Last week I spoke about how different civilizations have evolved to handle different diets. Eastern civilizations have adapted to a diet that relies on rice as a staple, so us clever Westerners think, they look healthy in Asia, let’s eat like them! Very quickly we gain weight and many of us feel drained of energy if we eat like that.
It all comes down to your heritage and what is known as metabolic typing. We don’t know enough about genetics and DNA yet to be able to use it to create perfect diets for each individual. But we can look at certain aspects of the diet, how they make you feel and use those clues to adapt your diet for optimal energy and weight.
Really what it comes down to is two polar opposites known as a “Carbohydrate Metabolism” and a “Protein Metabolism”. If you look at a scale of 1-10 with 1 being pure carbohydrate type and 10 being pure protein type, we all fit into the scale somewhere along the line, with many being somewhere in the middle, which we call a “Mixed Type”.
Now I know what you are thinking; if you have read a number of my posts, I have been telling you that too much carbohydrate is not good for you and we should be eating plenty of fat. Am I going back on my previous statements? No. It just gives us all a guide as to how we mix the ratios of macro nutrients (carbs, protein and fats).
How fast we metabolize food is a good indicator of what type we are. If you are the type of person who eats a meal; Pasta for example which is very high in carbs and you are hungry again an hour later. You probably have a very high/fast metabolism (protein type) also known as a fast oxidizer. Eating like this is a big disadvantage for your energy, as the carbs hit your system like a bullet, spike your blood sugar very high and eventually send you into a sugar crash. The result being that you will feel very tired. Not energetic at all.
Give that same person a nice piece of lamb, with some vegetables covered in butter or olive oil, and you find that the protein and fat slow their digestion, they stay fuller for longer, their blood sugars stay stable, so no crash and their energy levels stay elevated.
If we look at a person with a slow metabolism (carb type), that high fat, high protein, low carb meal will just drain their body of energy due to the stress it puts on the digestive system. In other words, all their energy is put into processing that food and there is none left in the tank afterwards. However, if you were to reduce the fat and protein quantity (not remove it entirely though) and increase the carbs by including one or two more starchy vegetables, it becomes far easier to digest. But as they still naturally digest food slower, they won’t suffer the sugar spike to the same extent as a fast metabolizing protein type.
There are many online tests/and surveys you can take to work out which type you are, so if you want to look more into it, just google “metabolic typing test” and you will get plenty to choose from.
When you find out the results, you will probably have a million and one questions about how you should adjust your diet. Quite simply, if you are a carb type, about 60-70% of your diet can be carbohydrate. I still prefer to get carb types to eat vegetables rather than rely heavily on processed grains, although you can make some grains, especially the sprouted type, a percentage of that (30-40% grains, 60-70% vegetables). Starchy vegetables are tolerated well, but still eat plenty of the lower starch vegetables as these are the most nutrient dense ones. Fats can be eaten, but no more than 15% of your diet with the rest made up of lean proteins like chicken breast and fish.
Protein types can eat up to 30-40% of their calories as fats (fat calories are just over twice as high as carb or protein so it doesn’t mean your plate is 30-40% fat). Things like pasture fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil etc are great options. Protein (not lean, so chicken legs and fattier cuts of meat) can be about 30% proportion with the rest (30-40%) made up of the non starchy vegetables. Minimize potatoes, turnip, parsnip and carrots (except for a treat when drizzled in butter or cooked in a healthy fat) but eat vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, leafy greens etc with no problem.
If you feel you are a mixed type, it’s easy, just take the average of each type and work it until you fell like it’s right. These figures aren’t exact. As I said earlier, we are all somewhere on a sliding scale, but it is just a matter of finding the proportions that are right for you and your type.
If you can get the ratios of your foods right for you, your energy will increase and stay stable through the day, you will recover better from the rigors of those hard training sessions and your endurance will also naturally increase. After all, if you can get your body working right, your running can only improve!