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 negatively affect a person's weight, as well as other factors that can contribute to weight gain and other adverse health effects.
It’s 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 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 diet promotes natural, nutritious foods and regular exercise.
- A diet plan that recommends 12 pounds of weight loss in two weeks is either unrealistic, or unhealthy and unsustainable.
“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 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, and about two pounds a week after that.
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, managing stress, and getting enough 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 reliance on numerous nutritional supplements during the first phase. Using certain nutritional supplements and herbal preparations can be detrimental to your health, as they can interfere with medications or trigger unknown allergies. A diet plan that recommends 12 pounds of weight loss in two weeks is either unrealistic, or unhealthy and unsustainable.
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, and 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.
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 be dangerous, especially if you rely largely on nutritional supplements. On top of that, evidence linking hormone synchronization and weight loss doesn't exist, despite the fact that the book is written by a doctor.
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, blood draws, and saliva tests. It costs both 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.
You asked, we answered
- What should I do if I think I have a hormone imbalance?
Home saliva test kits, from a reputable company like ZRT Labs, are an accurate and ideal way to check hormone levels, as blood serum levels are not always dependable. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns. If you are a woman, your gynecologist or obstetrician may be a good person to help. Having your blood hormones checked is often a good idea. Bio-identical hormone supplementation is a natural way to help ease symptoms of menopause-induced imbalanced hormones.- Natalie Butler, RD, LD