Metabolic Diets

Many popular eating plans are “one size fits all”. The author believes that they have found the “perfect” diet – it works for them, so it will work for everybody. While many of these diets have some truth to them, what they don’t take into consideration is individual metabolic differences. But there are a number of researchers who have found that people can respond very differently to the same regime, and have looked for the reasons why.

Dr George Watson (in“Nutrition and your mind”) was one of the first to discover that his patients mostly fell into two distinct groups. Those he called fast oxidisers recovered their health on a diet high in fat, purines & proteins & low in carbohydrates, while those he called slow oxidisers were best suited to a diet high in fruit & salad vegetables and low in fat and protein. There was also a group he called sub-oxidisers that fell somewhere in the middle.

Rudolph Wiley (His original book Biobalance has now been replaced with “Biobalance2”) carried on with Watson’s research. His theory is that people’s pH levels are out of balance and they need a diet that brings them back to a mid point. So some people need an acidic diet, some need an alkaline diet and some need a mixture.

James and Peter D’adamo developed the blood type theory to explain the differences, and discovered the impact that lectins can have on health. They found that O blood types have an improvement in health when they eat some red meat every day, and limit their carbohydrate intake, especially grains. Whereas A blood types suit a high carbohydrate diet, low in fat, with soy, light meat and fish being the best protein sources.

William Kelley (“The Metabolic Typing Diet” by William Wolcott) discovered the different diets required by people with autonomic nervous system imbalances. Those who are parasympathetic dominant require a high protein diet, while those who are sympathetic dominant require a high carb diet. In conjunction with his assistant Wolcott, he later expanded his theory to include other metabolic markers including rate of oxidation and blood type.

Another book, which is as yet unpublished, is by Robert McFerran. Bob came from the position of a chronically ill person with no hope of getting better. He conducted extensive research which included some of the above works, recent discoveries on Paleolithic diets and allergy work done by Theron Raldolph (“An Alternative Approach to Allergies”) & William Philpott (“Brain Allergies”).

He pulled all of these into one coherent theory which concludes that due to the period of time it takes to adapt to new foods, most people are best suited to a diet based on their ancestry. He breaks the metabolic types into Hunter-Gatherer (best suited to a diet high in fat and purines – meat, dark seafood, vegetables, nuts and seeds & a little fruit, but no grains or dairy), Agriculturist (best suited to light meat & fish, salad vegetables, fruit, can tolerate some grains and dairy) and Mixed.

He believes that people also develop food allergies, most commonly to foods that are incompatible with their metabolic type. When food allergies are identified and eliminated, and the correct whole food metabolic diet is  eaten, chronic health problems will then start to resolve. These could include arthritis, chronic fatigue, liver disease, obesity, cancer, heart disease and many more.

I discovered Bob’s work on Dr Walt Stoll’s website, where he has also posted some sections of his book. With his permission, I have reposted them here. These extracts are not intended to replace reading Bob’s book when it is published. They will give you an overview of the background research done, and some information on how to run an elimination diet, identify your metabolic type and follow the correct diet, but the book will be more extensive.

To get more information in the meantime, you can visit Dr Stoll’s website where a lot of correspondence has been archived between Bob and people who are using his diets. There is as yet no publication date for his book, which will be called ARTHRITIS — Searching for THE TRUTH — Searching for THE CURE. Although it is primarily aimed at arthritis sufferers, the principles apply to anyone who has chronic health problems, or just wants to have a more vibrant state of health.

In my opinion, metabolic typing is the best way to find the right diet for maintaining your best state of health. Both McFerran’s & Kelley’s metabolic diets only contain whole foods, so exclude all sugars, all refined grains and alcohol. They are not easy to follow for this reason, and require commitment. But if you are serious about improving your health, especially if you have a chronic health problem, this is where I would recommend that you start.

An important note is that these are metabolic extremes. You could fall anywhere on the continuum between Hunter-Gatherer/Protein type and Agriculturist/Carbo type. How extreme your diet needs to be depends on how extreme your metabolism is. If you are at one of the extreme ends, it is fairly easy to determine, but if you are somewhere in the middle, it can take some trial and error to find the right balance.

I have been asked how to find out what metabolic type you are. Basically, Bob says that the only way to find out for sure is to try them both, and see which you feel better on, then fine-tune. But there are some indicators that give you a good idea of which is most likely.

If you do the elimination diet, the amount of fish you need gives you a clue. An Agriculturist will feel pretty good on just the fruit and veges, with just a bit of fish, whereas a Hunter-Gatherer will need lots of fish and will still feel hungry. (This is after you’ve got through your withdrawal symptoms). Most people who suffer from hypoglycemia find they are Hunter-Gatherers. Also, if you are an HG, the following things will probably make you feel terrible, whereas an Agriculturist can go quite well on them, and often feels energised :

  • Having a fruit juice or high sugar drink on an empty stomach (when I used to start the day with a freshly squeezed fruit juice, mistakenly believing it would be good for me – if I didn’t follow it up pretty smartly with a full breakfast, I would get very jittery as my blood sugar went rocketing about)
  • Having coffee on an empty stomach
  • Fasting, or going all day without eating

The Metabolic Typing Diet has a useful questionaire for helping to determine your type, and a method for fine tuning your diet. But it is a very basic questionaire, and can be misleading for Mixed types. See my review for more details.


For a personal testamonial from someone who recovered from “incurable” RA using the appropriate metabolic diet in conjunction with other methods, see Joseph Hacketts Recovery from Rheumatoid Arthritis website.

Dr Mercola’s protocol for RA is also of interest. He used to use Dr Brown’s RA protocol and found it worked even better when his diet plan was added. He now uses a combination of Metabolic Typing and techniques for resolving the emotional conflicts which caused the onset. For this he often uses EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).

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