Voices in Balance // One size “does not fit all

Nothing is more confusing than diet and nutrition advice. Low-fat, high-protein, low-carb, Paleo, Primal, South Beach, the list is endless. It’s no wonder we are on a continuous roller coaster of fad-diet after fad-diet, quick cleanses, and detoxes, all with the same results: we end up right where we were at the start. 

What if I were to tell you that all of these diets were right and wrong in their approach to health and weight management? Confused? Well it’s much simpler than you have been lead to believe.

Dieting and diet books are big business; to the tune of more than $55 billion a year! So it goes without saying that your success is bad business for the writers and fad diet creators. Who would buy diet books and pills if everyone was healthy and met their goals?

So what is the answer to all this madness? Well it all comes down to a concept called “bio-chemical individuality” which, simply stated, means that each of us is unique at the cellular level. This in turn dictates the way in which we metabolize nutrients and in the type of foods and food ratios that we need to thrive and be healthy. How many people do you know lost weight, felt great, and had tons of energy on the Atkins diet? While others felt worse, gained weight and had low energy? The same can be said about low-fat, higher carbohydrate diets.  Some people do really well on that type of diet, some people just do not.

The concept of Metabolic Typing addresses this exact issue. Metabolic Typing uses a detailed, comprehensive questionnaire which looks at physical traits, behavioral patterns and food tendencies to determine your unique nutrient needs. Based on this questionnaire you may fall into any of six different  “metabolic types,” ranging from a Protein Type (needing more fats and proteins and lower carbohydrates) to a Carbohydrate Type (needing lower ratios of fats and proteins and higher carbohydrates). Armed with these tools you can begin to fine tune your diet to achieve optimal health, reduce cravings and normalize your weight.

Let’s look at a couple more examples. The typical diet of native Inuit, or Eskimos as we call them, traditionally consist of nearly 75 percent of their daily energy intake from saturated, animal fat, and yet western disease such as heart disease and high cholesterol are non-existent in their people. On the other hand, native Kuna people of Central and South America live on a diet primarily of starchy vegetables, fruits and some fish. What do you think would happen if their diets were switched? Essentially that is what is happening in America right now. Instead of a variety of diets fitting the unique individual, we are trying to fit a large group of individuals into one diet. Suffice to say, this is not working.

Metabolic Typing acknowledges that we are all unique and need different nutrients to function optimally. It is a tool for creating awareness of how different foods affect us. With Metabolic Typing our awareness of eating and diet goes beyond just weight gain or weight loss, but turns our attention toward our moods, our digestion, our mental clarity and our energy levels. Eating should leave you feeling satisfied, energized physically and mentally, without cravings, and you should be able to comfortably last until your next meal (three to four hours later). Also, experiencing gas, bloating or intestinal distress is not part of a normal eating cycle, for anyone. If all of these categories are not met chances are that you are not eating either the correct ratio of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, or you are eating improper foods for your body.

Some of the ways you can begin connecting to your own personal diet is by practicing a deeper awareness with how food affects you. Pay close attention to how you feel immediately after a meal, an hour after a meal and three hours after a meal. Check in with your own sleep patterns. Are you able to sleep through the night? Are you able to fall asleep easily? And are you able to wake up feeling refreshed? Believe it or not, what foods you consumed during the day will affect your sleep patterns. And finally, start to pay attention to your mental clarity during the day. Are you able to stay focused? Do you crash and burn in the afternoon?  Are you in general, able to think clearly throughout the day?

If through your own self-inquiry you suspect that some of the foods you are consuming are causing imbalance consider taking them out for seven to 14 days, always re-examining your life patterns. Journaling or jotting down your findings can help you with gathering insights into your eating.

Keep in mind, there is no one right way to eat for everyone. As you become bombarded with media’s constant messages of “EAT THIS”, “DON”T EAT THAT” consider we are all different people with different needs. For your further in-depth exploration, Metabolic Typing just might be the missing link in your journey.

Chris Pietrzak-Wegner is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, CHEK Institute Level I holistic lifestyle coach, and certified metabolic typing advisor. Reach him at metalandearth@hotmail.com and visit his website at metalandearth.com.