What is it?
The hormone diet stems from the book of the same title by Dr. Natasha Turner. Its primary focus is on hormone fluctuations that supposedly can negatively affect a person's weight, as well as other factors that can contribute to weight gain and other adverse health effects.
It is a six-week, three-step process designed to sync hormones and promote an overall healthier self 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 long "detoxification" process where you avoid eating fish, meat, olives, avocados, eggs, soy products, feta and goat cheeses, gluten-containing foods, and most fruits and vegetables. This phase also involves taking many nutritional supplements, including herbal cleansers, bowel cleansers, probiotics, 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 like 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 man-made foods which include:
- processed foods
- artificial sweeteners
- refined grains
- foods that contain nitrates (cured meats, peanut butter, 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.
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, and to explain the lifestyle habits—sleeping, eating, managing stress, and exercising—that can help boost hormones to help burn fat. Including water weight, the diet aims to allow you to lose up to 12 pounds in the first phase and about two pounds a week after that.
Pros & Cons
The diet takes a solid stance not only for weight loss, but for overall health: natural, nutritious foods and regular exercise. Also, the focus on emotional health, managing stress, and getting enough sleep are all important components that more people should be doing, regardless if they are on a diet or not.
One major downside to the diet is its reliance on numerous nutritional supplements during the first phase. Using certain nutritional supplements and herbal preparations can be detrimental to your health as they could interfere with medications or bring out unknown allergies. A diet plan that recommends 12 pounds of weight loss in two weeks is either unrealistic, or unhealthy and not sustainable.
This is yet another diet that tells people to avoid things that can have serious long-term health effects—processed foods, sugars, and more. The Hormone Diet's focus on natural, healthy foods and both cardiovascular and strength training exercises are valuable and great additions to any lifestyle. Even by themselves, eating healthy—low-fat, highly nutritious foods—and getting regular exercise will help you lose weight not only in the immediate time but for the long haul.
However, the body's hormones are tricky. They help regulate almost all of the body's functions, and attempting to control them only to lose weight—especially with a large reliance on nutritional supplements—can be dangerous. On top of that, despite the fact that the book is written by a doctor, the evidence linking hormone synchronization and weight loss doesn't exist.
Before taking any nutritional supplements or following an extreme "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 and invasive blood draws, costing money and time. That makes long-term success even more difficult.
Overall, the diet may not work for many people. 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.