How can this be?
The reason is actually very obvious, but perhaps the answer isn’t as appealing or as marketable as being able to say, “Hey! Listen to me, I’ve found the IDEAL diet. Just eat x, y and z.”
No, the truth is, everyone is biochemically different.
Just as we have unique fingerprints, our bodies function best on different mixtures of fat, carbohydrates and proteins.
What works for one person, may not help a second and can actually make a third worse! Many of the bestselling books are full of stories and testimonials of people who found the diet that worked for them.
You don’t get to hear about the other 30-50% who never benefited, or even felt worse on the diet.
So how do you work out what the right mix of proteins, fats and carbohydrates is for you?
There are many ways to personalize diets based on numerous types of popular dietary typing methods.
For example the blood type diet relies on research of certain types of allergies common in type A, AB and O blood types.
Other common “typing diets” include those based on Ayurvedic medicine (vata, pitta, kapha etc), Traditional Chinese Medicine (based on sweet, sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, salty, warming and cooling foods) , endocrine typing (ovarian, thyroid, adrenal or pituitary types) and overall metabolic balance such as being in a chronic catabolic or anabolic state.
One of the most important diet typing methods I came across is based on working out your protein versus carbohydrate level based on your “metabolic type”.
This work was undertaken by William Walcott who wrote the book on Metabolic Typing – which I recommend HERE.
Both of us had cut out processed and refined foods of all kinds. I, however had been on a 100% raw food diet for the previous six months, and Alex had switched from being a vegetarian to eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, consisting of lots of meat and fish.
On the raw food diet, I had amazing energy, and never got headaches; my skin was bright, clear and shiny and I never got indigestion and was never ill. It had taken some two years to make the transition to a 100% raw food diet, without going through detoxification symptoms.
Alex had just recovered from seven years of illness from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME and had found to his great surprise, that switching away from vegetarianism had given him much better, more stable energy levels.
Sticking to very little starchy carbohydrate and eating protein at every meal, Alex insisted that his sugar cravings had disappeared, his weight was stable, and most importantly, that he no longer experienced energy dips, dizziness or “head fog”, associated with low blood sugar levels.
Over the next few months, after numerous “heated debates” we both experimented, adding more foods from the others diet, so I began eating fish again, and Alex starting juicing raw vegetables.
I found that my strength and stamina improved to an even greater extent, and increasingly began to experience the more stable energy levels Alex had talked about.
When Alex started juicing and eating a much higher proportion of vegetables, his energy, which was already stable, became consistently higher overall. What we came to conclude was that we were both on to “partial truths”.
We were both right if you like.
What to eat?
Between the two of us, we have read thousands of books on health and nutrition, embraced and studied the work of many other health and nutritional experts, and spent years experimenting with our own diets.
I (Niki) have also worked with thousands of while I was Director of Nutrition at the clinic for 5 years.
We have come to the conclusion that a basic optimally healthy diet must consist of:
- Plenty of living raw foods (fruit and vegetables)
- Organic unprocessed and unrefined foods
- Good quality protein from animal, fish or vegetarian sources
- Good sources of omega 3, 6, 9 and saturated fats
However, what differs between people is the proportion of proteins and fats versus carbohydrates that they need for a balanced diet.
Although Alex and I both eat almost the same kinds of foods now, Alex is a “Protein Type” so he needs to eat up to 50-70% of daily calories from protein and fats. I, on the other hand, am a “carbohydrate type”, and can eat up to 60% of carbohydrates, and only 30% protein and 10% fats.
The Metabolic Types
There are broadly three “Metabolic Types”:
- “Protein Types”
- “Carb Types”
- Balanced Types
Protein Types tend to fare better on higher protein and fat diets. This is a more “Paleo” type diet approach. Protein Types are not suited to being vegetarians. They tend to need animal sources of protein at every meal. They also need to eat three meals per day, and would get jittery, depressed, faint or irritable if they missed a meal. Protein Types are carnivorous and tend to cope badly on grains. Typically, the worst meal for them is a large plate of pasta and tomato sauce; they would feel hungry immediately after eating this kind of meal!
Carbohydrate types tend to fare better on lower levels of protein and fat. Excessive protein and fat at a meal can make them feel tired and lethargic. They are better at becoming vegetarians if they so choose, but also do well on lighter meat and fish, for example chicken and white fish. Carbohydrate types can miss a meal and not notice it at all; they can forget to eat, which would be unthinkable for Protein Types.
The balanced type can eat the most variety of food because they do well on higher protein and fat meals, as well as the lower fat and protein ones. Basically what they eat doesn’t make too much difference to how they feel. They are classic omnivores, able to eat from a whole range of foods. They can miss a meal, but will feel it more than carbohydrate types.
How do I work Out my Metabolic Type?
Have a read of this handout and keep a food diary for a while to find out exactly what your ratio of protein versus carbohydrate should be: Adjusting Dietary Ratios