You Say Atkins, I Say Pritikin; Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

There is a lot of confusion around why one particular diet works for one person, but not for another.  

Although every diet out there works for someone, or even a lot of people, it won’t work for everyone.  

Those who need animal protein to run their metabolisms in an efficient and balanced way will not thrive as a vegan or vegetarian.  Likewise a metabolism that runs well on mostly carbohydrates will be sluggish on heavy protein and fat.

The biochemistry that runs our metabolism can vary greatly from one person to another.  

My own personal experience with this came to light when my partner and I ate the same foods and he was constantly hypoglycemic while I had steady energy all day.  It was the 90’s, so like everyone else we were eating low fat, no red meat and mostly carbohydrates.  

Because we owned health clubs, we were working out most days and burning off the sugar flooding our systems from all the carbohydrates, so we weren’t putting on body fat or becoming diabetic as can happen on this type of diet.

However, because he was a “protein type” and I am a “carbohydrate type”, we were burning through our nutrients at different rates.  I could go for hours on just an apple, but his blood sugar would drop after 30 minutes. 

A system of metabolic typing was developed based on the early research of the dentist Dr. Weston Price, and later works of Dr. Roger Williams, Dr. Royal Lee, and Dr. William Kelly, among others, and made popular by the book “Metabolic Typing Diet” by William Wolcott.  

It divides people into three basic types; protein, carbohydrate and mixed, meaning your metabolism runs best on either a higher percentage of protein and fat, a higher percentage of carbohydrates, or a more even combination of all three.  

This is determined in general by how your body oxidizes, or burns through the nutrients you eat, by which branch of the autonomic nervous system is driving your metabolism, and by how your hormones influence your metabolism.

For instance, a protein type burns through their nutrients quickly and therefore needs more protein and fat to slow that process down.

A carb. type oxidizes nutrients slowly so adding too much protein and fat slows them down to the point of fatigue and lethargy. 

Protein types are typically influenced by the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, and carbohydrate types by the sympathetic branch.  The dominant endocrine system varies person to person. 

This is really the “Reader’s Digest” explanation, as there are nine fundamental homeostatic control mechanisms that influence your metabolism.  

No wonder it takes a computer program to sort it out.  Blood type is only one of the nine. Interestingly, my partner and I had the same blood type, but we needed to eat very differently to stay balanced.  

You can see examples of biochemical individuality everywhere in the “diet” world.  

One group of people swear by the vegan lifestyle, while another group declares that the Paleolithic diet with plenty of animal protein is the way to perfect health.  

So who’s right?  They both are.  

Just as the Atkins diet of high fat, low carbohydrates, and the Pritikin diet of low fat, high carbohydrates have both helped thousands of people become healthier.  

Despite their differing views on percentages of nutrients, the successful plans all call for whole, natural unprocessed foods, daily exercise and positive belief systems.  

Once you find which ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrates is best to balance your body’s chemistry, excess body fat will be replaced by excess energy.  

One size really does not fit all.  That's why it is important to have a personalized eating plan designed for your specific metabolism.

For a personalized nutrition plan, and guidance and support on your path to a healthy metabolism, contact me at, or call me at 301-332-5732.  Please click here for my nutrition services.