The Right Diet for Your Metabolism
by Jonny Bowden, MA, CNS
Q: How do I choose the best diet for my particular metabolism and body type?
A: It's a great question and there isn't an easy answer -- in some ways all of us are completely alike; in some ways all of us are slightly different; and in still other ways, each of us is completely unique.
So it is with metabolism. When we speak of "slow" and "fast" metabolic types, we are really referring to the quickness and ease with which our bodies convert food into fuel and nutrients. Many factors come into play when determining what food plan is best for a given individual: genetics, ethnic background, hormone levels, thyroid, food sensitivities and allergies, enzymatic activity, dieting history, degree of insulin insensitivity, amount of body fat, age, and neurotransmitter levels -- and that's before we even begin to talk about psychology, tradition, comfort eating, social eating and even addiction history.
So picking the perfect "system" or "diet" can be a minefield. There are a dozen different methods that purport to be able to recommend the perfect diet according to "type." Of course, supporters of these methods never seem to agree on exactly what the "types" are or how they should be defined. Some systems of body typing, like Aryuvedic medicine, have been around for thousands of years. Some newer methods are very promising but require blood or hair analysis, which isn't practical for many people. Others, like the blood type diet, are pretty flimsy. Still others, like the "body type" diet, are just plain difficult to apply, since so very many people don't fit neatly into any of the categories.
So what's a person to do? To me, starting with the simplest plan makes the best sense. In the case of weight loss and health -- and I see them as very related -- the basics are pretty simple: Protein from the best sources you can find; vegetables, in (mostly) unlimited amounts; high-fiber, low-sugar fruit in moderation; and good quality, naturally occurring, traditional fats like butter, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds.
This diet, known in the research as the "paleolithic" or "caveman" diet , served us well for the vast majority of the 2.5 million years that we and our ancestors have been on the planet. It's what our digestive systems were designed to work best with. Except for those who continue to advocate the "high-carbohydrate/low-fat" diet which is really, historically speaking, the biggest fad diet in history, most of the better writers and thinkers in the field now agree that the closer we can get to the paleolithic ideal, the better. Most of the quibbling is over the details -- how many carbs, what percentage of fat, and so on.
So let me suggest to you that instead of letting yourself be overwhelmed by all the "diets" and "systems" out there, you look instead to what they all have in common and use that for your basic recipe. Luckily, the stuff everyone agrees on can be stated pretty simply: The best things to eat are those that you could have hunted, fished for, gathered, grown or plucked.
In a nutshell, that's a recipe for success that will work well for just about any metabolism and body type.