What is it?
The hormone diet stems from the book of the same title by Dr. Natasha Turner, a naturopathic doctor. Its primary focus is on hormone fluctuations that supposedly negatively affect a person’s weight. It also focuses on other factors that can contribute to weight gain and other adverse health effects.
The hormone diet is a six-week, three-step process designed to sync hormones and promote an overall healthier body through diet, exercise, nutritional supplements, and detoxification. The diet regulates what you eat and also tells you the right time to eat to ensure maximum benefit to your hormones.
This part of the diet involves a two-week “detoxification” process. You avoid eating gluten-containing grains, dairy products made from cow’s milk, many oils, alcohol, caffeine, peanuts, sugar, artificial sweeteners, red meat, and citrus fruits. Acceptable foods during this phase include naturally gluten-free grains and starches, most vegetables, most fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, poultry, fish, soy, eggs, plant milks, dairy from sheep or goat, and certain oils. This phase also involves taking nutritional supplements. These include probiotics and anti-inflammatory products like turmeric and fish oil.
This phase incorporates some of those foods back into your diet while paying attention to how your body responds to them. However, the diet recommends an ongoing avoidance of “hormone-hindering” foods. These include high fructose corn syrup, fish with high mercury levels, non-organic meats, non-organic coffee, raisins, dates, and peanuts. The full list is in the book “The Hormone Diet.”
The second phase also involves ridding your diet of manmade foods, which include:
- processed foods
- artificial sweeteners
- refined grains
- foods that contain nitrates, such as cured meats, peanut butter, and chocolate
The third phase focuses on entire physical and mental wellness through cardiovascular exercise and strength training. The diet plan of the second phase continues on into the third phase.
“The Hormone Diet” boasts of being the first diet book to emphasize the importance of hormonal balance among all of the 16 hormones that influence weight. It also claims to be the first to explain the lifestyle habits that can help boost hormones to burn fat. These include:
- managing stress
Including water weight, the diet aims for weight loss of up to 12 pounds in the first phase. It aims for about two pounds a week after that, without calorie counting.
Pros and cons
The diet takes a solid stance on weight loss and overall health, promoting natural, nutritious foods and regular exercise. Also, the focus on emotional health, stress management, and adequate sleep are all important components that people should be doing, whether they are on a diet or not.
One major downside to the diet is its emphasis on an expected amount of weight loss. A diet plan that recommends 12 pounds of weight loss in two weeks is either unrealistic or unsustainable. It may also lead to weight regain, like many other diets.
This is yet another diet that tells people to avoid things that can have serious long-term health effects, such as processed foods and sugars. The hormone diet’s focus on natural, healthy foods as well as both cardiovascular and strength training exercises makes a great addition to any lifestyle. Even without following the hormone diet specifically, eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise will help you lose weight not only in the immediate future, but for the long haul as well. Though phase 1 has many food rules, it doesn’t necessarily classify as an extreme detox program. It can be viewed more as a clean-eating plan since many whole, fresh, nutrient-dense foods are encouraged.
However, the body’s hormones are complex. They help regulate almost all of the body’s functions. Attempting to control them only to lose weight can affect the balance of other organs and systems. On top of that, evidence linking hormone synchronization and weight loss is minimal, despite the fact that the book is written by a naturopathic doctor.
Before taking any nutritional supplements or following a “detox” diet, you should consult your doctor first.
Some people might not be able to keep up with a schedule of eating in intervals and constantly paying attention to their hormones. Having hormones tested is a complicated process that requires visits to the doctor, blood draws, and saliva tests. It costs both money and time. That makes long-term success even more difficult.
While a good portion of the book is dedicated to explaining the science of how the hormone diet works, there is no outside research to back up the diet’s claims. Overall, the diet may not work for many people long-term, which jeopardizes the ability to maintain any progress.