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Why You Should Be Personalising Your Diet

January 2018Words by Mr Ashley Clarke

Illustrations by Mr Giacomo Bagnara

We’re mere days into the new year and, though you may already find yourself knee deep in the ascetic mire of paleo and ketogenic diets, Veganuaryalcohol abstinence and intermittent fasting, you may want to put down that handful of almonds intended to suppress your Snickers craving, and wrap your chops around this. According to two Israeli scientists, Professor Eran Segal and Dr Eran Elinav, successful diets don’t depend on foods at all; they depend on people. “Every food affects every body differently… What if each person requires a different diet tailored to his or her own body composition?” they write in their book The Personalized Diet, which is based on an extensive study, the Personalized Nutrition Project, which “we believe has the potential to shift the very foundations of nutrition science”.

The key to their research doesn’t involve as much sweat and tears as most transformative diets, but it does involve some blood. Blood glucose levels, to be precise, and recording them after every meal (you can pick up a monitor relatively cheaply from your local pharmacy or drug store). Monitoring your blood sugar levels for a month, the scientists argue, will allow you to identify which foods spike your insulin levels the most and therefore put you more at risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes. By avoiding these foods, you should lose weight. In the book, one subject finds that sushi and fruit salad spiked their blood sugar levels more than wine and chocolate. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you can live on Malbec and Mars bars. “If you take in a lot more energy than your body needs, regardless of blood sugar, you will store that extra energy as fat,” say Professor Segal and Dr Elinav. But it does mean certain foods will give you more energy for their calorific buck. See below for their key tips for tailoring your diet.