If you've tried diets that never work, you feel bloated, have mood swings or are low on energy, nutritionist Pippa Campbell is here to help. Discover the metabolic way of eating that's right for you
When people come to see functional nutritionist and metabolic balance coach Pippa Campbell, they are often at their wits’ end. Most are focused on their weight: they’ve tried endless diets and nothing has worked. Pippa’s approach is to shift the conversation from what you weigh to how you feel.
“80 per cent of new clients have told me that their number one goal is to lose weight, so they are often surprised when in our first consultation, we don’t talk much about food or calories,” she says.
She asks how you’re sleeping, whether you have cravings, how your energy levels are, whether you have bloating, constipation, PMS, brain fog and so on. In her experience, people who find it hard to shift pounds - if that's what they desire - always report other symptoms too, and it's not a coincidence. "People are amazed when I tell them there's a link between their symptoms and not being able to lose weight, but I see this every day in clinic."
That’s the disconnect she aims to fix, in her new book Eat Right Lose Weight: 7 Metabolic Types, Which One Are You?
Once your body’s systems are operating as they should, weight loss will happen,” she says and encourages everyone to shift from a “weight loss mindset to a 'well-you' mindset.”
Her mission is to make everyone – whether weight loss is a concern or not – feel “well, energetic and vibrant” by finding a way of eating that suits their metabolic type. Her training in nutrigenomics, the science of how our genes interact with what we eat, has taught her that nutrition is much more nuanced and bespoke than a calories-in-calories-out approach. “We each need to work with our personal genetic makeup in order to optimise our metabolism.”
While you can take a genetic test with Pippa to discover highly personalised information, her years of working with thousands of women have led her to devise a questionnaire so you can find out which one of seven main metabolic types you are. In her book, there is a 21-day eating plan with recipes for each type to kickstart simple habits for life. “By addressing the underlying body system that’s imbalanced in your Metabolic Type, you will lose weight,“ she says.
For us, Pippa has given us some exclusive top-line tips for each type, below.
It’s quiz time! Over to you, Pippa.
How to find your Metabolic Type
“This is the exciting part where you turn detective to find out more about how your body is functioning,“ says Pippa. “When I am looking for each client’s ‘why?’ with regards to their weight, my first tool is always their symptoms. Diagnosis is the most critical part of the Pippa Campbell Method (PCM).
"DNA tests and functional tests are good to have, but what some clients have called my ‘endless’ questioning is at the heart of it all. Our bodies are very often trying to tell us what is going wrong with them in a multitude of ways. We just have to learn to speak their language.
“I’ve recreated the approach I use in clinic, as much as I can without sitting in front of you. You’ll see that I’ve divided the questions into seven sections or Metabolic Types, one for each of the body systems that I’ve found are most likely to be going wrong in someone who can’t lose weight or keeps putting it on. In each section, I’ve included a list of ten signs and symptoms that, according to my training and experience, are most likely to show up in the people I treat with an imbalance in that body system.
“To find your Metabolic Type, simply tick all the signs and symptoms that you have. The section where you have the most ticks, is your type.”
Once you’ve done this, read on for Pippa’s suggestions for your type, describing what to eat and how to change your lifestyle to suit your body and needs.
Which signs and symptoms do you have?
Metabolic type: Digestion
- Belching or gas
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Food intolerances
- Stomach cramps and/or pain
- Anaemia unresponsive to iron
- Constipation or diarrhoea, or less than one bowel movement a day, or all three
- Anus itching or thrush
- Sinus congestion, eczema or asthma
- Brain fog
Metabolic type: Insulin
- Fatigue after meals
- General fatigue
- Constant hunger
- Cravings for sweet foods or any carbs that is not relieved by eating them
- Must have something sweet after meals
- Waist girth is equal or larger than hip girth
- Frequent urination
- Increased appetite and thirsty
- Difficulty losing weight
- Migrating aches and pains
Metabolic type: Cortisol
- Weight gain that’s especially around the stomach
- ‘Tired but wired’
- Poor sleep
- Shaky if meals are missed
- Cravings for starchy foods or sugars
- Irritability or ‘short fuse’
- Unable to deal with stress
- High blood pressure
Metabolic type: Detox
- Weight goes up and down/inability to lose weight/ unexplained weight gain
- Night sweats
- Skin problems such as rashes, itchy skin, dermatitis and psoriasis
- Poor cognition, brain fog, memory problems
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Low mood, irritability, anxiety
- Strong body odour
- Bloating or constipation
- Adverse reactions to food and drink (especially additives or processed foods), chemicals, pollution and sensitive to smells
Metabolic type: Thyroid
- Feeling tired or sluggish
- Feeling cold – hands, feet, all over
- Require excessive amounts of sleep to function well
- Gaining weight easily and/or weight gain despite dieting
- Low mood and lack of motivation
- Morning headaches
- Loss of outer third of eyebrow
- Thinning hair or excessive hair loss
- Mentally sluggish
Metabolic type: oestrogen
- PMS or PMDD
- Irregular periods, heavy bleeding
- Irritability or rage
- Bloating or poor digestion
- Anxiety, panic attacks, low mood, mood swings
- Insomnia or restlessness but feeling tired
- Fertility issues
- Endometriosis, fibroids or cysts
- Headaches more likely to be around ovulation and/or in the run up to your period
- Breast tenderness, fibrocystic lumps in breasts
Metabolic type: serotonin
- Low mood or depression
- Feeling ‘flat’ and lack of joy from life’s pleasures
- Feelings of inner rage or anger
- Less resilient to stress
- SAD (seasonal affective disorder – feeling down in winter), carb cravings
- Increased appetite
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Poor sleep or unable to fall into a deep restful sleep
What to do if you have an equal score in the quiz?
“If you have two sections with the same number of ticks, go with the one where the symptoms are bothering you the most. All body systems that the 21-day plan tackles are interlinked, so changing one will likely affect your other symptoms too, a kind of domino effect. After 21 days, your body will have changed and you can go back and take the quiz again, to see which Metabolic Type is now the most relevant. The plan is about making your whole body healthy, so you won’t be doing any harm by concentrating on one area over another.”
What to eat, according to your metabolic type
If your metabolic type is… Digestion Type
If the Digestion Type isn’t your main type, it will come a close second. Women who are this metabolic type can expect to experience symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, gas, burping and reflux.
There can also be other symptoms which on the face of things, seem less connected. Poor sleep, emotional lows, brain fog and poor immunity are common.
Bad digestion can hinder weight loss, cause toxins to be recirculated in the body and not eliminated efficiently, hinder absorption of nutrients and inhibit gut bacteria diversity.
Luckily, there’s lots we can do to improve things:
- Chew your food well (this starts the production of digestive enzymes which helps our body to digest food properly)
- Take 5 minutes to breathe before you eat
- Eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. Eat 1 tablespoon of either of these DAILY!
- Eating plenty of vegetables each day helps increase fibre intake which is essential for good digestion
- Eat raw foods - onion and garlic are brilliant prebiotics
- Eat bitter foods to support bile production; radishes, artichokes, turmeric. Bile helps us to break down fats
- Eat zinc-rich foods to help the production of stomach acid; broccoli, seafood, mushrooms
If your metabolic type is… The Insulin Type
Women who are the Insulin Type tell me that all they think about is food. Cravings are hellish and most women are drawn to sweet sugary snacks.
The Insulin Type struggles to feel satisfied after food and experiences regular slumps during the day.
Symptoms can include fatigue after meals, constant hunger, waist girth equal or more than hip girth, frequent urination, and difficulty losing weight.
So how can food help?
Balancing leptin and ghrelin, the hunger hormones, is key.
- Consume 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar each day
- Focus on low GI foods e.g. proteins, healthy fats, non-starchy veg like cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach
- Start the day with a breakfast which doesn’t spike your blood sugar e.g. eggs and spinach
- Eat foods rich in chromium which helps insulin sensitivity; eggs, beans, tomato, beef, turkey
If your metabolic type is… The Cortisol Type
Women who are the Cortisol Type will suffer symptoms such as difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, feel ‘tired but wired’ and stressed much of the time.
We should experience raised cortisol levels when we are ‘in danger’ but then levels will drop. For the Cortisol Type, levels don’t recede as they should once out of danger.
Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can affect other hormones such as insulin, thyroid, oestrogen and progesterone. It can also promote visceral fat and cause carb cravings.
How can we manage cortisol levels?
- Eat a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds on one day and walnuts the next - alternate these daily
- Eat adequate protein and vitamin B foods; meat, poultry, fish
- Eat regularly. Try to have breakfast within an hour of waking.
- Don’t fast for too long (maximum 12-13 hours overnight)
- Eat antioxidant rich foods; colourful fruit and veg, green tea, olive oil, oily fish, dried herbs and spices, berries
If your metabolic type is… The Detox Type
If you’re the Detox Type, you’ll be familiar with symptoms such as weight that goes up and down, night sweats, headaches, skin problems, fatigue, bloating, and brain fog.
Our body, primarily our liver, has to detox everything we eat, smell, breathe, and touch. It even has to detox our own used hormones such as oestrogen.
If this process is not running smoothly, your whole body is affected. Good gut health is also important as this helps keep toxins out of the blood stream.
We can support our body with the detoxification process by:
- Eat 2 cups of leafy greens daily
- Cutting down on saturated fat
- Eating more cruciferous veg like broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, red cabbage, watercress, rocket
- Eating sulphur-rich foods such as garlic, onion, shallots, asparagus
- Eating antioxidant rich foods such as colourful fruit and vegetables
If your metabolic type is… The Thyroid Type
This woman feels like she only has to look at a piece of cake to put on weight! Other diets seem to work for people and not her. Weight loss just seems impossible even though she’s eating well and exercising.
The most common thyroid problem is hypothyroidism (low thyroid) and it not only causes weight issues, but causes symptoms such as low mood, lack of motivation, morning headaches, and cold hands and feet.
Improvements in diet and lifestyle can make a real difference:
- Eat a tablespoon of seaweed each day
- Selenium and iodine are both important for a healthy thyroid function. Sources include fish, seafood, seaweed, egg, mushrooms
- Organic liver is brilliant if you eat meat
- Vitamin D and Zinc are important for healthy thyroid function and can be found in mushrooms, eggs and pumpkin seeds
- Limit phone usage (thyroid hormones can be affected by waves emitted from phone)
- Filter your water
- Reduce stress levels
If your metabolic type is… The Oestrogen Type
If you have too much oestrogen floating around your body, you could be the Oestrogen Type. Although we need oestrogen for lots of things, too much of it will cause problems.
Symptoms include PMS, irritability, bloating, irregular periods, heavy bleeding, fibroids, and low mood/anxiety.
The Oestrogen Type is ‘oestrogen dominant’ and this can cause issues losing weight, impact the thyroid and affect the body’s response to insulin.
How can we balance things? One of the easiest ways is to switch to a diet that supports the body’s detoxification process. This will help us to get rid of any used oestrogen we are hanging on to.
- Eat cruciferous vegetables which are super oestrogen balancers; broccoli, cabbage, watercress, sauerkraut, mustard greens, kale and rocket
- Eat 2 tablespoons of broccoli sprouts every day!
- Eat sulphur-rich foods such as beetroot, shallots and garlic
- Phytoestrogen foods occur naturally in foods and mimic your own body’s oestrogen but in a helpful way. Flaxseeds are a great source as they are full of soluble fibre
If your metabolic type is… The Serotonin Type
If you’re this type, you’re low in serotonin and will experience symptoms such as low mood, feeling ‘flat’, inner feelings of rage or anger, less resilient to stress, carb cravings, increased appetite, poor sleep, and SAD.
Many women who are the Serotonin Type, just want to curl up in bed. Serotonin helps us feel emotionally stable, less anxious and more relaxed. It’s also a natural appetite suppressant.
So can we boost our serotonin levels through our diet? Absolutely. Certain foods can help tryptophan, an amino acid, cross into the brain where we need it to make serotonin.
- Eat high tryptophan foods e.g. turkey and chicken are the best sources. Aim for 110g - 150g of chicken or turkey daily. Eggs and tofu are also good.
- Eat good carbs with your evening meal e.g. sweet potato, squash, beetroot
- Eat cruciferous veg e.g. broccoli to help tryptophan balance
- Eat gut-loving foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut. Around 80% of serotonin is produced in the gut so we need it be healthy
Edited extract from: Eat Right, Lose Weight by Pippa Campbell, £7.49 out now.
Pippa’s suggestions are not a substitute for medical advice. “Ask your GP before making any radical changes to your eating. If you have a cancer diagnosis or an eating disorder, please take medical advice before following any of the plans,” says Pippa.