It’s the start of a new year and everywhere you look – TV adverts, billboards, magazines, new books, social media – it’s a fat-busting frenzy. Diets, old and new, are trying to draw you in with promises of fast weight loss.
However, a myriad of research reveals that the majority of dieters (we’re talking over 90%) will inevitably put all of the pounds they lose back on and then some extra too.
That’s not to say that you should feel depressed or defeated by this news. The motivation to lose weight, feel good, and take charge of your health is a good one and deserves to be congratulated. You’re feeling fired up to tackle your goals afresh, and that’s great news. Go you!
I just don’t want to see you seduced by the kind of diets that don’t concern themselves with your longterm health and well-being. I want to be the voice of reason here, for a minute, and let you know that the fad diets you’ll be hearing about this month are not good for women’s hormonal needs and they simply don’t offer lasting weight loss.
The problem with dieting
Most diets involve either cutting out or cutting down dramatically on major food groups and restricting calories while simultaneously undertaking a rigorous exercise regime. The thing is that both of these strategies are highly problematic for your health, very difficult to sustain, and terrible for your hormones! Common diets like Paleo, Raw, even Macrobiotic can make hormonal health issues like PCOS, PMS, infertility, endometriosis, cramps and heavy bleeding become much, much worse.
I’ve lost 60 lbs myself not just once, but twice in my life – the first time in my early 20s and the second time after giving birth to my baby daughter. So, I’m not coming out as the voice of reason here without the practical skills and experience to back it up! Believe me ladies, I’ve been there!
What your body wants and needs desperately is homeostasis, not deprivation. Your body craves balance and hates extremes. This means any diet that involves cutting down and cutting out or wildly fluctuating eating patterns is only going to cause your body stress – the kind sourced in your blood sugar stability and your adrenals – that will actually make your body hold on to fat for dear life, and then start signaling health breakdown with all kinds of symptoms.
The diets that don’t work for women
Here’s a look at the kind of diets I know you’re hearing a whole lot about this month. None of these diets address female biology (most of them are even designed only with male biology in mind). All of them concentrate on a simple equation of calories in versus calories out, which, as research shows, is not sustainable for most people longterm (ie. the pounds will inevitably come piling back on).
Paleo Diet – a high animal fat diet is the worst possible choice of estrogen-dominance based hormonal health issues like endometriosis. Bacon is just not good for your ovaries. Sorry! Yes, we need fat and protein, but too much and the wrong kind is hard for the body to breakdown in all of the places where estrogen is peaking. Women do need to eat fat to lose fat, but animal fats are not the way to go to achieve this. A study from Harvard researchers showed that women were 39% more likely to experience cycles without ovulation (a cause of estrogen dominance, as the body is not producing enough balancing progesterone) if they ate a lot of animal protein. However, the women who had the highest intake of plant protein were much less likely to experience a lack of ovulation (and therefore estrogen dominance issues), than those women who hardly ate any plant proteins.
Ketogenic Diet – a high in protein, lower fat, no carbs diet again. While there is a lot of great research on the benefits of fasting on long term health, when you’re in the midst of a hormonal condition, this is a really tough road to go down. Having tried this out myself as an experiment I can say that although this might feel great at first, partly because you feel like you’re doing the perfect ‘proper’ diet plan, when your hormones shift mid cycle it is near-impossible to fight your impending carb cravings. You will fall off the wagon and carb-loading ensues. Any diet that is very low in omega 3 fats can also increase period cramps and heavy bleeding at the end of your cycle. While we certainly want to avoid carbs like sugar and wheat, we can choose to eat small amounts of soaked and properly prepared whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice, which are important to our hormonal balance if we struggle with blood sugar stability (most women do) or adrenal fatigue (also very common).
Vegan/Macrobiotic Diet – this diet is high in grains, higher in soy protein, with moderate fats. If you choose to be vegan for ethical reasons, I totally get that. However, you will want to do an excellent job of cooking your food and having enough soaked grains and legumes to get adequate absorbable protein, as well as supplementing for amino acids. This is a great diet for cleaning up house internally – decreasing inflammation all around. But the glycemic impact and lack of amino acids can be problematic for hormonal conditions. We need the amino acids from protein to make our hormones. Too many processed grains can create a lot of gut dysbiosis and can decrease absorption of all the key nutrients that are required for hormonal balance. And of course, if you’re insulin resistant, have PCOS, this diet can make your symptoms worse.
Master cleanse/Juice cleanse based Diets – a diet that requires an extreme calorie restriction is going to cause major issues for your blood sugar stability. If your blood sugar is peaking and troughing like crazy your body is not converting sugars properly (and remember many juice cleanses are fruit sugar-heavy). Juice that you buy or make at home with a regular juicer often separate out and remove the fiber of the fruit and vegetables (which is needed for your body to better process the fruit sugars) and as such what you’re drinking, if it’s a fruit heavy juice, is just pure sugar and looks no different to your body than a glass of Coca Cola. When fasting like this, your body has none of the nourishment it really needs – protein, good fats – to make hormones or breakdown hormones. You might lose weight, but then it will come back and that fluctuation will cause your body stress and create an inflammatory response. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good green juice, I do! I just sync how and when I juice to my body’s needs and I never only drink juice.
So, are you ready to ditch the diets?
I have been where you are. I’ve tried all the diets and nothing worked. Once I gave up the fads and started following my hormonal patterns and feeding them what they need, everything started working. I’ve lost a lot of weight twice, and in a very short period of time. I’ve done this by following my Flo Living protocol and I have helped many other women do the same. The Flo Living lifestyle is really the only eating plan that works for women long term – it takes the weight off and keeps it off, while not compromising your health, your mood, or your overall well-being.
ALL of these diets I’ve mentioned above cause out of control hormones and erratic blood sugar levels that come from their more extreme eating patterns – they rob your body and brain of the micronutrients that they need to create balanced appetite control-neurotransmitters and balanced metabolism-boosting hormone levels. Flo Living supports appetite control and boosts your metabolism, because it increases essential micronutrients and balances your hormones.
But more than all of this, these diets don’t feel pleasurable. They don’t put you into a positive relationship with your body where you are eating, listening, and responding to how your body reacts to what you’re putting in. These diets are not based on your unique female biochemistry, they’re based on experiments that don’t take into account the effects on mood, energy, and appetite throughout the menstrual cycle. Ultimately, these diets are hard to stick with and they end up making you feel bad about your willpower and about your body.
Enough is enough! The solution you’re looking for is eating the foods your body needs for each phase of your menstrual/hormone cycle. This way you can optimize the levels of nutrients your body wants to balance the vital hormones that keep your metabolism working efficiently. You will, in fact, be revving your metabolism to keep you slim. When you eat in sync with your hormones, you will feel satisfied, less tempted by foods you should avoid, and happy to continue this “diet” (or lifestyle shift) for years to come. You want to lose weight, feel great and take charge of your health, right? Flo Living is the only diet created for women, created for you.
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
to your FLO,
Good things come in threes:
I want to hear from you!
First, have you tried any of the mentioned diets?
Second, are you hoping to lose weight this year?
Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social 😉
Need more Hormone Help?
If you’re needing some health upgrading, it’s time you started you looking into what’s going on with your hormones.
I’ve designed a 4 day hormone detox and evaluation to help you understand exactly what’s out of whack and how you can start getting back to balance so that your hormones no longer have to suffer.
Click here to get your FREE detox and evaluation!
Hi! This makes sense to me. But if you have high levels of testosterone (not estrogen) is paleo/whole 30 still a bad idea? Thank you so much!
I would definitely want to look a little deeper and make sure that you are eating in a way that is appropriate for you body. This is when the body can heal – when it is getting what it needs. There are issues with adopting any diet without listening to how are bodies respond to it. When you find that diet that works for you, then you won’t feel like you are on a diet and your body can heal.
I am a 52 year old woman who is in menopause, what diet works for someone like me???
I great resource in Christiane Northrup!
Now that my last babe is now 19mo, I am ready to focus a bit more on myself. I am continuing to breastfeed until he weans himself. I also am on Zoloft to help with PPD (rage) after having him. Although I lost the baby weight immediately this time, I gained 20lbs with the meds. This, added to the 15 I couldn’t lose from my oldest, puts me way over my ideal weight. I am very interested in hearing you address how I can get my FLO as a breastfeeding, overweight (overmedicated?!) mama. Thanks!
Thanks for this article! I have been on every diet known to man and started experimenting with ketogenic dieting when I was 12. A few years ago, I became a weight loss coach (at age 25) at an M.D.’s office for a ketogenic diet called “Ideal Protein”. They claim to have all the necessary nutrients and supplements and you are monitored by a doctor, however it set me up for the most horrible eating disorder of my life as well as major hormonal issues that have not been diagnosed yet! I am so interested in finding out more about what these ketogenic diets do to our bodies, minds and hormones, but haven’t found much on the Internet. Thank you so much for putting this out there. I too have gained about 90 lbs five times in my life and now that I am at the heavier end, I do want to lose the weight, but never again with a crazy diet filled with punishment and self hate!
Thank you for the article. I wanted to let you know that it has incorrect information that you may want to adjust. A ketogenic diet is actually high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate, versus what you listed (with 65-75% of caloric intake in the form of fats). Also, it does not have to be animal fat and many people who follow a ketogenic diet are getting their fats from sources like avocados, coconut, nuts/seeds and olives and getting carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds and even some grains. I’m excited to be starting your protocol this week!
Atourina Charles says
I was going to mention this as well. Keto method is actually very high in Omega 3 and fat. I have heard amazing results for hormonal balancing while being on a ketogenic lifestyle. It’s really not a diet.
I love what you are providing for women’s health! I’m sure someone else on your team caught this by now, but I just wanted to make sure you knew the Ketogenic diet is a very high fat diet with relatively low protein and low carb (actually the protein/carb amount should depend on a ratio to fat).
Hi Alisa. Is your four day detox plan part of the monthly flo plan or the sexy flo plan? Which program has more of a focus on diet? I am confused!!!
-My main focus is weight loss! I want to know what foods and supplements are best for me and my hormones.
-My energy can be low and sometimes I am forgetful.
-I’m not having big ssexual issues. Some occasional low libido as I’m 49.
-However I still have not missed a period and I don’t have menstrual issues either.
– I listened to your weight loss webinar last week and thought it was very informative!!
-I know I would like to try one of your programs and most likely with several one on one consults.
BUT I WANT TO CHOISE THE RIGHT PROGRAM. HELP PLEASE
Yes! Please schedule an appointment with one of my counselors! Click here: http://bit.ly/12Xruvm
I stopped the pill and adopted a ketogenic/low carb healthy fat lifestyle and it has completely transformed my life and my period. I never have cravings and fall off the wagon as you mention. The keto diet involves eating beautiful home-cooked food all the time that is rich and tasty, providing a lot of energy. It can vary in the carb content and is not always very low carb like mentioned (20g is low but can be up to 80g depending on person and activity level). It doesn’t involve any grains/gluten, is moderate protein (which doesn’t always have to come from animals) and loads of veggies with lots of good fats added. I understand that you have your own protocol, which I respect, some people perform better on (and need) a higher carb diet, especially with thyroid/adrenal dysfunction but I think it’s important to make sure the facts on diets are correct. I also don’t like the terminology of fad diets when it is a diet that is as whole and natural as you get, it just doesn’t have any grains/gluten. Thanks for listening. I love your message so keep putting it out there.
Hi! I follow the ketogenic diet, and highly recommend it, however it only actually started to work for me when I stopped thinking of it as a diet and also stopped being obsessive about hitting macros/calories etc. every day. Instead I use the keto diet as a guideline because through experimentation, I know that eating too many carbs does not suit me. I am flexible though, and never deny myself anything that my body truly wants. I mostly try to eat intuitively, and I never weigh myself, my food or count macros and calories any more. It’s good to be free of the usual ‘diet’ nonsense, and instead just feed and nourish myself in a way that makes me feel good. 🙂
Paleo isn’t a low carb diet, and it doesn’t cut out vegetables either. I eat way more vegetables on my paleo diet than I did as a vegetarian. Just because a diet didn’t work for you doesn’t mean it gives every woman hormonal problems. I suffered from estrogen dominance and 10 day long periods. Have been eating paleo for almost a decade and very happy with it.