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we balance our diet is as important as what we eat. As different
engines require different fuels for optimal performance, so do we
each have our own unique requirements and nutritional needs for
reaching our peak performance and optimal lean body mass. The area of
nutritional research is exploding with new insights and discoveries
which are being fueled by growing interest in the importance of our
diet in optimizing health, vitality and longevity. Yet much
controversy still exists.
the science of diet and nutrition often leaves the
average person more confused than ever. With some experts
recommending diets high in carbohydrates and low in protein, and
other experts recommending the very opposite, how can everyone be
right-or wrong, for that matter? My view is that each and every one
of us should develop an understanding of which foods (and how much of
each) make us feel our best.
and scientists have offered guidelines and given us
areas to consider when searching for our own personal diet ideal. One
approach gaining popularity is the Zone Diet. Dr. Barry Sears
has written a couple of books based on the scientific research into
the effect of the ratio of carbohydrate, protein and fat in our diet
on the hormonal balance between insulin (which is released when
carbohydrates are consumed) and glucagon (which is increased with
protein consumption). The balance between these two hormones has a
great deal to do with whether the body stores or burns fat.
whose ratios are key in finding this balanced
dietary zone are carbohydrates (breads, fruits, juices, legumes,
vegetables, whole grains, sweet foods, etc.), proteins (beef,
chicken, dairy, eggs, fish, etc.), and fat (butter, oil, nuts, etc.).
Some research in the area of balancing these ratios recommends as
ideal a balance of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% quality
fats. Eating very carefully and only the right goods without
balancing the proper ratio for your individual needs may not result
in maximizing health and wellness.
this approach, approximately 25% of us are very
sensitive to the amount of carbohydrate in our diet, and produce
excessive amounts of insulin with carbohydrate consumption. Another
50% of us are moderately sensitive to the amount of carbohydrate in
our diet and a "lucky" 25% of us seem to be able to tolerate as much
carbohydrate as we want without upsetting the hormonal balance
between insulin and glucagon.
are over-reactive to carbohydrates or have
carbohydrate-intolerance tend to gain and hold weight easily, crave
sugars, sweets and carbohydrates, and often have problems with blood
fats and sugar. Familial tendency towards hypoglycemia or obesity is
another key indicator for someone who would benefit from the "zone"
of other researchers recommend a diet much higher in
carbohydrate than the zone's 40$, with much lower protein and fat
ratios, such as 70% carbohydrate, 20% protein and 10% fat. Many of
these programs are recommended for people with high blood fat
profiles or who have high coronary risk. Some of the diets which fall
generally into this category include McDougal, Pritikin and Ornish.
These diets have been tremendously helpful in many cases in weight
loss and improved cholesterol and lower coronary risk. There are some
people, however, who when following this high carbohydrate/low fat
diet actually gain weight and experience an increase in blood fats,
opposite of what we would expect.
is another approach to finding your optimal ratio
of these three key macronutrients. A number of different researchers
have contributed to developing these guidelines which base the ideal
ratios of these nutrients on the rate at which an individual
metabolized or "burns" their foods. Dr. George Watson developed
classifications of fast oxidizers (burners) or slow oxidizers. Dr.
William Kelly developed a computerized system of metabolic profiling
which helps provide insight into what ratio of macronutrients would
be recommended for each individual.
tend to process their food rapidly, often with high
energy and strong mental function. Fast burners often don't enjoy
sweet desserts, but prefer fatty or salty snacks. Although they may
have a strong appetite and prefer several large meals per day,
digestive processes may actually be somewhat weak and inefficient.
These fast burners may need frequent feedings to prevent energy crash
and low blood sugar problems.
main metabolic type are the slow burners. Slow burners tend
to "burn" their foods very slowly and often have poor appetites. Slow
burners tend to like sweets but generally are unconcerned with food
and eating. It is interesting to note that the recommended ratios of
macronutrients for fast burners parallel the recommendations in the
zone approach (approximately 45% protein, 35% carbohydrate and 20%
fats), whereas the slow burner profile parallels the advocates of a
high carbohydrate/low protein and fat diet (approximately 70%
carbohydrate, 20% protein and 10% fat). The metabolic approach may
offer some help in understanding why some individuals have followed
one or another approach diligently and not gotten good results.
Perhaps the diet they chose was not suited to their metabolic rate,
and so did not offer the benefits which others experience.
confused yet? If so, it's understandable. I recommend that
you take the time to understand these concepts, apply them to your
own diet, and then carefully monitor the results-how you feel 30
minutes to 3 hours after eating, how well you digest your foods, how
good your energy level is, what your weight gain/loss is. If after
all these differing opinions and concepts aren't enough, let me
mention a couple of other things to be considered when developing
your own personal diet. Ancestry and the genes passed down to us from
our parents also contribute significantly. If your ancestry is fairly
clear and pure, determining the diet of your ancestors is a fairly
easy process. I myself am a blend of at least 8 different
nationalities. But ancestry can be a modifying factor in determining
some general dietary guidelines.
of researchers have contributed dietary guidelines
based on blood types. Among the prominent researchers in this area is
Toshitaka Nomi, a Japanese researcher who has published over 25 books
on the subject. Drs. James and Peter D'Adamo have also published
papers and books which define diets most suited to different blood
types. General guidelines are as follows: Type O is thought to be the
oldest blood type and individuals with Type O are recommended to eat
a diet heavier in animal meat and fish, supplemented with
carbohydrates. They do not do well with dairy or excessive amounts of
grain, and they generally prefer active physical lifestyles.
Type A blood are better suited to a semi-vegetarian diet
supplemented with lean meats, like poultry or fish. Type A's may also
have some difficulty with dairy products and excess grains. Type A's
often prefer less strenuous physical activities. Those with Type B
blood seem to have an ability to handle a wider variety of foods, and
variety is often a key, along with balancing their macronutrients.
Blood Type AB, which is the most rare, seems to be able to best
tolerate dairy products, but has a lesser tolerance for meat and
other animal products.
incredible amount of ongoing research, the factors which
influence our diet will be better defined as time moves forward.
Initially, new concepts and considerations will surely be added to
this soup. giving us a large plate abundantly piled with "food for
thought." Perhaps the most important of these considerations are
metabolic rate and carbohydrate sensitivity.
own dietary zone is an individual process and can be
accomplished relatively easily with some basic knowledge. You need to
find the diet that lets you feel your best, look your best, and gives
you the highest degree of resistance to cardiovascular disease,
diabetes and other serious illness.
basic rules provide some general guidelines which you
can use to begin the process of dietary discovery.
a wide variety of simple whole foods. Eat them in their
natural form with the least possible processing.
2.) Eat sufficient, high quality low-fat proteins (preferable free
range and hormone free).
3.) Be moderate with your starch intake (root vegetables, rice, corn
breads and pastas). Try to consume 1/2 to 1 cup fresh fruit and 4-6
cups fresh vegetables daily.
4.) Balance starch/carbohydrates with quality proteins whenever
possible. (15 grams of protein with 2-3 cups low starch
5. Reduce animal fats and eliminate hydrogenated and processed oils
(i.e. all fried foods, margarines, commercial salad dressings,
confectioneries and baked goods). Instead substitute monosaturated
oils and Omega3-rich oils such as flax, pumpkin and walnut oil.
6.) Drink at least 8 glasses of pure water daily. Substitute herbal
and naturally decaffeinated teas for caffeinated beverages and
years experience as a gentle, effective healer, Dr. Marc
Matson, D.C. is a health coach and clinical nutritionist, and Director
of Health Care at the Heart, Wellness, Vitality and Longevity Center
in Santa Rosa, California. He's completed a Master's program in
Clinical Nutrition and is a doctor of Chiropractic certified in
spinal trauma, sports injuries and rehabilitation. For more
information call (707) 579-2923.
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