What is metabolic typing and how can it benefit weight loss?
By Gwen Stewart, Founder of Chi of Life Weight Loss and Wellness Retreat
As a wellness coach, personal trainer and the founder of Chi of Life, I have been helping clients reduce body fat for over three decades. During this time, I’ve become frustrated with inconsistent results. For many years, I just couldn’t understand why one diet would work so well for some people, but not for others.
It’s natural for wellness coaches to doubt whether our clients are really following the diet and exercise plans we’ve prescribed them. However, not only is this unfair to people who are trying their best to lose weight, it can also contribute to low self-esteem and body-image issues.
Metabolic typing has allowed me to better understand my clients’ individual needs. I’ve been using metabolic typing for 18 years now, and it’s helped me realise that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet.
The basics of metabolic typing
Never heard of metabolic typing before? In a nutshell, it’s the three different types of macronutrient recommendations. Depending on how your body burns fat, there are eight different variations of metabolic typing. Although metabolic rates can vary from one person to the next, most people can be sorted into one of the three following groups:
1. fast oxidisers
2. slow oxidisers, and
3. balanced oxidisers.
There are pretty substantial differences between these groups, so it’s no wonder people often struggle to lose weight by sticking to a certain diet. They’re simply eating the wrong stuff. At Chi of Life, we can find out what your metabolic type is through a simple test.
Why generic diets don’t work
Metabolic typing challenges the idea that you can eat whatever you want as long as you limit your calories. Although it’s true that at a basic level weight loss is just simple maths, there’s more to losing weight and getting healthy than just numbers. As you limit your caloric intake, it’s important that you eat the right kind of food at the optimal ratio to burn fat, maintain muscle mass, boost your immune system and keep your energy levels stable. Sounds simple, right? It would be, except that the weight loss process is different for everyone.
For many years, nutritional science has taken a generic, overly standardised approach to health and weight loss. This is why no singular diet works for everyone. You’ve probably heard all the hype about the high-protein Atkins diet. The Atkins diet can be effective in some cases, but I’ve seen people stick to it for months and hardly lose any weight. As soon as they switched to a diet high in vegetable carbohydrates, lean protein and low fat, the kilos started falling off. Their bodies simply reacted better to the other diet, making weight loss much easier.
Different people = different diets
Some Olympians find that meals high in fat give them more energy than the type of low-fat diet an elite athlete would typically stick to. Why? Because inherited genetics make all of us unique. Just as we inherit the colour of our hair from our parents, metabolic typing works in much the same way.
This uniqueness extends to the way our cells convert nutrients into energy. In order to get the most nutritional bang for your calorie buck, you need to know your unique metabolic type. Once you understand how your body burns fat, you can begin to customise your dietary lifestyle around the foods that will help you achieve and maintain your ideal weight. This will make it easier to optimise your physical energy, strength, weight and mental clarity.
Metabolic typing and oxidisation
Metabolic typing is really just fancy talk for how your body processes what you eat. More specifically, how your body deals with the three basic macronutrients in food: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Try to think of your body as a furnace — after absorbing food, your body converts it into energy. This process is known as oxidation. It turns the carb content in your food into glucose so it can be released into your blood. It might sound complicated, but oxidisation really only involves two steps:
- glucose is released into the blood and the pancreas produces insulin (this cleans the blood of any sugar that’s not being used as energy), and
- the excess sugar ends up in your cells, where it gets stored as fat.
The fact that we all oxidise food in different ways is the reason why a particular diet will work for one person but not for another. The more you know about how your body absorbs food, the easier you’ll find losing weight.
Fast, slow and balanced oxidisers
Fast oxidisers tend to burn through nutrients very rapidly, so the carb content in their food gets broken down into glucose and released into the blood almost immediately. This sudden increase in blood sugar triggers a rapid release of insulin. The more carb content in your food, the more energy will become available to your body. Unless you find a way to burn off that energy, it will get stored as fat.
The dramatic leaps and falls in blood sugar levels associated with fast oxidisation can lead to the sugar-crash effect. For a fast oxidiser, foods with high-carb ratios often cause fatigue and carb cravings, while also promoting fat storage. Fast oxidisers should try to eat foods high in protein and fat. These foods will effectively slow down their rate of oxidisation and insulin release, resulting in long-lasting energy and more stable blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, slow oxidisers process nutrients more gradually, meaning insulin is released into their blood slowly, delaying energy availability. A slow oxidiser should eat foods with high ratios of vegetable carbohydrates, lean protein and low fat to slow the rate of oxidisation and energy production even further.
Balanced oxidisers process food at a stable rate. They require foods with equal quantities of protein, fat and carbs.
Chi of Life and metabolic typing
Participants at the Chi of Life Weight Loss and Wellness retreat are taught how to create nutritional meals based on their individual metabolic type.
- Fast oxidisers are provided with more fat and protein, and fewer vegetable carbohydrates.
- Slow oxidisers follow a meal plan consisting of vegetable carbohydrates, lean protein and low fat.
- A balanced oxidiser’s main source of protein is a mixture of lean and high-fat protein, with an even balance of vegetable carbohydrates.
I know of clients who have attended other retreats where they were served a low-fat diet and only lost around two to three kilos. After spending some time at Chi of Life and sticking to an eating plan customised to their specific metabolic type, they lost between eight to 10 kilos in just 20 days.
Staying at Chi of Life guarantees you the best results. Your meals can be monitored and adjusted to your correct macronutrient ratios by an experienced metabolic typing coach. For more information on how we can integrate metabolic typing into your weight loss journey, hear our approach.
Gwen is a master personal trainer, certified weight loss and wellness coach and the founder of Chi of Life. With more than 35 years of experience in the health and fitness industry, she has pioneered a holistic and highly effective approach to weight loss. Through a combination of extensive research and formal training, Gwen has become highly practiced in helping her clients discover better health through metabolic typing. Gwen’s mission is to teach and empower people to improve their quality of life. By treating her clients as individuals and catering to their unique exercise and diets needs, she can deliver amazing weight loss results. Apart from her work at Chi of Life, Gwen also enjoys outrigging and spending time with family. You can learn more about Gwen and her weight loss philosophy here.