Nutritional Typing: Modify Your Diet So You Feel Terrific

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February 26, 2003 | 1,002,188 views

Story at-a-glance

  • A key guide to determine whether or not you’re eating a diet that is correct for you nutritional type is that such a meal should produce marked and lasting improvement in your energy, your mental capacities, your emotional well-being, and leave you feeling well-satisfied for several hours
  • Hunger after eating, sweet cravings, poor energy levels, nervousness, irritability, or depression are all signs of a diet that is not providing the proper fuel for your nutritional type
  • The three general nutritional types are: protein, carbohydrate, and mixed type. Each needs ALL the same food groups (carbs, protein, and fat), but in varying ratios

By Dr. Mercola

Generally speaking, eating a meal that is right for your Nutritional Type™ should produce marked and lasting improvement in your energy, your mental capacities, and your emotional well-being, and leave you feeling well-satisfied for several hours.

If you are already feeling good, eating should, at the very least, help to maintain your energy level. But if you feel worse in some way an hour or so after eating, such as:

  • You still feel hungry even though you are physically full
  • You develop a sweet craving
  • Your energy level drops
  • You feel hyper, nervous, angry, or irritable
  • You feel depressed

... then it might be due to an improper combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates at your last meal. You might be eating the perfect foods for your metabolism, but having too much of one type of food in place of another can easily produce the symptoms listed above.

Everyone Has Their Own Unique Nutritional Type™

Many people come to my office eating very high-quality nutritious foods and are still quite sick. They haven't touched sugar or junk food in ages and still suffer with many health problems. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the major physical ones is related to the fact that they are not eating appropriate foods for their Nutritional Type™.

If you are interested in truly optimizing your health, your weight, and your energy -- and in avoiding premature aging -- one of the most important steps you should take is to learn your Nutritional Type™ and eat according to it. What may be very healthy for others is not necessarily as healthy for you, and vice-versa, and eating according to your Nutritional Type™ is really the only way to ascertain what is really good for you. This requires more dedication and self-awareness than most diets, but it's the best way to truly determine your ideal diet.

To get full details on this essential principle and to assess your nutritional type, I highly encourage you to read my book, Take Control of Your Health. The book includes the means to learn and understand your own Nutritional Type™ and gear your diet precisely toward the foods that are right for you. Determining your Nutritional Type™ is one step in my optimized nutrition plan.

You will learn the right (and wrong) foods to fight and prevent disease and improve the way you feel--physically and emotionally. To get more of a general idea of Nutritional Typing™, though, consider the following analogy.

Simple Fuel Analogy

Just as food is fuel for our bodies, gas is food for our cars. Imagine for a moment that you have pulled into an exclusive gas station that has secured the highest-quality gasoline from one of the world's leading refineries; gas that has been screened carefully and shown to be free of anything that would possibly harm your car's engine.

It would seem reasonable to believe that your car is going to thrive on that high-quality gas once you put it in your tank. But what if you were driving a diesel-powered vehicle? If that were the case, in a few minutes your car would stop running, and you would have a very expensive repair job ahead of you.

The fact that the car stopped running does not imply that the gas wasn't any good or that your car was defective. It was simply the wrong type of fuel for your car.

Like your car, your body was designed for a certain type of fuel that is, a certain blend or ratio of food types. The further you deviate from this ideal, the more health problems are likely to arise. That is why some of the sickest people I see in my practice are those who are "designed" to be eating high-proteins foods but have decided to be vegetarians. Conversely, carb types who choose to eat high amounts of meats also don't do very well.

Different Nutritional Types™

You will learn that you belong to one of three general types:

  • Protein
  • Carb
  • Mixed

Protein types do better on low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-fat diets. A typical ratio might be 40 percent protein and 30 percent each of fats and carbohydrates, but the amounts could easily shift to 50 percent fats and as little as 10 percent carbohydrates depending on individual genetic requirements.

Carb types normally feel best when the majority of their food is carbohydrate. However, just as we only have one word for snow while the Eskimos have many more, we only have one word for carbs while there are actually different types. There is a major difference between vegetables, grains, and starches, yet they are all referenced as "carbs."

Not All Carbs are Created Equal

While this is technically correct, if one doesn't understand the practical distinction between grains and vegetables, one is likely headed for a health disaster. It is important to remember that more than two-thirds of Americans have excess weight or obesity and nearly every one of these individuals needs to lower their insulin levels.

Additionally, most people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes also struggle with elevated insulin levels that respond quite well to grain restriction.

So what nearly all of these people--likely over 85 percent of the U.S. population -- will benefit from is not a low-carb diet (the Atkins Diet), but the grain-free diet outlined in detail in my book.

If you are a Carb Nutritional Type™, you will require about 60 percent of your food as carbs, 25 percent protein, and 15 percent fat, but this type may need as little as 10 percent fat and as high as 80 percent carbs in exceptional times. If you followed an Atkins Diet you might improve initially but eventually your system would break down because it required far more carbohydrate.

Once a person attains a normal weight and does not struggle with other insulin related disorders, it is possible to consume some grains and/or starch and remain perfectly healthy. Carb types actually can do quite well with grains, but remember this is likely to only be about 15 percent of the population at best.

If your Nutritional Type™ is mixed, your requirements are between the carb and protein types. This is actually the most challenging type to have as ultimately you will have to rely quite heavily on developing your own feedback by answering the questions after every meal.

Don't stress out about the percentages; they are only rough guidelines. Even if they needed to be precise, you wouldn't take the time or make the effort to eat exact percentages of foods every single time you ate, especially for the rest of your life.

Additionally, your activity and stress levels will affect and alter the quantity of food, as well as the ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, you need to feel your best.

Last, there is also a circadian rhythm to account for. Your biochemistry moves through various phases throughout the day. These rhythms involve your hormonal output, your acid/alkaline shifts, your waking/sleeping times and many other time-based variables. While some people will have a need for the same ratios of protein, fat and carbs at each meal, others will discover that they need very different ratios at the different meals in order to derive optimum energy, well being and performance.

The Controversy Surrounding 'Safe Starches'

Dr. Paul Jaminet — an astrophysicist from MIT and Berkeley with a strong interest in health and diet that began after he experienced personal health challenges - has suggested that carbohydrates from starches such as potatoes and cooked rice are healthful 'safe starches' that, if completely avoided, can lead to "glucose deficiency."

Dr. Ron Rosedale, MD, who is well-known for his knowledge and treatment of diet-related disorders such as diabetes, disagrees. According to Dr. Rosedale, all sugars and foods that convert into sugar will have a detrimental effect if eaten. He argues that while a daily bowl of rice's worth of carbohydrates may seem like a small amount, it may still make a big difference in terms of your health, especially for those with diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

As I see it, this is really a non-issue for most people as they will not even get close to Dr. Jaminet's suggestion of reducing carb calories from the standard 50 percent that most people consume, to 20 30 percent of total calories from carbs. The key is to replace the carbs with healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, egg yolks, raw grass fed organic butter, olives and nuts. You would not want to use highly processed and genetically engineered omega-6 oils like corn, canola and soy as they will upset your omega-6/3 ratio. Of course you want to avoid all trans fats, but contrary to popular advice, saturated fats can be very good for you.

I believe that Dr. Jaminet's diet, as outlined in his book, Perfect Health Diet, can indeed improve your health and is something most people would notice health benefits from. I like the fact that he is constantly evolving and modifying and willing to carefully corroborate his recommendations with the literature.

But if you are interested in exploring using diet to extend your lifespan, then Dr. Rosedale's diet, which is even more carb-restrictive, has been shown to mimic the biological effects of calorie restriction, which most notably includes an extended life span, as revealed by researchers such as Cynthia Kenyon – without actually cutting calories per se.

Well, you will find the program, outlined in detail in my book, is really quite simple and straightforward. In general, you first start by eating the proportions of proteins, fats, and carbs according to your taste and appetite.

Next, analyze your reactions to your meal and discover how well you did in selecting the right ratios for yourself. A table to help you do this is provided below so you can take a look, and this table is also included in the book.

Finally, if you did not react optimally to your meal, change the ratios the next time you eat that meal and again analyze your reactions. In this way you can fine-tune each meal to the ratios of proteins, fats and carbs that are just right for you.

As an example of how the ratios can make a difference, I used to have a salad with some meat in it for lunch. However, several hours later I would feel absolutely famished, and I could not make it through the afternoon without strong food cravings. Then I realized I needed far more fat in my diet, in my case about 40 percent. Once I increased my fat intake my cravings disappeared.

Remember that you should feel terrific one hour after you eat. If you are still having food cravings or your energy level is lower, these are giant clues that you are likely not eating appropriately for your Nutritional Type™.