow oxidisers do best on just a small amount of protein but plenty of fruit and vegetables. We don’t ‘ban’ whole food groups, but it is a matter of eating the right mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats to suit your metabolic type.”
Still, Elizabeth says some of the diets can seem restrictive.
“Compared to the picture we all have of a ‘healthy diet’, some of the diets can seem quite unbalanced. But the thing to remember is that everyone also has a subtype, so after you’ve incorporated the main dietary advice, most people can start to introduce small amounts of other foods, if they like, which makes the diets less restrictive and more balanced.”
But each type does have one or two foods that they’re advised not to eat. “For example, fast oxidisers shouldn’t touch soy products – they just don’t do well on them,” says Elizabeth.
What are the benefits?
When you’re eating the right food for your metabolic type, you’ll feel and function better, says Elizabeth, thanks to the way different foods affect the pH of your body. Some reported benefits include increased energy levels, better mood and a stronger immune system.
“The benefit of balancing your pH is particularly noticeable for people who, without knowing it, are eating very differently to what their metabolic type actually needs or who aren’t in the best health to start with.”
Weight loss can also be an added benefit.
“Generally, it tends to be slow, gradual weight loss – once you’re eating the right food for your type, your body metabolises the food you feed it more efficiently and weight loss can result from that.”
You need an assessment by a metabolic typing practitioner to find out which metabolic type (and subtype) you are, but your answers to these questions will give you a few clues.