Body & Fitness

Which metabolic type are you?

Different people metabolise foods in different ways - so we need to know what balance of food groups suits us best.
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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 seventies 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.

“I became interested in metabolic typing when I realised I wasn’t getting results with around 50 per cent of my clients by following accepted dietary guidelines,” says Elizabeth Orme, a nutritionist and metabolic typing practitioner.

“And I was fascinated why some people could experience reduced cholesterol levels while still eating a lot of meat and dairy. It made me look for something that took the view that different people metabolise foods differently.”

Eating for your metabolic type

There are six metabolic types in total; they’re known as 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.

“So, if you’re a fast oxidiser, we advise eating a high-protein, high healthy-fat diet but not too many fruits and vegetables,” says Orme.

“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, Orme 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 Orme.

What’s the benefit?

When you’re eating the right food for your metabolic type, you’ll feel and function better, says Orme, 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.”

A certified metabolic typing practitioner will ask you to complete a professional, online questionnaire.

“Until around 2006, many practitioners worked out your type by putting you through two to three hours of clinical testing,” says Orme. “Now, the questionnaire has been shown to be just as effective at determining metabolic types.”

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.

Take the metabolic quiz

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