We all know someone who is allergic to peanuts, or who suffers from lactose intolerance, perhaps even someone with celiac disease. These individuals are a reminder that human beings are unique, and each has a distinctive biochemistry that, while similar in most ways to all others, may also differ in important ways. However, some nutritionists feel that beyond biochemical individuality, it is possible to classify all people into one of three “nutritional types”: carb, protein, and mixed. Furthermore, they suggest that each person achieves maximum health only when the individual adjusts macronutrients in a way consistent with that type.
How does nutritional typing work?
The concept of nutritional typing arose from an older, recycled idea known as metabolic typing. As nutritional understanding has increased, new ideas have been added to the original framework. As a result, some nutritionists now claim that individuals can be classified into one of three nutritional types. The nutritional type can be determined based on a person's answers to questions examining food choices and their effects on satiety, mental state, and post-prandial sensations of wellness. Here are the three nutritional types:
- Carb type — the person who typically fares better on more complex carbs, less protein, and fat
- Protein type — the person who performs optimally on reduced carbs, fatty meats (and healthy fats), and increased protein
- Mixed type — the person who falls between the other two types and shares the qualities of each, to greater or lesser degree
Once test results are analyzed, the individual is given a diet plan specialized to the determined nutritional type. The plan makes recommendations for “macros” — proteins, carbs, and fats — and also lifestyle, even beneficial supplements. For example, if you were a “carb type” you would be instructed to eliminate all gluten for the first two months, sharply decrease natural fructose in your diet, and limit bean intake.
Critics of nutritional typing may argue against it because less than 1% of the population has outright gluten intolerance, fruits contain beneficial antioxidants, and beans have soluble fiber, resistant starch, protein, and are mineral-rich. So, what gives…?
What should we take from nutritional typing, what should we leave?
Nutritional typing began from a perspective of sound observations, then began to deviate somewhere along the way. The first problem is with the tests designed to diagnose and classify nutritional types. It is possible for the same person to take two different diagnostic tests and have them place the individual in two distinct categories, say carb type and mixed.
The practice of nutritional typing ignores the established observation that all people are biochemically very similar, processing nutrients in the same evolutionarily conserved pathways. It also ignores the very broad range of biochemical individuality we possess in terms of enzyme production, hormone secretion, and homeostatic set points.
Though the practice of nutritional typing perhaps oversteps reason, its goals cannot so easily be set aside. For example, one of the practice’s central aims is regulation of leptin and insulin sensitivities. Does that require you to radically alter your macros, or forego all gluten even if you have no problem with digesting grains? Probably not, though decreasing grain consumption, eating more low glycemic index veggies, and exercising portion control may help you avoid metabolic syndrome, or perhaps reverse it. However, that is true for all people.
You are not a “type.” You are a human being with a human physiology that will require your attention to optimize. Eat moderately and nutritiously, exercise daily, and ignore the hype.
CATEGORIES: Protein, Diet Plan, Nutrition, Nutritional Type, Carb