Metabolic Typing Diet by William Wolcott examines
the work done by Dr William Kelley on establishing comprehensive
guidelines for metabolic typing. Wolcott worked as Dr Kelley's research
assistant and then as his "trouble-shooter" helping the
metabolic typing clinics with clients who needed extra help.
There are 8 different
components of metabolic typing, the most important being how balanced
the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is, and the oxidation rate. Dr
Kelley discovered the different metabolic types after he cured himself
of cancer with a vegetarian diet, but found his wife needed a high
protein diet when she developed a chronic illness. He found that
many people had imbalances in the ANS, some being parasympathetic
dominant (ie. the sympathetic was weak) and some being sympathetic
dominant, while some were more balanced.
If a person was sympathetic
dominant, a vegetarian or high carb diet strengthened the parasympathetic
side, bringing the person into balance. A parasympathetic dominant
needed a high protein, low carb diet to come back into balance.
A person who was fairly balanced needed a more mixed diet with a
wider range of nutrients to stay in balance. This system worked
well for most people, but there were some who didn't thrive on it.
Wolcott then came across
the research done by George Watson on oxidation rates. Those Watson
called fast oxidisers (who burned carbohydrate very quickly) needed
a high protein diet, like parasympathetic dominants. Slow oxidisers
needed a diet like the sympathetic dominants. In most cases, parasympathetic
dominants are fast oxidisers, and sympathetic dominants are slow
oxidisers, so the diets match. A person who is fairly balanced in
both areas is termed a Mixed Absolute and needs a mixed diet.
The problem arises when
a parasympathetic dominant is a slow oxidiser, or a sympathetic
dominant is a fast oxidiser, so that the diets don't match. In this
case, usually the oxidation rate takes precedence over the ANS imbalance,
when determining which diet is suitable. Or this metabolic type,
known as a Mixed Relative, might need to eat the Mixed diet.
Kelley and Watson had
also both discovered that the different metabolic types react differently
to vitamin and mineral supplementation. Each developed a list fo
which supplements were suitable for each type. Unsurprisingly, they
were very similar.
Kelley developed a very
comprehensive questionaire (with about 3500 questions) which he
used in conjunction with physical tests to determine all the variables
of a person's metabolic type. Each person would then get a personalised
program covering their best diet, plus appropriate supplementation
and any other recommended therapies. Over time, shorter questionaires
have been developed until there are now 4 levels. A brief summary
is below, but for more details see www.metaboliced.com
The Basic Program,
which comes from the book and includes a 65 part questionaire
to determine your type, and instructions on how to fine tune
The Intermediate Program,
which includes a more detailed questionaire and a consultation
with a trained Advisor. This gives you a more detailed breakdown
of your typing and supplement recommendations. Go to www.healthexcel.com/public/intermediate.html
to check out the questionaire. At the time of writing, this
program costs $US105 which doesn't include the supplements.
The Advanced Program
has more questions again, plus some physical tests. This level
costs $US270 and the questionaire can be previewed at www.healthexcel.com/public/advanced.html
Program which gives you Kelley's complete analysis and costs
For many people, the basic
program will be enough for them to get some guidelines on the best
way for them to eat. But for those with serious or chronic illnesses,
or those who are Relative Mixed, one of the more advanced programs
may be necessary. I can't comment on the effectiveness of the more
advanced programs, but can give you my impressions of the value
of the book.
The book firstly covers
the theories behind the diet. Then it provides the questionaire
for determing your type. The next section covers the three main
diets, followed by instructions on how to get started and how to
fine tune it your diet to get it right for you.
The diets themselves
are very similar to those discussed in Biobalance
by Rudolph Wiley. They are also similar to Robert McFerran's metabolic
diets, which are largely based on Watson's oxidation rate studies
& Wiley's Biobalance work. The Protein type = Hunter-Gather,
the Carbo type = Agriculturist and
the Mixed = Mixed. The main difference
between these diets and McFerran's are that McFerran doesn't recommend
grains/dairy for either type, while Kelley and Wolcott allow them
for all types.
I believe the concepts
discussed are among the most advanced in nutrition today. To my
knowledge, this is the only metabolic typing system that includes
8 different components. So it is more advanced than other metabolic
diets including the blood type diets
and I would anticipate that the comprehensive program is excellent.
But the book has it's drawbacks, some of necessity :
The questionaire is
much shorter than the full program. If you are clearly a Protein
type, a Carbo type or a Mixed Absolute, you should be able to
tell which type you are. But if you are a Mixed Relative, this
may not be so easy. (see "case
From my personal observations,
I believe that grains are not suitable for Protein/Hunter-Gather
types, but can be suitable for Carbo/Agriculturists or Mixed
types. I wouldn't recommend wheat for anybody though - better
grains to try are amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, kamut or
spelt. Corn or millet may be OK in small doses.
Dairy is allowed,
as long as there are no allergies. However, many people are
sensitive to dairy without realising it, and due to the way
it is processed, (pasturised and/or homoginised) most dairy products are not good foods. Raw
dairy is tolerated by most people though, or you can make it into kefir
There is not a lot
of discussion of what fats are suitable for each type. While
saturated fats are tolerated well by Protein types and poorly
by Carbo types, there is room for more research on vegetable
oils. For example, some people recommend flaxseed oil, while
others report that not everybody can metabolise it. Some experts
recommend coconut oil, while other report it makes them gain
weight. I suspect this is due to metabolic differences.
There is no list of
what supplements are suitable for each type. This may be because
they are reluctant to make recommendations unless a more detailed
analysis has been done, but I found this a major drawback.
The recommended way
of starting each diet is to start with a full portion of an
allowed protein, and a very small portion of carbohydrate. You
then increase the carbohydrate each meal till you stop feeling
sick. This method works fine for Protein types who will feel
good quite quickly. But for a Carbo type, this seems to be the
wrong way round. I would recommend Carbo types start with a
small amount of protein and a moderate amount of carbs and increase
or decrease the protein to find their point of balance.
"trialled" the questionaire on 3 people :
Study 1 :
First I tried
it out myself. I scored 40 points for the Protein diet,
16 for the Mixed and 7 for the Carbo. Very clearly a Protein
type. This ties in with what I have learnt about my nutritional
needs over the last few years. So I'm an example of someone
whose ANS & oxidation types are compatible, and the
questionaire worked well for me. The majority of people
would probably find this to be the case.
Study 2 :
Client A then tried
it out. He found a lot of the questions quite hard to
answer. For eg, a question that asked whether he felt
better on sugars, meat or equally good on either (Mixed).
He feels equally bad on either but had to
choose the Mixed answer. The correct response for him
would be that he felt best on carbs, but not fruit or
He scored 26
Mixed, 22 Carbo, 12 Protein. This would make him a Mixed
type with leanings towards Carbo. But he has found that his best diet is mostly vegetarian, with small amounts
of light animal protein. He does burn up calories
quite quickly, so he needs reasonable quantities of high
density, unrefined carbs like whole grains, beans, nuts
I think he
is a Mixed Relative, with a sympathetic dominant ANS,
but tending towards fast oxidation. In his case, rather
than needing the Protein type foods, the ANS category
is dominant, which means he doesn't feel good on the heavy
proteins recommended for a fast oxidiser. Rather he needs
to favour the higher calorie foods in the Carbo range.
Study 3 :
Client B, has been suffering from acid reflux
so was keen to learn more about the foods that would be
best for him. His score was 29 Protein, 22 Carbo, Mixed
7. This theoretically makes him Protein type. It was clear
as we went through the questions together that his appetite
and preferences were for the Protein type foods, and he
had many of the physical characteristics associated with
that type. But he consistently reported that he felt bad
on the heavier foods, and better on the lighter foods.
This led us
to the conclusion that he was actually a Mixed Relative
type, despite having very few Mixed answers. It appears
that he has a parasympathetic dominant ANS, but is a slow
oxidiser. He is currently trying out different aspects
of the Carbo and Mixed diets to see which works best.
who think they are Mixed Relative after doing the questionaire might
find it useful to read another small book about Kelley's metabolic
typing work - Medicine's
Missing Link by Tom & Carole Valentine. This
predates Wolcott's book by some 10 years. It doesn't give details
of the diets but does have lists of characteristics that may help
pin down your type.
It can also give extra
information to those who are confident of their type. After examing
the lists, I now believe I have a fairly balanced ANS, maybe even
tending slightly to sympathetic dominant. But I am very definitely
a fast oxidiser.
If you want to improve your
diet, it is vital to know what metabolic type you are.
Unless you want to spend the big bucks being fully tested,
this is currently the best indicator I know of. But use
some judgement when interpreting your test results.
Once you have determined
your type, you can follow Wolcott's guidelines to fine
tune your diet. Or you may find other diets in the same
"family" work equally well for you. Out of the
metabolic diets, I think the most advanced is McFerran's,
though I believe Agriculturists can (and in some cases
should) eat certain grains.
See the Dietary
Overview page for the groupings.