The metabolic typing diet is largely based on the idea that metabolism (processes used by the body to convert food to energy), like digesting food and breathing, is different for everyone. The metabolic typing diet was introduced in 2001 as a weight loss plan after Trish Fahey, a science writer and researcher William Walcott published the book “The Metabolic Typing Diet.” William Wolcott is considered a reputed specialist in metabolic typing and a leader in metabolic research.[i]
The idea of metabolic typing was invented back in the 1930s after Weston Price, a leading Canadian dentist, started traveling across the globe to investigate the relationship between chronic degenerative diseases and modern eating habits. The dentist found no single diet that was perfect for everyone because of variation in culture, genetics, heredity, environmental conditions, local produce, and climate.
In later years, researchers William Kelley[ii] , Roger William[iii] , and George Watson[iv] continued to study this concept. As outlined in “metabolic typing diet,” the research ultimately results in a theory that a person’s metabolism varied because of two crucial factors impacted by heredity[v], including the cellular oxidation rate and the autonomic nervous system dominance.
Metabolic typing diets’ major highlight is that there is no single eating plan that works for everyone. It suggests that individuals should be divided into three different metabolic types, and they should eat according to these types.
What You Can Eat
The metabolic typing diet book provides a troubleshooting test to assist users in identifying their metabolic type. Also, for a more precise diagnosis, a qualified health provider can provide a rigorous evaluation that might include blood and urine tests. The results of this test will show where you fall in any of the three metabolic types:
- Protein – The protein types are parasympathetic dominant or fast oxidizers. These people tend to be regularly hungry, crave salty and fatty foods, fail with low-calorie diets, and lean more towards nervousness, anxiety, and fatigue. They are frequently lethargic and often feel on edge or wired with superficial energy and feel tired underneath.
- Carbo – The carbo types are sympathetic dominant or slow oxidizers. They have a high tolerance for sweet things, weak appetites, and issues with weight management and “type A” personalities. These people are highly dependent on caffeine.
- Mixed – The mixed types category are people that are neither slow nor fast oxidizers nor are neither sympathetic nor parasympathetic dominate. They have average cravings for starchy foods and sweets and have moderate appetites, few problems with weight management, and lean towards nervousness, anxiety, and fatigue.
- Each of the above-mentioned metabolic types has unique recommendations for macronutrient ratios and the differences for suggested foods. Let’s take a look at the rations for these three metabolic types and what you should eat on every plan.
This diet type is evocative of the Atkins diet based on the phase you’re in. It only allows for approximately 20 grams to 100 grams of net carbs. The protein-rich group should eat lots of protein in each meal, targeting the macronutrient ratio of 30% carbohydrates, 30% fats, and 40% proteins. Some nutrition experts think this is too much fat and protein for some people.
This metabolic typing diet group requires diets rich in carbs and low oils, fats, and protein. The carbohydrate type allows for about 60% carbohydrates and approximately 20% of both protein and fats. The carbo type shares many similarities with the Ornish diet since it’s lower in fat and high in carbs.
The mixed type shares many similarities with the zone diet because it’s lower in carbohydrates. This eating plan requires equal ratios of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Some nutrition experts still believe it’s too high in fat and protein.
What You Cannot Eat
All three types of metabolic typing diet restrict added sugars and refined carbohydrates.
Refined carbohydrates aren’t allowed in this diet, so you should not eat pasta or bread made from white flour.
Added sugars and sweeteners aren’t allowed on the metabolic typing diet.
Alcohol and caffeine
People following the metabolic typing diet should keep off alcohol. However, if you must, drink small amounts of red wine, probably a glass after dinner. Also, there is no problem using wine for cooking. Women should consume less than one serving every day, and men could have a maximum of 2 servings every day.
Does the Metabolic Typing Diet Aid Weight Loss?
The metabolic typing diet emphasizes nutrient-dense foods such as plant-based proteins, vegetables, and fruits, making it a perfect option if you want to lose weight.[vi] A study involving 74 people with diabetes, following the vegetarian diet for six months was significantly more effective than the low-calorie diet in promoting fast fat loss.[vii]
Another study showed that switching to a diet that encourages more vegetables might help weight loss. However, it’s important to note that the proponents of the metabolic typing diet don’t promise any fast weight loss results. However, the fact that knowing your metabolic type helps you understand the foods you should eat to improve metabolism and burn fat. It’s highly likely that if you continue following this diet for a while, you’ll eventually lose weight.
What Are The Rules Of The Metabolic Typing Diet?
The most important thing you must do while following the metabolic typing diet is to discover your metabolic type and eat to suit it. In doing so, you’ll improve your body’s metabolism and so, your body will be able to burn fat much faster and eventually lose weight quickly. According to the proponents of the diet, following it will help prevent cravings, depression, headaches, and digestive problems, strengthen your immunity, reverse disease and boost energy levels.
Following are some of the rules of the metabolic typing diet based on your metabolic typing diet:
- Carbo types should include proteins in all their meals
- Should focus on low purine proteins like white meat chicken and turkey and lighter fish such as flounder, sole, perch, and haddock.
- Stick to low-fat dairy products
- Eat plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars.
- Eat foods rich in purine proteins and oils like dark meat, poultry, beef, organ meats, and seafood, including mussels, herring, tuna, and salmon.
- Consume fats like whole milk cheese, cream, whole milk, and eggs.
- Eat complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains.
Possible Health Benefits
Unlike other commercial diets, the metabolic typing diet considers a person’s metabolism, dietary needs, and preferences. All three types of metabolic typing diet suggest restricting refined carbohydrates, a healthier option because the foods are high in calories but lack minerals and vitamins and might lead to high blood sugar levels.
Although following the recommended metabolic typing diet might help make healthy lifestyle and dietary changes to aid weight loss, remember there is no evidence supporting their claims. For example, a study conducted in 2008 compared the results of the metabolic diet survey with metabolism laboratory tests but showed that it didn’t correctly reflect the actual metabolic processes in a practical way. Some health benefits of the metabolic typing diet include:
Low In Unhealthy Fats
The metabolic typing diet discourages unhealthy fats. While the fat content in the diet is pretty low, it completely excludes saturated fat and trans fats. Although some saturated fat is allowed under the USDA guidelines, you should be it to the lowest possible limits.
Emphasize Healthy Foods
With the metabolic typing diet, you will eat lots of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. There are many healthy foods that most people find challenging to get enough of. Whole grains are high in valuable nutrients than refined carbohydrates and are an excellent option for minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
The approved foods in the metabolic typing diet are readily available in grocery stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores. If you would like a wide variety of seeds, nuts, and grains, you might have to visit your local health food store to get these items. Remember, this isn’t an exclusive shopping list, so if you choose to follow the metabolic typing diet, you might find other types of foods that suit your preferences and tastes.
Following are some of the food items you should consider including in your shopping cart.
- Dark leafy greens – bok Choy, collard greens, Swiss chard, arugula, kale, spinach
- Vegetables – carrots, eggplant, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli
- Fresh and frozen (apples, bananas, berries, oranges, grapefruit)
- Oils – oils in foods like nuts and seafood and vegetable oil
- Protein foods including soy products, seeds, nuts, lentils, peas, beans, seafood, eggs, poultry, and lean meats
- Whole grains – 12-grain bread, sourdough, brown rice, amaranth, barley, quinoa
- Dairy includes low-fat milk or fat-free milk, cheese, yogurt, lactose-free versions, yogurt, and fortified soy beverages.
- Low-fat dairy products – cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, parmesan, feta cheese
- Healthy fats – olive oil, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, avocados
- High fiber vegetables – carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli
Sample Meal Plan
The metabolic typing diet doesn’t require users to measure portions or count calories. You only have to make sure you eat the approved foods depending on your metabolic type; you can eat as much food as you want. Remember this isn’t an exclusive meal plan, and when following the metabolic typing diet, you might also find other meals, which work better for you based on your Metabolic Typing Diet type. Following are sample meal plans for the three metabolic typing diet types:
- Breakfast – strawberries, roasted potatoes, vegetable frittata, and egg white
- Snack – low-fat granola, peaches, nonfat Greek yogurt
- Lunch – cornbread, green salad, lentil chili
- Snack – hummus, raw vegetables
- Dinner – dark chocolate, roasted asparagus, mushroom lasagna, and whole wheat noddle’s
- Breakfast – nonfat milk, mixed berries, whole grain bread,
- Snack – grapes, whole grain pita bread, green pea guacamole
- Lunch – sweet potato wedges, tomato soup
- Snack – vegetables, Pesto dip
- Dinner – chocolate pudding, steamed vegetables, arugula beet salad
- Breakfast – blueberries, nonfat Greek yogurt, apple spice muffin
- Snack – a green smoothie
- Lunch – coleslaw, bean tacos
- Snack – nonfat yogurt with fruit parfait
- Dinner – pineapple, brown rice, Thai vegetable curry
Following are meal plans for individuals in this category
- Breakfast – high protein shake topped with berries, turkey bacon, egg toast, and avocado
- Lunch – low-fat feta
- Dinner – two cups of Mediterranean chopped salad, four ounces oven-baked salmon
- Breakfast – one serving of egg scramble with green juice
- Lunch – two cups low carb taco salads with cheese and low-fat yogurt
- Dinner – one cup vegan chili and two poblano mushroom tacos
- Breakfast – two eggs and steak with 3-ounce sirloin
- Lunch – peanut butter, banana blueberry
- Dinner – quinoa kale salad and two cups of blood orange, and one serving of harrisa chicken
- Breakfast – one cup blueberries, six scrambled eggs, two teaspoons olive oil
- Snack – ¼ cup cottage cheese, two teaspoons almond butter, celery
- Lunch – grapes, cucumber, lettuce,
- Dinner – thyme, garlic, one tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, mushrooms, and five ounces chicken breast
- Snack – ginger smoothie, celery, mint, apple, and protein powder
Pros And Cons Of The Metabolic Typing Diet
Proponents of this metabolic typing diet appreciate that everyone is different, and we all have unique dietary needs. For this reason, the diet is customized to fit individual needs depending on an individual’s metabolism. Keep in mind that all the three metabolic diet types restrict refined carbohydrates and added sugars and largely recommend keeping simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour to the minimum, which is nutritionally impressive.[viii]
The Metabolic Typing Diet is considered safe since there are no health risks associated with it. As long as you stick to the approved foods, your needs for carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and other nutrients will be met. However, the metabolic typing diets’ health claims are not well supported.
There are no special foods required in the metabolic typing diet, and the compliant foods are locally available. Sometimes they might be costly, but they also cut back on many animal products, hence saving on some butcher costs. Furthermore, there is no food tracking or calorie counting, which might be appealing to some consumers.
Because the metabolic typing diet permits many types of foods, it’s more flexible. Consumers with dietary limits will also find it very simple to adapt. You’ll need to eat approved foods based on your metabolic type, but there is no limit to the amount of food you can eat. Also, you can still eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks in between meals. This makes your meal planning very easy because the combinations of foods you’re required to take are easy to find.
The metabolic typing diet follows general nutrition guidance, which calls for your meals to be mostly carbohydrates, proteins, or a mixture of both based on your metabolic type. Whole foods are stressed, and the metabolic typing diet encourages users to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables. Sugary drinks and refined carbohydrates such as white bread are not recommended.
While the metabolic typing diet restricts the type of food you can eat based on your metabolic type, it doesn’t limit the amount you can eat. Eating whole grains, vegetables and fruits can help keep you satisfied for longer.
Possible Nutrient Deficiencies
The protein type diet is high in protein but lacks other important nutrients such as dietary fiber, which could cause constipation and other health concerns. It’s important to ensure you get adequate nutritional fiber for colonic health. Enough dietary fiber also helps protect against cancer and helps further reduce inflammation.[ix]
Also, too much protein isn’t safe for people with chronic illnesses. People suffering from kidney disease shouldn’t follow the high protein diet without first speaking to a doctor. Your body converts extra protein to glucose for energy, which might raise blood sugar levels in individuals with type II diabetes.[x]
Eating carbo or protein type could take lots of preparation and cooking time. You might also need to learn and get ready to cook differently with no saturated fats or meat. Furthermore, most convenience meals and foods are excluded from this diet.
Is The Metabolic Typing Diet A Healthy Option For You?
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines recommend eating different nutrient-dense foods, including:[xi]
- Oils – oils in food like nuts and seafood, and vegetable oils
- Protein foods – eggs, poultry, lean meats, soy products, seeds, nuts, lentils, and peas
- Grains – especially whole grains
- Whole fruits
- Different types of vegetables – dark leafy greens, orange and red, lentils, peas, beans, and other veggies
The US Department of Agriculture recommends a relatively broad range of macronutrients: 20% to 35% fat, 45% to 65% carbohydrates, and 10% to 35% protein.[xii]
According to the USDA dietary recommendation, the metabolic typing diet protein type program suggests too much fat and protein and lacks enough carbs. On the other hand, the carbo type program suggests 60% carbs, 20% fats, and 20% protein. Finally, the mixed type is high in both fat and protein but lower in carbohydrates.
The USDA guidelines recommend checking your calorie intake to aid in weight loss.[xiii] However, the metabolic typing diet does involve any calorie counting, which is considered a benefit by proponents of the diet. The concept behind this diet is that once you start eating foods that fit your metabolic type, you’ll stop craving unhealthy foods or feeling hungry between meals; hence you don’t have to count calories.
In addition, the nutrition experts still agree that counting calories is the best way to lose weight. An individual calorie intake varies based on activity level, weight, sex, and age. Overall, the three plans in this diet are not balanced, lack scientific evidence, and don’t meet the federal dietary guidelines for a healthy, balanced diet.
How Much Does The Metabolic Typing Diet Cost?
Animal products and fresh vegetables are expensive than most fast and processed foods, so the Metabolic typing diet is typically pricier than the standard American diet, especially for the mixed type. However, if you fall into the category of carbo or protein type, you’ll only have to eat foods high in carbohydrates or proteins, which might cut back on some products, hence bringing down the costs.
How much more you spend while following the metabolic typing diet largely depends on your food choices of protein and carbohydrate sources. Are you purchasing mostly turkey or chicken? Veal or ground beef? New York strip vs. chuck? Buying in season will keep the vegetable tab reasonable.
What is the main health benefit of the metabolic typing diet?
What foods can you eat on the metabolic typing diet?
Is the metabolic typing diet good?
Does the metabolic typing diet work?
What are the side effects of the metabolic typing diet?
Do eggs help boost metabolism?
What fruits increase metabolism?
- [i] Wolcott WL, Fahey T. The Metabolic Typing Diet: Customize Your Diet To: Free Yourself from Food Cravings: Achieve Your Ideal Weight; Enjoy High Energy and Robust Health; Prevent and Reverse Disease. New York: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale; 2008.
- [ii] Kelley WN, Rosenbloom FM, Seegmiller JE. The effects of azathioprine (Imuran) on purine synthesis in clinical disorders of purine metabolism. J Clin Invest. 1967;46(9):1518-1529. doi:10.1172/JCI105643
- [iii] Chen Z, Li Z, Li H, Jiang Y. Metabolomics: a promising diagnostic and therapeutic implement for breast cancer. Onco Targets Ther. 2019;12:6797-6811. doi:10.2147/OTT.S215628
- [iv] Watson G. Differences in intermediary metabolism in mental illness. Psychol Rep. 1965;17(2):563-582. doi:10.2466/pr0.19188.8.131.523
- [v] Wolcott WL, Fahey T. The Metabolic Typing Diet: Customize Your Diet To: Free Yourself from Food Cravings: Achieve Your Ideal Weight; Enjoy High Energy and Robust Health; Prevent and Reverse Disease. New York: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale; 2008.
- [vi] Wolcott WL, Fahey T. The Metabolic Typing Diet: Customize Your Diet To: Free Yourself from Food Cravings: Achieve Your Ideal Weight; Enjoy High Energy and Robust Health; Prevent and Reverse Disease. New York: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale; 2008.
- [vii] Kahleova H, Klementova M, Herynek V, Skoch A, Herynek S, Hill M, Mari A, Pelikanova T. The Effect of a Vegetarian vs Conventional Hypocaloric Diabetic Diet on Thigh Adipose Tissue Distribution in Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017 Jul;36(5):364-369. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2017.1302367. Epub 2017 Jun 10. PMID: 28604251.
- [viii] Clarke D, Edgar D, Higgins S, Braakhuis A. Physiological analysis of the metabolic typing diet in professional rugby union players. NZ J Sports Med. 2008;35(2):42-47.Clarke D, Edgar D, Higgins S, Braakhuis A. Physiological analysis of the metabolic typing diet in professional rugby union players. NZ J Sports Med. 2008;35(2):42-47.
- [ix] American Heart Association. Saturated Fat.
- [x] American Heart Association. Saturated Fat.
- [xi] Kopp W. How western diet and lifestyle drive the pandemic of obesity and civilization diseases. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2019;12:2221-2236. doi:10.2147/DMSO.S216791
- [xii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition. December 2020.
- [xiii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015.
- [xiv] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015.