Understanding Your Weight Loss Type: Personalized Methods From An Integrative MD
If you've tried to lose weight this year and struggled to see any progress, chances are you're making a common mistake: using an approach that's not tailored to your individual needs.
Understanding how nature, biology, and modern life interact within your body can restore internal harmony and unlock your ability to achieve the healthy weight you've been working on. And this is even more essential right now as it is inextricably linked to metabolic health.
In my experience as an integrative M.D., sustainable weight loss happens when you optimize diet, hormones, exercise, and even mindset—by restoring balance to your individual chemistry.
Benefits of personalized weight loss.
Whether it's finding the right macronutrient ratios or deciding whether you should be keto or vegan or something in between, the sheer amount of diet advice becomes quickly overwhelming. But there's one thing all diet fads have in common: They neglect the most important variable—you!
Identifying your own personal weight loss type can give you insight into which diet and lifestyle practices best pair with your body and personality. That's why I created five unique weight loss types, based on teachings from ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, along with clinical knowledge on weight and weight loss.
In Eastern systems of medicine, all data points matter: your overall energy, personality, body type, and nutritional needs. When we add technology, lab testing, and research to this puzzle, the results are magical.
Types of weight loss.
Each of the five weight loss types below should follow a slightly different protocol when it comes to restoring balance to the body and finding an individualized healthy weight:
1. The Warrior
If your weight loss type is a Warrior, you can handle life's stressors pretty well—until you can't. When you're overwhelmed, you tend to store tension in your gut, leading to digestive troubles and inflammation. Warrior types should focus on liver health, as this organ can be one of your main weaknesses, also.
Strategies to try: Warrior types often do well eliminating potentially inflammatory proteins like gluten and dairy and will want to prioritize healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and coconut. If you're a Warrior, you'll likely thrive with a mix of high-intensity activity followed by more calming movements like yoga or tai chi.
2. The Protector
You'll find this type usually has a medium to large build and will struggle to lose weight in most situations. Protectors tend to put others' needs above their own in their family. If you're a Protector, you may have an overgrowth of Candida or similar bacteria imbalance in your gut that creates uncomfortable bloating.
Strategies to try: As a Protector, you'll likely begin weight loss by reducing sugar, refined carbs, and alcohol to reduce any Candida present. Limiting sugar will also promote healthy insulin levels, which is key for Protectors' healthy weight.
3. The Anchor
Like the Protector, as an Anchor, you frequently put others' well-being before your own, but you are the center of your community and very goal-driven. This duality often creates more stress, which can lead to hormone imbalances that affect your weight.
You'll want to be mindful of hormone imbalance symptoms like waking up at 3 a.m., holding fat around the belly and breasts, or losing scalp hair. Anchors struggle to lose weight if cortisol, estrogen, and insulin aren't in healthy ranges.
Strategies to try: Anchors notice better mental clarity and a healthy weight with some intermittent fasting, more protein, and plenty of healthy fats. As an Anchor you're likely to have success with a low-carb eating pattern, which is why cycling the keto diet may be helpful.
4. The Creative
Medium to smaller builds, more creative, and more intuitive, the Creative weight loss type needs a structured eating pattern and consistent protein through the day. The Creative, also prone to anxiety and trouble focusing, is at risk for having a lot of blood sugar highs and lows through the day, which then affect overall mood. Cortisol is the at-risk hormone for the Creative, and the cause of stubborn belly fat, afternoon slumps, or being wired at night but tired all day long. Intermittent fasting is not recommended for the Creative.
Strategies to try: In addition to protein, you will want to prioritize iron to nourish your adrenal glands and support a stable mood. A more paleo style of eating is often helpful for the Creative, with complex carbohydrates from sweet potatoes, quinoa, or other higher-protein, gluten-free grains. Adrenal-balancing exercises that don't raise cortisol are key, such as walking, yoga, Pilates, or swimming.
5. The Trailblazer
The most dynamic weight loss type is a blend of Warrior and Creative. Both innovative and goal-oriented, Trailblazers are often entrepreneurs or project managers—multitasking pros. If you're a Trailblazer, you may find you frequently burn the candle at both ends, and struggle to fuel yourself properly. Structure and routine are key for you.
Strategies to try: As a Trailblazer, you'll likely not find success with intermittent fasting and will want to eat a balanced, high-protein meal about every four hours. A green smoothie is beneficial to make sure your body can support liver function, along with a mix of healthy fats. An anti-inflammatory, paleo diet is best for the Trailblazer with a mix of protein, healthy fats, and plant-based foods.
(If you're curious to determine your own weight loss type, take the quiz!)
Tips to keep in mind during your personalized weight journey:
Balance your energy.
Ever tried to juggle too many things at once and end up unable to accomplish any of the tasks you set out to do? This is a good analogy for trying to lose weight when your body is out of balance.
For example, if you're a Creative, high-energy workouts will most likely drain you of motivation, leaving you lacking when it comes time to prepare food or practice self-care. On the other hand, if you're a Warrior, high-intensity workouts will leave you feeling energized and charged to take on the day.
Finding the right balance will allow you to devote energy and focus to all areas of healthy weight loss, instead of obsessing over one aspect and ignoring another.
Know your weight loss weaknesses.
Depending on your type, your body is prone to different imbalances or weaknesses that can stall weight loss progress or make you more susceptible to weight gain.
One of the most common mistakes everyone makes when trying to improve health or lose weight is neglecting a restful night's sleep. All the types experience sluggish digestion, increased cravings, or weight gain around the stomach when they miss out on needed sleep. The Creative and the Trailblazer feel this the most.
Digestive function is also key for all types and especially for the Protector, Anchor, and Warrior types, who tend to be prone to a yeasty gut or an inflamed gut—both of which can cause weight gain.
Eat for your weight loss type.
For all types, if you're struggling to lose weight, I often recommend omitting both gluten and dairy, as these foods can be inflammatory.
Anti-inflammatory foods are also important for promoting hormone balance and digestive function, especially for Warriors, Anchors, and Trailblazers. Begin by omitting sensitivities and incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods and spices, such as turmeric, ginger, blueberries, pineapple, and celery.
Protein is key for Anchors to support adrenal function, while Protector types may want to limit their intake of red meat in favor of more easily digested proteins.
You'll want to omit sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol if you're a type who struggles with Candida overgrowth, most commonly Anchors and Protectors. This type of yeast overgrowth can cause bloating, fatigue, joint pain, and weight gain—but it's often a latent infection overlooked at most doctors' visits.
Optimize your lifestyle habits.
Curious about which lifestyle patterns and activities will further support your type's weight loss and better health?
Exercise and movement are a key component to overall balance and weight loss, and finding out which kind of movement is optimal for your type can give you the freedom to enjoy it. Rather than pushing through a grueling HIIT routine, you may learn your type does better with more mobility or flexibility-oriented exercise, like the Creative and Trailblazer. Warriors and Anchors do well to alternate higher-intensity exercise with a day of adrenaline-lowering exercise, such as yoga or tai chi.
Self-care is important for all weight loss types, as stress can spike both insulin and cortisol, increasing visceral fat (the fat we store around our abdomen and vital organs), and sabotaging our best weight loss plans. Budget two to three hours per week for stress management and cortisol lowering activities, including acupuncture, massage, yoga, or just getting outside.
Putting it all together.
No matter what your weight loss type, I always recommend listening to your body. Your weight loss type is a framework for helping you reach your goals, but it's also a tool to help you interpret feedback your body provides.
A healthy weight isn't about what you see on the outside. Optimizing diet, exercise, hormonal balance, and digestive function helps you to feel your best and reach your goals of super-powered well-being.