High Energy Diets and Nutritional Typing – Part I

Ever notice how some people are bouncing off the walls with energy when they eat a high protein diet while the same diet makes other folks lethargic?

Or how some people seem to have boundless energy when they switch to a vegetarian diet that makes their pals feel fatigued and listless?

For decades, various researchers have been taking a stab at the elusive holy grail of coming up with a perfect system that would allow people to be “matched” to their perfect diets. And doesn’t it make perfect sense? It’s absolutely elegant: A type “X” would have great energy and health on a high protein diet,  a type “Y” would thrive on raw foods, a type “Z” on nothing but popcorn.

Recognizing the vast diversity in genetics, hormones, metabolism, ancestry, and a scazillion other variables, many nutritionists and other health professionals have correctly intuited that it would be oh-so-wonderful if only we could identify those “types” so that we could determine what sorts of people would do best on what sorts of diets.

And indeed it would. I’m just not sure it’s happened yet.

There have been numerous tests- from saliva tests to blood tests to sophisticated questionnaires- developed in an attempt to identify certain characteristics in a person’s make-up that would make it more likely that they would thrive on a certain kind of diet.

William Wolcott’s Metabolic Typing is one such system, Peter D’Adamo’s blood type system is another. (In the Blood Type system, for example, people with type O blood are believed to do much better on diet higher in meat than, say, a person with type A blood. This is a huge oversimplification, but hopefully gets the point across.)

These systems have their proponents, and the practitioners of these systems devote a great deal of time and energy and study to refining the systems so that they can help their clients pick the foods that support them in health, and avoid those that don’t.

One thing all these “typing” systems have in common is the belief that it’s not enough for a food to just be “healthy”-  if you’re not suited to that food, it’s not healthy for you, even if it’s great for someone else. (A really, really easy-to-understand example of this that doesn’t require any typing system at all to comprehend is a food allergy—a food can be amazingly healthy- soy, peanuts, eggs- but if you’re allergic to it, it’s all wrong for you).

The system I like the best so far for identifying what type of diet is most likely to give you the most energy was developed by my good friend Glen Depke. It’s  called “Nutritional Typing” and is elegant in it’s simplicity. It will give you a great place to start. Depke, a Traditional Naturopath and the former chief nutritionist at Dr. Joseph Mercola’s Optimal Wellness Center has developed a terrific basic questionnaire that can be used to determine whether one is what he calls a “veggie” type, a “mixed type” or a “protein” type.

He’s generously allowed me to reproduce that questionnaire here.

Take the test, and use the results to determine where you should start for your optimal high-energy diet plan, realizing that you may have to tweak it depending on your needs. Nonetheless, the two diet plans given below should give you a great place to start once you know which “type” you are.


 Choose your answer and keep a tally of your score according to the number of points assigned

1. If you had to be at your best throughout the morning with high energy physically, mentally, and emotionally and did not have a chance to have anything but water from breakfast to lunch; which meal would you choose?

  • Yogurt mixed with fruit -2
  • Steak and eggs with a small amount of hash browns +2
  • Almost any food would work for me 0


2. Do you crave salt or snacks with salt such as potato chips?

  • Yes +1
  • No -1
  • At times but not consistently 0


3. Do you do well with a juice or water fast? (If you’ve never done one, take a guess at how you might feel)

  • No +2
  • Yes -2
  • Can fast if need be 0


4. If you had to be at your best throughout the afternoon with high energy physically, mentally, and emotionally and did not have a chance to have anything but water from lunch to dinner; which meal would you choose?

  • Large salad with a small chicken breast -2
  • Beef tenderloin with a small spinach salad +2
  • Almost any food would work for me 0


5. If eating desert what would you prefer?  (Remember this is based on your desire only not what you think is better or worse for you- what would you eat if no one were looking?)

  • Cheesecake +2
  • Mixed berries with low-fat yogurt -2
  • Almost any desert would appeal to me 0


6. If you had to be at your best throughout the evening with high energy physically, mentally, and emotionally and did not have a chance to have anything but water from dinner to bedtime; which meal would you choose?

  • Rib eye steak with cauliflower topped with cheese sauce +2
  • Tilapia with a large Caesar salad -2
  • Almost any food would work for me 0


7. How would you react if you were forced to skip a meal?

  • I would have no problem -2
  • I would react very poorly +2
  • I could skip a meal if necessary but would really prefer not to! 0


8. If you drank a glass of fruit juice on an empty stomach how would you react?

  • Poorly +2
  • I would respond well -2
  • This would have no noticeable affect on me 0

Please add up your score to determine your estimated nutritional needs.

  • -15 to -5         veggie type
  • -5 to +5          mixed type
  • +5 to +15       protein type

If you’re a veggie type it would be best to include higher amounts of vegetables, cut back on red meat, while focusing on lighter fish and white meat fowl and use fat sparingly. See sample meal plan for Veggie Type (below).

If you’re a protein type it would be best to increase quality organic red meat (I recommend only grass-fed), wild caught fatty fish, and dark meat fowl, consume higher amounts of quality fats, and slightly lower amounts of vegetables.

If you fall into the middle you’re probably a mixed type. Start with an assortment of quality meats and vegetables with a fair amount of fat.

View a sample 2-day eating plan for all 3 nutritional types »



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