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The Fuel We Burn
02-15-2012

Our cells convert food into energy at different rates. In a theory presented by Dr. George Watson and developed further by Dr. William Kelley, "fast oxidizers" or "parasympathizers" burn protein/fat as fuel while "slow metabolizers" or "sympathizers" burn carbohydrates as fuel. "Mixed oxidizers" need a balance of protein and carbohydrates for energy. According to this precept, each person has a homeostatic regulatory system that dominates and determines the particular way of eating that is beneficial to one's system. Therefore, nutrients and food can have opposite biochemical effects in different individuals, and diseases and degenerative conditions can be caused by opposing biochemical imbalances.

Determining one's "metabolic type" may not be that easy. According to sources on the Internet, I present with several slow metabolizer characteristics, yet I am a fast metabolizer needing frequent meals throughout the day, feeling energized and relaxed after red meat consumption, and gaining weight when I simply look at grain-based foods. Even laboratory testing, such as utilizing fasting glucose and the Glucose Tolerance Test, can be inconclusive. Trial and error seem to be the best determining factors. How one feels after a high protein vs. a high carbohydrate meal can aid in analyzing one's type. If a bowl of oatmeal in the morning provides plenty of energy until lunch, one may be a slow metabolizer. If the oatmeal causes sluggishness instead, and protein, such as smoked salmon, keeps one full and satisfied throughout the morning, one may be a fast metabolizer. Gaining weight on a particular diet (high carb, low fat; Atkins, Zone) can elucidate which type you are not.

For fast oxidizers, fatty meats and fish, in balanced proportions with low carb vegetables, are a wonderful source of protein. Lamb may be a favorite for this particular metabolic type. Foods containing purines, two of the four genetic codes in DNA and RNA that assist in processing of fats, are especially good. Slow metabolizers function best on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, and dairy products. Mixed or balanced oxidizers seem to function best on a balance of 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat. Ratios will vary for the individual.

Most of us grew up with love of the grain. Bread has been a staple of life, and cookies, cakes, and various pastries have been life's reward. For fast oxidizers, the removal or minimal intake of grains can be disheartening. Over the last few weeks, I have become a huge fan of almond meal and have indulged in the joys of baking (See HCs 031124-428, 071124-436, and 070181-357 for a few of the HerbClips on almond's health benefits). From pizza crust to cinnamon raisin bread to chocolate olive oil almond meal cake with berries, almond meal is a wonderful staple in any fast oxidizer's home.

Lori Glenn,  Managing Editor