Dieting For Your Neurotype Part 1: Type 1A Nutritional Approach
As we often say, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and nowhere is it truer than with nutrition. Almost all types of diets that have been published over the years work to a certain extent (provided that they are not something idiotic like the cabbage soup diet or the cookies diet, and are properly applied). Modern science and knowledge can help us better understand the chemical reactions of our body to foods, exercises and even drugs. Nowadays, there are practically as many methods as there are coaches to teach them. So in the end, why is there so much confusion and lack of results with people trying to get lean?
Although I have been training clients for over 10 years and despite having gotten a lot of people in amazing shape, there were times where I doubted myself as a coach. I couldn’t understanding why so many clients couldn’t reach their goals. Wasn’t I a good enough motivator? Maybe I lacked knowledge? Maybe the clients were not disciplined enough? Who’s fault was it? And why so many people? Maybe you’ve asked yourself the same questions. If you are just someone trying to get lean you might fail to understand why some people you know are getting awesome results from a diet and you aren’t. Well, there’s an answer to that…
The biggest flaw I see in most nutritional approaches is the fact that they ignore individual habits, motivations and triggers. What pushes a person to change their nutritional patterns and allows them to be successful? Most dieting methods work, but there is not such thing as a “universally best” diet. Therefore, I never liked to stick to a brand or any trendy diet. To give you an example, some people think that because a keto approach works for them, it will work for everyone. From a physiological perspective, I’d say yes, but for many it can be a real pain in the ass to stick to this type of eating. It can be hard for them to stay motivated and because of that they will eventually cheat and give up the process. It doesn’t mean that they can’t get lean: but that they should look for a different way.
Enter Neurotyping, a system which has identified 5 major personality classes and defined the best workout approaches for each of them based on neurotransmitter profile, general motivation, recovery capacity, and even the best cardio protocol making the individual most likely to enjoy his workout, stick to his program and last over time. And it works! So, it goes without saying that using the Neurotype to identify the best nutritional approach is the best way to stick to your diet, reach short and long-term goals and also identify the best foods and supplements to use, all while considering the weaknesses of each profile.
In a recent article, Chris discusses how you should approach fat loss based on your Neurotype (https://thibarmy.com/how-should-you-approach-fat-loss/). He explains which approach (fast or slow) is better suited to each. Now, in this series of articles, we will see which kind of diet and macronutrient ratios you should use and how to set it up to optimize function, focus, and also reach different goals: hypertrophy, strength, fat loss, etc. We will also see which foods are the most effective, what meal frequency should be, what supplements to use and when to consume them. All of these based on your own neurotype.
In this first part, I will cover the optimal diet for the Type 1A.
Food And Personality Connection
Type 1A are goal-driven individuals. They will do everything to reach their goal, they are extremists. They are not good at multitasking, so nutrition should be kept simple and straight forward. Whether the goal is fat loss or mass gain, make sure the diet plan focuses on one objective only. They will throw all their willpower into this exclusive goal.
They are usually very motivated and ambitious people. The kind of clients who will step into your office with a precise goal in mind. Type 1A are impatient when it comes to reaching their goals, but as long as the work is related to the objective, they will stay the course.
Since they are goal-driven, the better option is to go balls to the walls and jump right into an intense cycle related to the objective. They need to feel they are ‘’all in’’. Extreme and intense are their keywords and they things in order to get concrete results. So, they need to see results quickly to stay motivated to continue pushing hard. Remember, they are all or nothing, extremists. The key is keeping them focused and motivated.
Don’t get me wrong, they can certainly work for long term goal, but they need to see that they are moving forward. Nothing is worse for a Type 1A than feeling like they are wasting their time, they are not patient!
Tendencies / Bad Habits
Planning their food is a must to avoid stumbling. Because they tend to be very busy and active people, they tend to rely on shakes, protein bars or fast foods, which is not optimal for body composition purposes. The best way to avoid this is to build a plan which allows for frequent small meals. Make sure that they have optional snacks in case of sudden hunger. A simple meal schedule for Type 1A could look like this:
Anytime meal: Take 30-60 minutes pre-workout
-MEAL 1 = Meat & nuts -Proteins + fat (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
-MEAL 2 = Meat + fat + veggies -Intra workout (EAA only, no BCAA)
-MEAL 3 = Meat + veggies + carbs -Post-workout (proteins shake + carbs)
-ANYTIME SNACK = can be nuts & fruits, proteins, something quick and easy to eat
Since they are energetic and spontaneous, write a plan that leaves some freedom for time and frequency of meals. Type 1A are efficient so they can follow a plan, but they need some room for the unexpected things that happen in life. By scheduling ‘’anytime’’ meals, they feel they can eat whenever they need to without a set in stone schedule. This way, they can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner whenever their schedule allows them to. The only meals that are timed according to the workout are the pre, intra and post-workout meals.
Type 1A has a strong CNS (central nervous system) so the need for carbs is lower than most other neurotypes. They can deliver a lot of intensity during a workout but not that much volume. Because of that they can recover and do well at each workout even if carbs are low. They also are those who tend to produce the least amount of cortisol and tolerate stress the best. As such, a lower carbs intake will be much less likely to be catabolic for them compared to a Type 2 or 3.
Most of their carbohydrates should come from vegetables, some fruits and a small amount of starch later in the day. Make sure to start the day with no carbs, this way you can set up their neurotransmitters for the day.
Best vegetables: Artichokes, broccoli, mushrooms, brussels sprout, kale, spinach
Best fruits: Apples, bananas, papayas, watermelon
Best starch, legumes and grains: Black beans, lentils, oats
They are super sensitive to dopamine but have a low baseline level of it, so they can clearly benefit from a higher level of animal protein in their diet. They need the building blocks to make dopamine, which is found in the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine. This will then be converted into LDOPA and dopamine with the interaction of vitamin B6.
The protein requirements can also benefit them to support muscle growth. They usually work for intensity and rely heavily on CNS activation, and should not rely on bodybuilding methods to add muscle mass, but rather on heavy lifting. Adding proteins here can really help as it can increase protein synthesis. This might be more important for them since the type of workout that best suits them doesn’t stimulate protein synthesis as much as a higher volume of work.
Best animal proteins: Beef, chicken, eggs, white fish, turkey, liver
Their vascular system is also pretty strong, as such they need for fat is moderate. Prioritizing fat intake in the morning and also pre-workout will greatly benefit their focus and energy. They are the perfect type for the meat and nuts breakfast. Note that Charles Poliquin, the biggest proponent of the meat and nut breakfast, is a Type 1A: he is goal-driven, extremely competitive, alpha male, outspoken, confident, and loves heavy stuff. So, it’s not surprising that he loves the meat and nuts breakfast so much!
Best fats: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, avocado, egg yolk, pumpkins seeds
Best Macros Ratio
Whether the goal is fat loss or hypertrophy, type 1A will generally benefit from the same macro set up. The reason is simple, they need high protein to build muscle and dopamine and don’t need that much carbs to perform and control cortisol. These are rules that can be applied for a fat loss macro set up too. In this case, the best variable to play with is calories. For hypertrophy, start with a 20% increase in calories from maintenance level, and for fat loss, jump to 35-40% less and add conditioning work like a strongman, sprinting or HIIT.
Type 1A can also tolerate bigger caloric deficits than other neurotypes if they can refeed often. That’s because of their lower volume of work and smaller cortisol output. When your caloric intake is low your body will normally increase cortisol, growth hormone and glucagon to mobilize stored fuel and regular blood sugar levels. Type 1A will rely more on growth hormone and glucagon than cortisol, which is why a big deficit is less detrimental for them than for Types 2 and 3. In fact, they do better if they feel they are working for it, and surprisingly, their training won’t suffer that much from the dieting process if the process is relatively short (think 4 to 6 weeks).
Ideal Macros To Start With
Proteins = 50% to 60%
Fat = 20% to 30%
Carbs = 15% to 25%
If aiming for hypertrophy, shoot for the higher range in carbs and lower range in fat. Do the opposite if fat loss is the goal. Always keep proteins high.
How About Refeeding
Since they do better on a larger caloric deficit, they also need to refeed frequently. A good approach for them is to refeed every 3 to 5 days. This is also good for them as a refeed will stimulate the hormone leptin and regulate satiety and energy balance. The funny thing is that leptin also plays a role in dopamine activity. So, refeeding becomes a regular and useful part of the diet plan.
They should place their refeeding period after a max effort session where they used most of their dopamine. After such a session, they are at risk of crashing (workout hangover) because of the dopamine depletion. Having a refeed at that point can help bring dopamine levels back up, preventing that crash.
Type 1A should refeed with clean foods and higher caloric intake. Sweet stuff can lead to too much of a dopamine release and make it hard to get back on track with their diet. Don’t forget that Type 1A are dopamine super responders, so they will get a much greater pleasure response to crappy food. This means that it is easy for them to get addicted to it which makes it hard to go back on track after their refeed. I’ve known tons of Type 1As who would do great on their diet, have one junk/sugary cheat and not be able to go back on their diet for months.
To recap, when they are trying to get lean:
1) Use a big deficit (up to a 35-40% reduction vs. maintenance levels)
2) Refeed once or twice per week depending on leanness (see Chris’ article to know the proper type of refeed to use: https://thibarmy.com/the-cheating-manifesto/)
3) Use a short blitz approach
Type 1A has a strong CNS but since they heavily rely on it, they will benefit from supplement support to make sure that it stays strong. They don’t need constant support for it, but they will benefit from the strategic use of supplements.
They respond very well to dopamine boosting supplements like tyrosine, theanine and macuna puriens.
They have lower levels of acetylcholine which is one of the reasons why they can’t tolerate a lot of volumes and are stronger than they are explosive. So, adding compounds like Aplha GPC pre-workout during the short term, higher volume phases can allow them to do a bit more volume without crashing. Type 1A that need to do explosive work will also benefit from Alpha-GPC as raising acetylcholine will increase the sensitivity of the stretch reflex, making them more explosive.
Suggested dopamine and acetylcholine boosting supplements use for a 4 weeks block progression:
-Start by adding 1gr of tyrosine every morning from week 1 with slightly more higher weights.
-Introduce alpha GPC one hour before every workout while using a slightly higher volume of work at week 2
-At week 3, keep the workouts shorter, cut some assistance work to focus all your energy into the realization of the progression. Keep the alpha GPC in and add another gram of tyrosine 1-hour pre-workout with some caffeine (100mg max). Type 1A respond pretty strongly to stimulants, so they don’t need much. In fact, stimulants can hurt them in the long term by depleting dopamine (because adrenaline is made from dopamine, stimulants often force the body to produce more adrenaline, depleting dopamine). A small dose will suffice and help in getting more intensity for a short period of time. If cortisol gets too high (you’ll know if you start to retain water in the post-workout period), add phosphatidyle serine pre-workout and L-theanine post-workout. This should help to regulate cortisol for the remaining of the week.
-Week 4 will be used as a deload week. Leave any tyrosine or acetylcholine boosting supplements out and add adrenal support like ashwaganda or rhodiola to recover from the previous weeks.
As their diet is very high in proteins, I strongly suggest the use of HCL and/or digestive enzymes to assist complete absorption of food. Type 1A should use HCL/enzymes three times a day at each main meal containing high amounts of animal protein. You can also choose a simple and natural way to increase HCL by drinking warm water in which you put 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar upon waking.
Some other supplements can be useful to support ACH production since Type 1A are naturally low in ACH and can greatly benefit from them. A nice combination of Choline (chemical precursor of ACH) plus vitamin B5 (cofactor of conversion) and huperzine A (attacks the anti-neurotransmitter acetylcholinesterase – the enemy of your enemy is my friend) will give the raw material for ACH production and helps in the digestive process. In fact, one of its main functions is to encourage the movement of the digestive organs. It also works with the stomach and pancreas to make digestive juices. Considering the high protein intake a Type 1A should have, supporting ACH production becomes very useful.
Diet Model Type
Type 1A will do well on almost every low carbs diet with a moderate amount of fat and a high amount of protein (think Palumbo diet, for example). Here’s a baseline model you can start with and tweak according to the goal. The example below proposes 2500 calories and is a much more beneficial diet considering the choice of foods that will be naturally higher in tyrosine, phenylalanine and choline.
4 whole eggs + 5oz of lean beef, duck, lamb or salmon
1-2 cup of mushrooms & broccoli
*Add HCL/digestive enzymes to this meal
**This meal can also contain a higher amount of meat (8-10oz) with added nuts (1/2 cups)
7oz chicken or turkey
1-2 cup brussel sprout
½ cup wild rice
*Add HCL/digestive enzymes to this meal
½ cup black beans or oats
1 cup cauliflowers
*Add HCL/digestive enzymes to this meal
*Add a small snack they can eat in case of sudden hunger
¼ cup nuts and an apple should do the tricks
Pre-workout meal (taken 45-90 minutes pre-workout)
7oz beef or beef liver (naturally high in tyrosine)
1oz almonds, walnuts or pecans
1 cup asparagus
*Add tyrosine and Acetylcholine boosting supplements in this meal
20gr EAA (type 1A should not consume BCAA, it alters the tyrosine uptake by the brain and their subsequent conversion to serotonin and catecholamines)
*Add electrolytes and glutamine here if you need to
2 scoops whey or beef proteins
50gr of powdered carbs from glucose polymer-based like dextrose, waxy maize, cluster dextrin, etc.
I would like to thank Matthieu Jeandel for sharing his knowledge into this article, our conversations are always a good exchange of information and inspiration.