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Fat protein efficient vs. carbohydrate efficient, which is best for you?


What does it mean to be fat protein efficient?

This is a common question from women looking to understand how they should be eating to support their exercise efforts and weight loss goals.

If you’ve ever wondered how some people can eat an endless amount of carbohydrates but never seem to put on weight, then you’re not alone!

Your metabolism is the link between what you eat and how your body processes, stores and converts the energy from food. 

Experts generally agree that people process carbohydrates, fat and protein differently. 

Understanding your metabolic type could just be the secret to unlock what you should be eating to lose weight. 

When done properly, harnessing your metabolic type can be game-changing. 

But what exactly is your metabolic type and what does it mean to be fat protein efficient?

In this guide we’ll explore:

  • What is the metabolic typing diet?
  • What is metabolic type?
  • What are the benefits of being fat protein efficient?
  • What foods should you eat to be fat protein efficient?
  • Does the fat protein efficient diet actually work?
  • Fat protein efficient meal plan


Let’s jump in!

fat protein efficient

What is the metabolic typing diet?

The metabolic typing diet is based on the belief that everyone digests and metabolises protein, carbohydrates and fat differently. 

How different is based on factors such as: 

  • Genetics
  • Body type
  • Lifestyle
  • Reactivity of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system

Dr Weston A Price first researched the diet in the 1930s when he uncovered the link between modern eating habits and the incidence of chronic degenerative illness.

Dr Price discovered that there is no such thing as a ‘healthy diet’ and there is no one size fits all approach.

This is mainly due to there being huge variations in ethnic and cultural groups as well as environmental conditions.

Genetic and hereditary factors are also at play here.

One of the examples given to explain this is that many people who live in tropical or equatorial regions have a strong hereditary need for diets high in carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.

These foods provide the energy that is most compatible with the unique body chemistry of people who are genetically programmed to lead active lifestyles in warm and humid regions. 

Adding that their systems are not designed to process large quantities of animal protein and fat. 

Related: The best protein food for runners: What you should know about protein

What is metabolic type?

Your metabolic type can be used to understand what types of foods you should be eating to support your health and in some cases your weight loss goals. 

Your metabolism is key when it comes to losing weight. 

There are three metabolic types:

  • Fat protein efficient
  • Carbohydrate efficient
  • Mixed metabolism

Fat protein efficient

What does it mean to be fat protein efficient?

You are fat protein efficient if you have a better ability to digest high protein and high fat foods.

This metabolic type does not work well with low calorie diets. 

Here are the signs that you could be fat protein efficient:

  • You have a strong appetite.
  • You are hungry often.
  • You like to start your day with a solid breakfast.
  • You crave salty foods more than sweet foods.
  • You feel tired and unsatisfied after eating high-carb meals. 
  • You crash after eating a high-carb meal.

The macronutrient breakdown for fat protein efficiency is:

  • 60% of calories from fat
  • 30% of calories from protein
  • 10% of calories from carbohydrates

Related: Zero calorie foods: The complete guide

Carbohydrate efficient

You are carbohydrate efficient if you have a better ability to oxidise foods slowly. 

It is more difficult to turn protein and fat into energy – this is why it’s important to consume carbohydrates for energy.

Here are the signs that you could be carbohydrate efficient:

  • You typically eat light meals.
  • You are not hungry as often. 
  • You crave sweet foods more than salty foods.
  • You feel sluggish after eating animal proteins and nuts.
  • You are more likely to struggle with weight loss.
  • You are not considered a high energy person.

The macronutrient breakdown for carbohydrate efficiency is:

  • 10% of calories from fat
  • 20% of calories from protein
  • 70% of calories from carbohydrates

Mixed metabolism

A mixed metabolism is the best of both worlds.

If you have this metabolic type, you don’t typically struggle with your weight and you can eat a diet that is balanced between carbohydrates, fats and proteins. 

Here are the signs that you could have a mixed metabolism:

  • You have a healthy appetite.
  • You have cravings for sweet and salty/savoury foods in equal measure.
  • You don’t typically struggle with weight loss and weight gain.

The macronutrient breakdown for a mixed metabolism is:

  • 33.33% of calories from fat 
  • 33.33% of calories from protein
  • 33.33% of calories from carbohydrates

Related: Carb loading for runners: Foods to eat and mistakes to avoid

fat protein efficient

Related: 6 of the best supplements for runners

What are the benefits of being fat protein efficient?

It is thought that a fat protein efficient diet helps you to consume less refined carbs and processed foods overall, and consume more nutritionally dense foods. 

The fat protein efficient diet is also more individualised than diets like Keto, Atkins and Paleo which can be quite restrictive and more rigid in structure. 

Here are the benefits of being fat protein efficient. 

#1 Reduce intake of refined carbohydrates and processed foods

The primary benefit of a fat protein efficient diet is that it helps you to decrease your consumption of refined carbohydrates and processed foods.

Refined carbohydrates and processed foods are often linked to health complications and chronic diseases. 

Unrefined carbohydrates, or carbohydrates from whole sources, provide more health benefits.

#2 Increase intake of non-starchy vegetables and low carb fruits

There are two types of vegetables: starchy and non-starchy.

Starch is a type of carbohydrate that your body breaks down into glucose. 

Both types of vegetables are high in nutrients, minerals and antioxidants, but there are a few key differences. 

Starchy vegetables are higher in carbohydrates so are more likely to cause spikes in your blood sugar levels.

Starchy vegetablesNon-starchy vegetables
Higher in calories
Higher in carbohydrates
Have less fibre

Recommendation is to limit starchy vegetables to about ¼ of your plate.

Examples: corn, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, green peas, butternut squash, carrots, turnips.
High in fibre
Lower in sugar
Lower in carbohydrates (normally 5g per serving)

Recommendation is to fill about ½ your plate with non-starchy vegetables. 

Examples: black olives, purple cabbage, asparagus, sprouts, cabbage, red peppers, tomatoes, summer squash.

#3 Helps to avoid restrictive and fad diets

Fad diets and diets like Keto, Paleo and Atkins are highly restrictive which are not sustainable over time. 

A lot of fad diets also focus on being very low in calories and fat, which may not be necessarily good for your health. 

When you cut lots of calories you deprive your body from the fuel it needs to perform daily functions. 

Related: What to eat before a run: Foods to eat and mistakes to avoid

fat protein efficient

What foods should you eat to be fat protein efficient?

You may be wondering: “What is a fat protein efficient diet?”

In order to be successful with the FPE diet, you need to consume certain types of fats and proteins to give your body what it needs to keep your metabolism going.

Here’s how to eat a fat protein efficient diet.

Fat and protein efficient metabolism food list

  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna
  • Dairy like cottage cheese, yoghurt and whole milk
  • Full-fat yoghurt 
  • Meats like red meat, chicken and beef liver
  • Pork
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts and pecans
  • Legumes like chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans
  • Seeds like sunflower, pumpkin and chia
  • Oils like olive oil and coconut oil
  • Low carb green vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli and cucumbers
  • Low carb fruits like berries, kiwi and oranges 

Related: Is CrossFit bad for you? Benefits + risks of CrossFit for runners

Does the fat protein efficient diet actually work?

There is mixed evidence online regarding the success of the metabolic typing diet.

One 2008 study looked at the physiological analysis of the metabolic typing diet in professional rugby union players.

It found that the metabolic typing diet results did not accurately reflect the actual metabolic processes in a usable way. 

Whereas on the other hand, according to a 2020 study, there is strong evidence that metabolic phenotyping is a promising strategy to identify groups at risk of health issues.

Adding that it can also potentially improve health promotion at a population level. 

The fat protein efficient diet in particular does have its downsides. 

Some would argue that it does not provide the acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) – with the majority of your macronutrients coming from protein sources. 

Research tells us that the AMDR is:

  • 55-75% for carbohydrates
  • 15-25% for fat
  • 7-20% for protein

These ranges have been set because food consumption within these ranges plays a role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases. 

One study found that intake outside the ADMR was significantly associated with hypertension (high blood pressure) in Korean adults. 

There are also a range of factors that the metabolic typing diet does not consider, which are all crucial for good health. These include:

  • Gut health
  • Chronic conditions and diseases
  • Medications
  • Stress levels
  • Sleep
  • Hydration
  • Physical activity

There is also evidence that a more equal and balanced macronutrient distribution is better for weight loss.

The bottom line? Following a fat protein efficient diet won’t adversely harm your health.

If you follow the diet and it works for you, then great!

However, if at any point you start to feel sluggish or tired, then this may be a sign that the diet may not be right for you.

Related: What to eat before running in the morning: 8 eating tips

fat protein efficient

Fat protein efficient meal plan

Here is a sample meal plan for the fat protein efficient diet.


  • Scrambled eggs and avocado or sliced salmon on whole grain toast (cooked in coconut oil)
  • 1 cup of berries with full-fat yoghurt

Mid-morning snack

  • Sliced green apple with peanut or almond butter


  • Grilled chicken with cherry tomatoes and broccoli

Afternoon snack

  • Handful of nuts


  • Grilled tuna with quinoa and vegetables


  • 1 cup of sliced strawberries
  • 1-2 squares of dark chocolate
Caroline Geoghegan