The ideal balance of carbohydrates or fats for your metabolism depends on many factors including age, physical activity, total calorie intake, and your genes. A lot of websites may advertise using genomics or metabolomics to define your metabolic type, but those techniques are not that good except to identify clear abnormalities. Instead, we can do a simple personal screening to evaluate your genetic background to get started. If you have a family history either of heart disease caused by plaque blocking arteries or of diabetes with abnormal blood sugar, you are likely to have underlying metabolic problems that would benefit from specific dietary choices. While these conditions are somewhat common, they represent the extremes of metabolic types and related diet choices.
At one extreme, if you have cardiovascular disease characterized as hyperlipidemia with total blood cholesterol above 300 mg/dL, or LDL above 170 mg/dL, or angina (chest pains associated with poor blood circulation), you likely would benefit from a more plant-based diet with reduced fat, reduced saturated fat and cholesterol, and increased dietary fiber.
At the other extreme, if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes with fasting blood glucose (FBG) above 126 mg/dL, triglycerides (TG) above 400 mg/dL, or high blood pressure, you would benefit from a low-carbohydrate diet. Each of these extreme conditions almost always have underlying genetic problems that cannot be solved by diet changes alone and treatment will likely require medication.
If you don’t have one of these extreme health issues, you have more flexibility with your diet choices, but your choices begin to narrow as you make lifestyle choices. The two major lifestyle choices you make are the calories you eat and your daily exercise.
The most common metabolic problem for adults is excess body weight and what we call The Metabolic Syndrome. This is the metabolic type associated with insulin resistance. The Metabolic Syndrome is characterized by excess body weight, but specifically abdominal obesity … body fat around the middle. For men this is a waist circumference above 40 inches and for women greater than 35 inches. The second characteristic, and perhaps most important, is blood triglycerides (TG) > 150 mg/dL. The third characteristic is fasting blood glucose (FBG) > 100 mg/dL. These are all symptoms leading to diabetes and heart disease. One approach to combating The Metabolic Syndrome is weight loss, but that can be slow. A second more effective solution is a low-carbohydrate diet. A low-carbohydrate diet can reverse The Metabolic Syndrome within a few weeks. Your specific Carbohydrate Tolerance can be evaluated simply by following your TG values. If your carbohydrate intake is correctly balanced, your TG will be less than 150 mg/dL.
As you think about your Metabolic Type, remember muscle is your largest metabolic organ. Protect it. Get your dietary protein up to the right amounts with a meal distribution; find a way to increase your daily movement … monitor your step count; and keep your carbohydrates in check. Have your doctor monitor your triglycerides (TG). Our Metabolic Transformation is based on over 30 years of research at the University of Illinois, and we will guide you through transforming your lifestyle for metabolic success.