The Metabolic Diet
By Doug Setter (with special thanks to Oz Garcia and Carlton Fredericks)
Should a Type A personality eat the same as a Type B? Why does a low carbohydrate diet energize some people and make others lethargic? Why do certain people naturally crave fats, sour-tasting foods or sweets?
Determining your basic metabolic type can help you to better understand your body’s basic needs in terms of nutrition, exercise and rest. Fast and slow metabolisms, also known as fast and slow oxidizers or burners, have been written about for decades.i In the book, The Balance, Oz Garciaii describes three basic types of metabolisms: Fast, Slow or Mixed Burner.
By taking the following test, you can better determine what kind of foods best suit your own metabolic rate. Keep in mind that the information in this article is not a substitute for medical advice.
APPENDIX A : METABOLIC TYPE TEST
Based on The Balance by Oz Garcia
- Do you tend to get angry?
- Almost never
- Do you tend to get anxious?
- Almost never
- Your appetite is:
- Above normal
- Below normal
- You find it easy to:
- Lose weight
- Gain weight
- Maintain weight
- Your hair is usually:
- Your skin is usually:
- Bedtime eating makes you:
- Toss and turn all night
- Feel good
- During the day, you:
- Sometimes forget to eat
- Get hungry often
- Eat only 3 times per day
- Emotionally, you tend towards:
- A hot temper
- Calm, cool and collected
- Occasional emotional upsets
- You exercise:
- Frequently and enjoy it
- Seldom, and dislike it
- Sometimes and enjoy it
- You fall asleep:
- With difficulty
- Within half an hour
- You feel fatigue:
- If exercising, you like to choose:
- Intense aerobic exercise
- Weights and machines
- Either or
- Your blood sugar is usually
- Your breakfast is usually:
- You like raw salad and vegetables:
- Quite a bit
- You tend to feel too warm:
- Very rarely
- You are most alert:
- Bright and early
- Around noon
- Whenever you get up
- Around evening, you tend to:
- Go to bed early
- Come alive
- Gradually slow down
- Regardless of what you eat, you:
- Have trouble gaining weight
- Gain weight easily
- Have stable weight
- Your stamina is:
- Above normal
Total the letters. A’s = Fast Burners, B’s = Slow Burners, C’s = Mixed Burners.
Fast burning metabolisms are usually found in hyperactive people who often thrive on anxiety and irritability. They are often impatient Type A personalities who seem to have their adrenal glands stuck on high. They tend to have bursts of energy and have difficulty relaxing. The fast burner often has an addictive type of personality and displays obsessive traits or develops an abuse of drugs or even food. Fast Burners may not all be lean and active, but they are constantly looking for quick boosts of energy, usually through quick carbohydrate fixes.
If you are a Fast Burner, you probably skipped the metabolic test and are in a hurry to find answers. Fast Burners, like yours truly, burn out their mineral supplies like there is no tomorrow and have difficulty building muscle. This is why I disagree with diet pills that are mild stimulants that contain substances such as theobromide, caffeine and ephedrine. These “quick-fixes” will only tire you out in the long run.
A Fast Burner must maintain a steady flow of energy from their food. Take a typical eating pattern:
Breakfast: Coffee, toast, fruit
Snack: Coffee or pop and a donut
Snack: Coffee, muffin or donut
Lunch: Juice, yogurt, salad with dressing, bagel
Snack: Diet Coke
Supper: Chicken breast, boiled potato and pre-frozen mixed vegetables
It is painfully obvious that this eating pattern is packed with sugar at regular intervals. While it might fit the low-calorie, low-fat format, it is going to give the eater more ups and downs than a runaway roller coaster.
An effective fast-burner eating plan would be more like this:
Breakfast: Water, oatmeal, three egg whites
Snack: Peanut butter on whole grain crackers or chicken fingers
Lunch: Chicken or salmon salad
Snack: Protein shake
Dinner: Water, lean beef, stir-fried or steamed vegetables
Snack: Water, slice of turkey breast
The Fast Burner can tolerate higher amounts of fat and oil as they need the gradual release of their concentrated energy. Most fruits and fruit juices are high in fruit sugar (fructose) and should be avoided. However, vitamin-rich fruits such as apples, pears, apricots and all types of berries are okay.
When I find six small meals a day a nuisance, I try to have at least two good sit- down meals per day. I often did this while I was in the military, while working around the base. I found that I could actually make faster muscle gains by eating fewer meals, but eating those meals slowly.
Those high-speed, Type A people who are too busy to eat must discipline themselves to either prepare their meals in advance or arrange to have at least one relaxing, uninterrupted meal per day. Many Europeans, like the Germans, eat like this. They have tea and some heavy bread in the morning, a huge (often two hour) lunch and then a moderate supper in the evening. If you have been to Germany, you might have been amazed as I was to see stores close, restaurants fill up and so many people just relaxing during one of North America’s most frantic times of the day. I would have to challenge anyone who questioned the productivity or good health of Germany’s people.
If you are a very active fast burner, such as a competitive athlete, you can add more complex carbohydrates, like rice, yams or potatoes, to your diet. As for exercise, fast burners often benefit from anaerobic exercise, such as weight lifting, sprinting, team sports or even yoga. The short duration exercises help build muscle tissue and can have a more calming effect than aerobic exercise.
On the other metabolic extreme, slow burners tend to be easy-going, have low blood pressure and good digestion and often dislike exercise.
A typical slow burner eating pattern is as follows:
Breakfast: Two waffles with butter and maple syrup, two cups of coffee.
Lunch: Baked potato, egg salad, roll with butter, fruit cup, coffee.
Dinner: Salad with dressing, rice, brownie with vanilla ice cream.
By now you can see the low-food value and high sugar content of most of these foods. This slow burner’s energy is going to drop about an hour after every meal. Unfortunately, many of us have grown to accept that afternoon “dinner drunk” syndrome as being normal. When you eat properly, you can often go back to work feeling satisfied and alert. An effective slow burner eating plan would be more like this:
Breakfast: Two eggs, poached or over-easy, steamed vegetables, one cup of herbal tea.
Snack: Protein shake.
Lunch: Salmon salad with greens, tomatoes, olive oil and lemon juice, one pear.
Snack: Low-fat yogurt or cheese (if you can tolerate dairy) or almond butter and rice crackers.
Dinner: Chicken breast and stir-fried vegetables.
Slow Burners should minimize their fats and oils and stick to whole fruits such as apples, bananas and citrus fruits. Bananas and citrus fruits are high in potassium, which is a mineral that tends to be low in most Slow Burners. Grapefruits have been used for decades for weight loss as they tend to help kick-start a slow metabolism. Be aware that some people are allergic to citrus fruits and might react adversely to them.
Only about ten percent or less of the population is estimated to be Mixed Burners.iii If you are one of these, you will have a fairly even flow of energy unless you “fall off of the wagon” from a steady intake of processed foods, coffee and reckless living. However, a Mixed Burner metabolism is not a free ride.
You can take food choices from the other types of burners and determine what works best for you. Sometimes you might perform more like a fast burner and others you might perform like a slow burner. You have to find out for yourself.
As for exercise, use anaerobic exercise, like weight-lifting to slow yourself down and aerobics, like running, to speed up your metabolism.
i Fredericks, Carlton, Ph.D. (1988) Psycho-Nutrition. Berkley Books: New York.
ii Garcia, Oz w/Kolberg, Sharyn (1998) The Balance. Regan Books: New York. P.19.