The Beyond Diet claims that you only have to find out your “metabolic type”, then avoid foods not suitable for it and you are good to go on your road to weight loss. In reality, the entire diet is more of a warmed up leftover from science’s soup kitchen. Let’s review it.
Isabel De Los Ridiculos
“Welcome, I’m Isabel De Los Rios”, one of the Beyond Diet’s co-founders greets you on their website, “I’m a certified nutritionist and exercise specialist”.
I don’t think that character assassination is a proper way to evaluate someone’s dieting ideas, but this, right here, before we even have looked further, doesn’t bode well for the Beyond Diet. Anyone who feels like it can call himself a “certified nutritionist”, as the title is not protected, and it’s up to your imagination to find out what exactly makes you an “exercise specialist”.
Things would look different if De Los Rios held the title of a certified dietician – that is protected – and had an exercise instructor certificate from a reputable organization (ACSM, ACE). Maybe I should just call myself Exercise Imperator.
Are You A Carb Type?
But no matter what her qualifications, her diet claims would need nothing short of a Nobel Prize to be taken seriously. It’s just that you usually only get Nobel Prizes in science if you have some heavyweight scientific peer-reviewed artillery to back your claims up.
The basic staple of the Beyond Diet is that you have to find out your “metabolic type”, meaning that we all either are “carb types”, “protein types” or the “mixed type”. As long as you follow the specific ratio of the two that suits your body, you supposedly lose weight, no matter how many calories you actually eat.
The idea about metabolic differences has been around for ages. It started in the 1960s, when a dentist by the name William Donald Kelley wanted to treat cancer by looking at supposed variations in people’s ANS (autonomous nervous system, the system that controls basic body functions outside of our awareness). According to him, we either leaned to the ANS’ sympathetic or para-sympathetic part or were “metabolically balanced”.
Kelley’s claims about metabolism and cancer soon were found to lack evidence, but in his footsteps dozens of “alternative” health practitioners followed, all evaluating your metabolic dispositions with their own specific methods. While Kelley had you fill out a 3,200 item questionnaire, others did hair, blood and / or urine tests. If the same person was tested with different methods, the results usually conflicted with one another, sometimes even when you did the same test with the same place. Quackwatch writes:
In 1985, an undercover investigator who enjoyed excellent health sent two sets of blood and urine test results [...] for interpretation. The blood test values were almost identical, but the investigator drank two glasses of water between urine specimens, which made their pH (acidity) and specific gravity differ. The first report classified the “patient” as: “Primary Type: Adrenal, Secondary Type: Posterior Pituitary, Acid/Alkaline Condition: Acid” and recommended an “acid food plan” plus 13 supplement pills per day. The second report classified the “patient” as: “Primary Type: Adrenal, Secondary Type: Liver Spleen, Acid/Alkaline Condition: Balanced” and recommended a “balanced food plan” plus 10 supplement pills per day.
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The legal battles these people and companies lost is legion, but that doesn’t keep anyone from selling the “metabolic typing” idea under a new cloak: then it was “sympathetic” or “para-sympathetic” and cancer, now it’s carbs, protein and weight.
A dear soul over at sparkpeople.com did a great job of dissecting De Los Rios’ scientific “resources” and after having gone through that, we are left with preciously little. When all the nonsense about metabolic types, what foods you should or shouldn’t eat, what supplements you need (to buy from them) etc., is stripped away, the Beyond Diet simply comes down to eating fewer calories – which is precisely why its website has a calorie calculator.
(We may also, at this point, ask ourselves why a diet website that greets you with “stop counting calories” needs a calorie calculator.)
Personally I have come to divide people into two
metabolic metaphysical types: those who fall for this stuff, and those who don’t.
Picture courtesy of Erich Ferdinand.