How to Determine Your Body’s Metabolic Type

Posted on February 23, 2010

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Every part of our body is unique – starting from how we look to our character. Do you know that our metabolic types are also unique? The way your body digests foods, absorbs it, and creates energy from it is unique.

You can determine your body’s metabolic type by simply “listening to our body” – by paying very close attention to how our body reacts to the different foods that we eat everyday. In particular, you have to pay very close attention to how our body feels up to 2 hours after we’ve finished eating.

If you feel sleepy within 30 – 60 minutes after a meal, it means two things – first, it may be that you are eating the wrong type/s of food, and, secondly, it may be that you’ve overeaten!

For the first reason – which is that you may be eating the wrong type/s of foods, the reason why we feel sleepy within 30 – 60 minutes after a meal could be because we just ate too much foods with refined carbohydrates (foods such as breads, pastries, pasta, cakes, soft drinks). However, you can also have the same effect if you were to eat foods that are either protein-rich, or fatty foods.

Different people have different metabolic types – therefore, when one person can lose weight by eating a protein diet, it doesn’t mean that the same applies to you as well – you might, in fact, gain weight by following his dietary plan!

Therefore, you should figure out your own metabolic type and from there, choose the foods that will fit your body’s metabolic type.

Jun Yuan Lim


Determining Your Metabolic Type

Half the battle with healthy eating is learning the type of foods that are right for you. While one person may feel great on one type of diet, another is going to feel horribly unwell. Nutrition is really a learning progress as you progress through life and if you pay attention to the foods you are eating and how they affect your energy levels, body weight and mental focus you can, over time, develop a diet that works optimally for you. Additionally, once you find this diet, chances are that you won’t really even need to try to lose weight any more as you will feel good while on it and the weight will come off naturally.

Generally there are going to be two main groups of people, those who have efficient metabolisms and those who are inefficient. Those who are more on the efficient side of things generally tend to expend less energy than those who are efficient. Basically their body is efficient at using the energy it is given to complete what it needs to do (fuel your activities). Because of this efficiency, any additional energy you provide is more likely to get turned into body fat. These types of people therefore put on weight easier and usually have slightly higher levels of body fat naturally. They are also much more likely to add adipose fat tissue rather than visceral. Adipose fat tissue refers to tissue that is on the outside of the organs, just under the skin. Visceral on the other hand sits deep to the organs and is what often causes the belly to protrude outwards, even though there does not appear to be a lot of excess fat you can pinch on the outside. Efficient metabolic individuals also often have a reduced heart rate and lower blood pressure.

Individuals with an inefficient metabolism on the other hand expend a great deal of energy just as heat every day. They likely are the types who always seem to be moving, be it jiggling their legs, tapping their fingers or just walking around. Their general stature is thinner and most tend to be taller, however this is not a rule. Some may carry around a fair amount of muscle mass, depending on how well they are able to handle the fact that they expend a great deal more calories.

When looking at diets for specific individuals, efficient metabolisms are usually ones who will work best on a low carb/high fat, moderate protein diet. These people tend to be quite insulin sensitive, which is one reason why they are more often overweight. Whenever they eat a large amount of carbohydrates, their body is going to release a great deal of the hormone insulin, which has the job to take these nutrients up into the body and either use them for fuel or store them as body fat. Because of this, they may have widely fluctuating blood sugar levels and find themselves with a large amount of energy right after eating carbohydrate rich foods but then crashing shortly afterwards. When they eat foods higher in fat though, their blood sugar level remains stable and they have a more moderate energy level that is ongoing for a lengthy period of time.

Inefficient metabolic people are on the opposite end of the spectrum and feel great on a carbohydrate rich diet. They have an endless supply of energy and feel strong and alert. Efficient people will want a nap after a plate of pasta, inefficient will want to run a marathon. Those with inefficient metabolisms are insulin resistant and do not release as much insulin after eating a larger carbohydrate meal. They will feel fine for a greater period as they do not experience the blood sugar level crashing that efficient individuals do. These people naturally seem to have more energy as well as their SNS (sympathetic nervous system) output is higher.

So how can you tell which group you are in? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

How do you feel after eating a really high sugar meal?

Again with the carbohydrates, high sugar meals and high starch meals tend to act slightly different in people with efficient metabolism. While after the starchy meal they want to sleep, after a high sugar meal they feel very energetic (the sugar is being released into their blood stream) but then thirty minutes later they crash and feel irritable, hungry and often times shaky. This is due to the hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) they experience after the insulin has taken care of all the sugar in the blood.

How do you feel after eating a very starchy carbohydrate rich meal?

If you feel tired and sluggish after eating a very starchy meal such as a large plate of pasta, rice or potatoes, you likely are going to fall under the efficient type of metabolism. Many individuals who discover in life that they do not respond well to carbs, have found that before they adopted a different approach, afternoon naps (or the desire for an afternoon naps) were quite frequent. This usually hit them after they had a typical lunchtime meal – pasta salad, sandwich, or something of the like. Once they start eating a different midday meal, for instance grilled fish with salad and olive oil dressing, they find their desire for a nap is completely eliminated.

How do you feel after a high fat meal?

Those with inefficient metabolism actually will not tolerate high fat meals that well and they will make them feel rather tired and sluggish. These people are pretty much opposite the efficient types when it comes to determining what type of food they should be consuming.

Creating Your Diet

To create a diet based on the information given, all individuals will want to start their diet out with about one to one and a half grams of protein per pound of body weight. After that, you will start playing around with the carbohydrate and fat macronutrients to find what works best for you. Efficient people should try and consume carbohydrates right before and after exercise as this is when their body is going to be able to handle them the best. Then the remainder of their meals should predominately focused on protein and fat. Creating a diet for this type is slightly more difficult because you want to avoid carbohydrates as much as possible but still provide enough so that when they are exercising they have enough energy. Since carbohydrates are really the only form of energy that the body can use for intense activities, they must be supplied in the diet at some point if you hope to include this type of exercise in your program.

On the other hand, inefficient people will again have the same protein requirement but will want to bring their fat levels down to about 15-20% of their total calories (while the others will likely be at 40-60% of total calories coming from fat). It is essential that these people do not cut out fat entirely from their diets as a certain amount is required for proper hormone functioning and they should also ensure that they are getting at least 6 grams of fish oil per day (all individuals should be taking this as fish oil is THE supplement when it comes to good health).

On a side note it may seem ‘unhealthy’ for the efficient people to even contemplate consuming 40-60% of their total calories in fat, but realize that so long as they are adding healthy fats here it really should not be that big of an issue. Their body will respond much better to this than if it was switched with carbohydrates.

So when looking at your diet, not only for weight loss but for improvements in how you feel in general, consider those factors. You may have to adjust according to how your real life experience is but it can definitely be remarkable how small changes in ones diet can really affect how you feel.

Shannon Clark


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