What is the Hormone Diet?
The Hormone Diet aims to balance hormones, improve overall health, teach eating habits, and promote in weight loss. Naturopathic doctor and author Natasha Turner bases the Hormone Diet on the premise that hormones affect every aspect of weight gain and loss. Turner, author of the bestselling book The Hormone Diet, believes that hormones control food cravings as well as fat storage and burning. She says that hormonal imbalances can cause fatigue, memory loss, and ill health in addition to weight gain, and that up to 90 percent of all adults have hormone imbalances.
Dieters lose up to twelve pounds the first two weeks of the Hormone Diet. They then lose about two pounds a week during the six-week program.
You can participate in the Hormone Diet in a number of ways. You can use The Hormone Diet or the companion book The Super-Charged Hormone Diet to guide your diet or you can become a patient at Dr. Turner’s wellness boutique in Toronto. (As the name suggests, The Super-Charged Hormone Diet is a speeded-up version of the Hormone Diet that takes only four weeks.) Another option is the Hormone Diet Bootcamp, which can bring the Hormone Diet to your workplace (or you can participate in the bootcamp at the Toronto clinic.)
The cost of the diet depends on how you choose to become involved. Some insurance may reimburse for certain of the naturopathic classes. You can buy detox and maintenance kits that cost about $200 each and include the supplements you need for steps 1 and 2 of the Hormone Diet.
How to Follow the Hormone Diet
The six-week Hormone Diet takes a three-step approach.
1. Renew and Revitalize. The first step starts with a two-week detoxification. During the detoxification you learn how different foods affect you and which you may be allergic to. You do not eat the foods that commonly cause allergies, inflammations, or migraines—foods like corn, refined sugars and grains, citrus fruits, and foods with additives.
2. Replenish Your Body and Balance Your Hormones. Step two focuses on which foods to eat and when to eat them. Foods to avoid include so-called ‘hormone-hindering’ foods such as farmed salmon, fish high in mercury, raisins, dates, and non-organic coffee and meat. Throughout the diet you avoid refined sugars and grains, foods with trans fats, corn, citrus fruit, processed meats, foods with nitrites and other additives, alcohol, and most artificial sweeteners.
Your diet consists of gluten-free grains, most vegetables (not corn), fruits (except citrus and canned and dried fruits), nuts, seeds, fish, organic meat, goat cheese, olives, flaxseed and canola oil, eggs, nondairy milk substitutes, soy products, and avocados. You take supplements, omega-3 fish oil, and cleansing formulas. Your supplements may change as you progress in the Hormone Diet.
Your might have a fruit smoothie for lunch and chicken, fish, or turkey and vegetables for lunch and dinner. Good snacks are goat milk cheese and almond protein bars. Lentil soup, three-bean salad, and chicken stir-fry fit with the Hormone Diet. The Hormone Diet includes simple recipes for such tasty dishes as Texas Chili, Vegetarian Chili, and Jamaican Chicken Curry.
You supplement your diet in the second step with multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium-magnesium, whey protein, and antioxidants. You need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
3. Restore Strength, Vigor and Balance. In step three you add exercise– yoga, hiking, biking, and aerobic and strength training—six days a week. The special Hormone Diet workout is a 30-minute workout that uses free weights.
A self-assessment helps you figure out which of your hormones are out of balance and how you can correct them. Correcting hormone imbalances may involve changes to your diet, behavior changes, exercise, better sleep, or stress reduction.
Benefits of the Hormone Diet
Unlike many fast weight loss diets, the Hormone Diet looks at lifestyle issues such as sleep, exercise, eating habits, and stress. It makes the connection between hormonal health, weight loss, and overall health. It addresses inflammation as a cause of weight gain and health problems.
The nutrition and exercise programs are lifelong programs.
The Mediterranean-style low-carbohydrate, low-glycemic diet is basically a healthy one.
Dr. Turner is a medical doctor and the Hormone Diet has the endorsement of other medical doctors.
The Hormone Diet is for men and women and is consistent with a vegetarian lifestyle.
Concerns about the Hormone Diet
Registered dietitians are concerned about the amount of supplements the Hormone Diet requires. They say that supplements can interact with prescription medication and can be dangerous in the quantities used in this diet.
Traditional medical doctors believe that detoxification is not necessary because the liver and kidneys do that job, and can be dangerous. They say that detox diets can have serious side effects, including dehydration, anemia, low blood sugar, nausea, and fatigue. Detoxification may be particularly dangerous for people who have heart disease or diabetes.
The diet may be too low in carbohydrates for people who exercise regularly. In addition, it may cause the loss of muscle mass and negatively affect your metabolism—both of which make it harder for your body to burn calories.
Many authorities dispute the role of hormones in weight loss as presented in the Hormone Diet. They say that weight loss is more complicated than that and involves other factors in addition to hormones.
Check with Your Doctor
Because the Hormone Diet involves a period of detoxification and requires you to use so many supplements, it’s important to check with your doctor before you start it. Your healthcare provider can evaluate whether the diet is a good one for you, particularly in light of how the supplements may affect any health conditions you have or medications you take.
Keep in mind that you can consult with your physician if you have any questions or concerns while you are on the diet.