Body Type Diets & Blood Type Diets:
Science or Scams?
Q: Tom, On your Burn the Fat website I see that you changed some things and you were talking a lot more about eating according to one's body type. I purchased your Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle a while ago and I recall the info in chapter 5 about the somatotyping system (endomorphs, etc), but I was wondering if you've added anything new or changed anything? Are you now teaching what Dr. D'Adamo teaches in his book Eat Right for Your Type? I've researched that myself and a lot of websites claim that there's some serious misinformation about Dr.D'Adamo's claims. I've noticed that you always back up your articles with science-based evidence. Do you have any evidence for adjusting diet for body type?
A: Dr. D'Adamo's program is about blood type diets not body type diets. Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) has nothing to do with blood type diets. I've never seen any evidence that eating according to blood type helps with fat loss. In fact, you are right, if you Google around, you'll find the blood type diet torn to pieces on skeptic and quack websites.
I remember reading something Bill Phillips wrote years ago when he was asked the same question about whether his program would work if you had a certain blood type.Phillips quipped, "Absolutely! If your blood type is red, the program will work for you!"
To this day, I still get a good chuckle out of that one.
So... unless you're from planet Vulcan, I guess you're in luck!
The principles in Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) have not changed - it has always had a chapter on body types and the entire program is based on customization of nutrition.
BFFM will be updated when necessary as there is valid breaking research released and as I gain new insights which help me teach the principles better and better. But the core of the program will never change because it IS principle-based, never based on gimmicks or the fad/flavor of the day).
We have only changed the website home page presentation to accomodate for how most people are most readily consuming information today on the internet (they don't like reading long pages of text, but they enjoy watching - at least that's what the eye scan and usability studies say - so we added a video)
The body type information has fascinated our customers and readers for years, and it has always been a prominent subject in bodybuilding culture.
So... we simply highlighted that part more in our most recent website update.
In Chapter 5 of my BFFM e-book, you'll see that I go into great detail about the three major body types - ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph. This is known as the somatotyping system. However, I would never base an entire program just on this one premise.
Somatotyping is a useful, but admittedly incomplete way to classify your body type - or more specifically, your physique structure. This body typing concept is only one small part of the complete BFFM system.
More important than body types alone, is that the whole program is individualized - there's no one-size-fits-all program.
Nevertheless, the body typing information really IS fascinating...
The somatotyping theory was founded over 80 years ago by Harvard psychologist William Sheldon (pictured at the top of this page).
In the 1990's, a biologist and anthropologist - Heath and Carter - made considerable advances and improvements on the somatotyping system which made it much more accurate and useful than just a descriptive classification system.
The way I see it, ideally we should be able to glean some insights from knowing our body type that help us adjust our training and nutrition, if this somatotpying theory is to be a truly useful concept.
Otherwise it would be, as Heath and Carter noted, nothing more than an "anthropological identification tag."
Moving even further beyond a simple description of outward appearance and body structure, today we are learning more and more about the effect various foods (carbohydrates in particular) have on blood sugar response, metabolic syndrome and ad libitum food intake in different people.
That brings up another "body typing" theory known as metabolic typing.
This method is promoted by numerous health and nutrition professionals, most notably William Wolcott, although other authors who mention it include Paul Chek, Philip Goglia and Michael Thurmond.
Although the metabolic typing theory goes beyond macronutrient ratios, the basic idea is to figure out whether you're a protein type, carb type or mixed type and then... eat right for your type (high protein, high carb or somewhere in the middle).
To best of my knowledge there is no peer reviewed evidence supporting the old metabolic typing diet system.
In fact, there is quite a bit of research showing that if calories are carefully matched, then weight loss will be similar regardless of the macronutrient ratios (one possible exception is protein - if some of the sugar and carbs are replaced with the right kinds of lean protein foods, that can influence fat loss through increased satiety and thermogenesis - and that's why I'm going to be talking about protein nutrition secrets in upcoming articles and newsletters).
That said, I believe that at the core of this "metabolic type" concept lie some incontrovertible truths and very useful ideas...
For example, that individuals are physiologically and metabolically unique and that they vary widely in their energy needs (metabolic rate), and their ability to process carbohydrates and regulate blood sugar (metabolic type)...
This difficulty in handling carbs and regulating blood sugar increases in obesity as shown by the high incidence of symptoms of metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
One suggested remedy is to alter the macronutrient ratios in the direction of more lean protein and healthy fats, and reduce the carbs at least to a moderate degree (not discounting the need for caloric deficit, of course).
That's in combination with exercise and losing weight, which may be the two best first lines of defense against metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
In summary, my BFFM program simply uses some of the latest info on somatotyping (Sheldons original 80+ year old work, plus improvements on the system from Heath and Carter), combined with information on adjusting your carb intake to suit your personal needs - giving YOU the nutrition and workout that's right for YOUR body.
Again, this has nothing to do with blood type, and it's not "metabolic typing" except in the sense that I think it's perfectly logical to adjust your carbohydrate level as your goals, your activity, your health and your personal tolerance allow.
Fine tuning this NEW SCIENTIFIC BODY TYPING and INDIVIDUALIZED NUTRITION system is always one of my ongoing projects, so you will definitely be seeing more information about this on my website, blog and newsletter, in the near future.
If you already own my original Burn the Fat, Feed the muscle (BFFM) ebook, you can find all the current info on body typing info in chapter 5, and info on adjusting and customizing carb intake in chapters 11 and 12...
And throughout the whole book, everything is customized for YOU: your metabolic rate calculations, your total calorie requirement, your proper calorie deficit, your ideal rate of fat loss, your protein intake - everything.
For any readers who don't have the book yet, you can order it from: www.BurnTheFat.com/order.html.
Your friend and coach,
Tom Venuto is the author of the #1 best seller, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom is a lifetime natural bodybuilder and fat loss expert who achieved an astonishing ripped 3.7% body fat level without drugs or supplements. Discover how to increase your metabolism, burn stubborn body fat and find out which foods burn fat and which foods turn to fat by visiting the home page at: BurnTheFat.com
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