If you’ve ever wondered why you’re not losing weight even though you’re eating “right,” it could be because you’re not eating the right diet for you. This makes sense when you consider that people come in all shapes and sizes, and from different cultural backgrounds. How could we all follow the exact same eating strategies and still have success? The concept that there are different ideal eating strategies for different people is the basis behind the Hunter/Farmer diet solution developed by Mark Liponis, M.D., corporate medical director at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass. The idea is backed up by an emerging field of research called nutrigenetics, which looks at how a person’s genes affect their metabolism and their risk for weight-related diseases.
What researchers are learning is that some of us are predisposed to metabolize fat better (Dr. Liponis calls these people Hunters), while others can easily use grains for energy (these are Dr. Liponis’s Farmers). The metabolism of Hunters resembles that of our hunter/gatherer ancestors, who lived before farming was developed. This group has trouble efficiently metabolizing grains, and should therefore stick mainly to a low-carbohydrate strategy. Farmers have the opposite issue—they gain weight if they eat too much fat, so they should follow a primarily low-fat plan that emphasizes whole grains.
Following an eating strategy that fits your metabolism, whether it’s Hunter or Farmer, will help change the way you think about food and about diets in general, and it might even give you the weight-loss success you’ve been looking for. You can take this quiz, created by Dr. Liponis, to figure out your metabolic type. Once you know if you’re a Hunter or a Farmer (or somewhere in between), you’ll be able to choose an eating plan that’s geared mostly toward the foods that are right for you. The great thing about this solution is that it emphasizes focusing mainly on your ideal foods, without asking you to give any food up completely. Think moderation, not deprivation.
These recipes from the Canyon Ranch kitchen can provide direction and inspiration for dishes that fit your metabolism:
What Should Hunters Eat?
If you have the metabolism of a hunter, you’ll be healthier choosing a plan centered around lean meats and veggies, and low on carbs.
The ultimate Hunter recipe packs protein from eggs and cheese, plus colorful veggies.
Elevate this classic salad with homemade dressing and a decadent protein.
Enjoy grains in moderation as a crunchy topper to this chilled seafood dish.
Cremini mushrooms add a satisfying umami flavor to a protein-rich main course.
This holiday, try swapping turkey for scallops with a tangy cranberry dressing.
Substituting turkey for red meat cuts down on calories without sacrificing flavor.
Cauliflower subs in for potatoes in this mash, since Hunters should eat starchy veggies in moderation.
A spice rub and a sauce with a kick add tons of flavor to a simple white fish.
It’s easy to find the ingredients for this recipe’s Middle Eastern herb blend in many grocery stores.
Whole-wheat croutons add some reasonable carbs to this yummy salad.
What Should Farmers Eat?
People with a Farmer metabolism will find it easier to achieve their healthy weight on a low-fat diet that emphasizes whole grains.
You can eat pancakes! Keep them whole-wheat, and top them with berries for an antioxidant boost.
Granola is a satisfying grain-rich superstar—a great breakfast option for Farmers.
Low-fat ricotta cheese and powdered sugar or honey with fruit…yum!
Why go store-bought when you catch whip up a batch of sweet-and-spicy barbeque sauce at home?
Use pecans for crunch and flax seeds for healthy omega-3 fatty acids in this hearty loaf.
Skip the typically fatty meat and go heavy on the beans the next time you’re whipping up a batch of chili.
You don’t have to forgo delicious (but fatty) avocados—just a dollop goes a long way in this delicious salad.
Beans and legumes are staples for Farmers, so it’s no surprise they’re the star of this easy-to-make soup.
Scampi is traditionally heavy on the butter, but just 1 teaspoon suffices in our version.
Top this super-simple tomato sauce on a pasta of your choice.