Diet by the Book

Atkins, Sears and Shapiro are right up there on the bestseller lists with authors Clancy, King and Steel. The popularity of diet books continues to soar, so we decided to check out a new one on the shelves: The Metabolic Typing Diet (Doubleday, 2000) by William L. Wolcott.

Tester: Lori Davis, 41. “I exercise every day and eat a sensible diet. Nevertheless, an annoying extra 10 pounds has taken up residence on my hips and thighs.”

Product claims: Permanent weight loss and optimum health, high energy, the prevention and reversal of disease and youthfulness at any age.

Cost: $23.95 for the book.

What type? To determine my metabolic type, I took the 65-question quiz, which asked everything from the thickness of my fingernails to how I felt about potatoes. The answers placed you in one of three categories: Carbo, Protein or Mixed. Your diet is then based on that. Mixed types, the category I fell into, are advised to eat 50 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat.

Getting started: The first week, I could eat as many proteins and fats as I wanted. But, I had to eliminate sugar, alcohol, fruit juices and many carbohydrates. I felt sick the entire week — headaches and flu-like symptoms. According to the book, these withdrawal symptoms aren’t uncommon. The next week, I could slowly add carbs back into my diet until I was eating the recommended mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat. But I still felt tired and slow. The biggest change for me was having protein at every meal. I exchanged my morning bagel for eggs and toast, ate tuna salad for lunch and traded pasta for meat or fish. The new “balance” was supposed to eliminate my cravings. That never happened, and I thought I’d go crazy without a few chocolate chip cookies!

Missing ingredient: Exercise. Only four pages of this 400-page book mention anything about the importance of physical activity.

Best part: I didn’t have to count calories.

Results: After eight weeks, I lost a grand total of one pound and 1 1/2 inches.

Analysis: I’m going back to counting calories — and chocolate chip cookies!

Expert opinion: “Your body is not a science fair project,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., author of Fight Fat After Forty (Viking, 2000). “The answer is never just one thing, such as metabolism, heredity or blood type.” To make your metabolism more efficient, you need the right combination of nutrition and exercise — and the right mental attitude to make that happen.

What you have in your mind?