What Is the Blood Type Diet?

Blood type diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the Blood Type Diet?

The blood type diet is based on the theory that your blood type determines the foods you should consume (and the exercise you should do) to achieve optimal health. The diet plan was originally developed by Peter D'Adamo, a naturopathic physician.

The idea behind the diet is that eating foods with lectins (a type of protein) incompatible with a person's blood type can cause blood cell clumping, called agglutination, and result in health problems such as heart or kidney disease or cancer. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support these claims.

What Experts Say

"Basing a diet on your blood type is not evidence-based and restricts many healthy foods. Nutrition experts do not support or recommend this diet for achieving nutrition or health goals."

Kelly Plowe, MS, RD

What You Can Eat

The blood type diet emphasizes certain foods and exercise plans for different blood types. Regardless of blood type, the diet emphasizes eating whole foods and minimizing the intake of processed foods

Type A

According to D'Adamo, people with type A blood are predisposed to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and do better on an organic, vegetarian diet with calming, centering exercise, such as yoga and tai chi.

People with blood type A, who D'Adamo calls "cultivators," should follow a dairy-free, primarily vegetarian diet with a high intake of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Type B

People with type B blood, according to D’Adamo, have a robust immune system and a tolerant digestive system, and are more adaptable than other blood types. However, people with type B are more susceptible to autoimmune disorders, such as chronic fatigue, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.

D'Adamo recommends moderate physical exercise and balance exercises, along with a "well-rounded" diet, for people with blood type B, or "nomads." People in this group should eat a highly varied diet including fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, but avoid nuts and seeds.

Type AB

People with type AB blood are more biologically complex than other types, according to D’Adamo. Based on this belief, these people supposedly do best with a combination of the exercises and diets for types A and B, though meat should be limited.

It is believed that this blood type tends to have lower rates of allergies, but heart disease, cancer, and anemia are common. 

People with blood type AB, who D'Adamo calls "enigmas," can consume any food recommended for blood types A and B, although aiming for a mainly vegan diet is advised for this type.

Type O

Based on the blood type diet theory, people with type O blood do best with intense physical exercise and animal proteins, while dairy products and grains may cause problems.

According to D’Adamo, gluten, lentils, kidney beans, corn, and cabbage can lead to weight gain in people with this blood type. Health conditions associated with type O include asthma, hay fever, and other allergies, and arthritis.

People with blood type O, who D'Adamo calls "hunters," should stick to a dairy-free and grain-free diet high in meat and with a moderate amount of vegetables, eggs, nuts, and seeds.

In addition to specific foods, D'Adamo recommends and sells different supplements for each blood type. There is a specially formulated multivitamin, multimineral, lectin blocker, and probiotic/prebiotic blend for each blood type.

What You Cannot Eat

No foods are completely forbidden on the blood type diet. However, not all foods are considered beneficial for different blood types, and processed foods are discouraged for everyone.

How to Prepare the Blood Type Diet & Tips

There is no specific timing for meals or fasting periods required on the blood type diet. However, the plan advises against drinking water or other beverages with meals because it will dilute the natural digestive enzymes and make it more difficult to digest foods.

Pros of the Blood Type Diet

Like all fad diets, the blood type diet has positives and negatives.

  • Encourages exercise: The blood type diet encourages exercise. Research shows that regular exercise combined with a healthy diet can lead to weight loss and promote weight management. However, there is no research to support the blood type diet as an effective weight-loss strategy.
  • Emphasizes whole foods: Each blood type plan emphasizes choosing whole foods over processed foods, which is a healthy choice. The program also offers a wide variety of compliant foods for some of the blood types, which may make it easier to stick with.
  • Can be a well-rounded choice: Although each blood type comes with its own set of dietary restrictions, the program is not a low-calorie diet with unhealthy restrictions on calorie intake. Plans for types B and AB are more well-rounded and can provide most if not all of the necessary nutrients for a well-balanced diet. However, the plans for types A and O restrict certain healthy food groups, which is not a smart long-term eating plan for many people.

Proponents of the blood type diet claim that the program can help you burn fat more efficiently, increase your energy levels, support your immune system, and lower your risk of major health problems like heart disease and cancer. However, there is currently a lack of scientific evidence to support these claims.

Cons of the Blood Type Diet

Despite some potential benefits, the blood type diet is not recommended by health experts and has several drawbacks.

  • Not effective: There is no research to support that the blood-type diet is an effective weight-loss strategy.
  • Not based on science: Eating for your specific blood type is not rooted in science. The available research on the blood type diet includes a study published in the journal PLoS One in 2014. Anyone following some of the diets, no matter their blood type, may either see benefits or no changes, according to the study.
  • Requires unsubstantiated supplements: Although proponents of the blood type diet suggest that the use of dietary supplements can help people following the diet plan meet their nutritional needs, such supplements are not regarded as a reasonable substitute for a healthy, balanced meal plan.
  • Can be restrictive: Since the diets prescribed for blood types A and O are restrictive, there's some concern that individuals following these diets may fail to achieve sufficient intake of many vitamins and minerals that are essential for health.
  • Not backed by evidence: A research review published in 2013 no evidence to support any of the health claims associated with the blood type diet. In this review, scientists looked at 16 previously published reports on the blood type diet. Another 2020 review also found that there are no cardiometabolic benefits to be gained from the blood type diet.

Since any health changes occurred independently of the participants' blood types, the study's authors concluded that their findings do not back up the overall theory behind the blood type diet.

Is the Blood Type Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The blood type diet is based on theory; it isn't rooted in scientific fact and its effectiveness has not been proven in clinical settings. The overall plan does emphasize whole, natural, and unprocessed foods, however, which makes it healthier than some pre-packaged meal plans or meal-replacement plans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide recommendations for a balanced diet. The following nutrient-dense foods are considered part of a healthy diet:

  • Vegetables of all types and dark, leafy greens (e.g., kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, green beans
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits (e.g., apples, berries, melon)
  • Grains, especially whole grains (e.g., quinoa, brown rice, oats)
  • Lean animal protein (e.g., chicken breast, fish, turkey breast, eggs)
  • Beans and legumes (e.g., beans, lentils, peas)
  • Nuts and seeds (e.g., walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds)
  • Dairy products (e.g., reduced-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, as well as fortified soy-based dairy-free alternatives)
  • Oils, including oils found in foods (e.g., olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seafood) 

Depending on your blood type, this plan may or may not meet the USDA's definition of a healthy meal plan.

  • The Type AB diet is the least restrictive and allows for the widest variety of foods to ensure adequate nutrition.
  • The Type A diet prohibits meat and dairy, which have nutrients, namely protein, that can be found in other foods with careful planning.
  • The Type B diet also offers a varied diet, with the exception of nuts and seeds, and meets most of the requirements of the USDA healthy eating plan.
  • The Type O diet avoids dairy and grains, which are considered important parts of a healthy diet, according to the USDA. With careful planning, however, the nutrients found in grains and dairy can be made up by eating a variety of vegetables.

The blood-type diet does not suggest tracking or limiting calories. The USDA recommends a reduction of 500 calories per day for weight loss. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that's around 1,500 calories per day—but this number varies based on age, sex, weight, and activity level. Use this calculator to determine the right number of calories for you.

The prescribed plans for each blood type in the blood type diet eliminate some foods that are considered crucial to good health. Depending on your blood type, the diet may or may not adhere to federal dietary guidelines and is therefore not a recommended eating plan for overall health or weight management.

A Word From Verywell

While the blood type diet may offer some benefits in certain cases, following a health regimen that combines sensible calorie restriction and regular exercise is generally considered the most effective strategy for weight loss. If you're considering this diet plan, whether for weight loss or overall health, be sure to talk with a doctor or registered dietitian first.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Fock KM, Khoo J. Diet and exercise in management of obesity and overweightJ Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;28 Suppl 4:59-63. doi:10.1111/jgh.12407

  3. Koliaki C, Spinos T, Spinou Μ, Brinia Μ-E, Mitsopoulou D, Katsilambros N. Defining the optimal dietary approach for safe, effective and sustainable weight loss in overweight and obese adultsHealthcare (Basel). 2018;6(3). doi:10.3390/healthcare6030073

  4. Wang J, García-Bailo B, Nielsen DE, El-Sohemy A. ABO genotype, 'blood-type' diet and cardiometabolic risk factors. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(1):e84749. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084749

  5. Barnard ND, Rembert E, Freeman A, Bradshaw M, Holubkov R, Kahleova H. Blood type is not associated with changes in cardiometabolic outcomes in response to a plant-based dietary intervention. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2021;121(6):1080-1086. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2020.08.079

  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition.

  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture. I want to lose a pound of weight. How many calories do I need to burn?.

By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.