Despite being a highly regarded doctor with a degree from Harvard and years of experience in her field, Dr Sara Gottfried could not work out why she was unable to lose weight or increase her energy levels.
She closely followed the standard medical advice for improving overall health and dropping unwanted pounds – calorie restriction and an uptick in exercise – but it was not making an ounce of difference. Finally, she decided to take a deep dive into the inner workings of her body and investigate what was going on. What she found improved her health, and her life, forever.
It lead to Dr Gottfried’s new book, Women, Food & Hormones, which aims to give women the guidance to retake control over their weight and hormonal health. Outlined in the book, The Gottfried Protocol is a ketogenic diet tailored by Gottfried to feed the needs of women’s bodies.
“I realised the missing piece was hormones, and that no amount of dietary restriction and exercise could get me where I wanted to be in terms of my weight and metabolic health unless my hormones were in balance,” she said.
“So that got me on this path of really understanding what the metabolic hormones that are important for women and what’s the most proven way to reset them.
“Your hormones tell your body when to store and burn fat but women’s hormone levels rise and fall frequently, while men’s tend to be consistent and steady.
“With most diets designed with the male body in mind and with little thought about how hormones fluctuations can impact weight loss, it is no surprise that some women struggle with traditional dieting techniques.
“We definitely know that hormones are very strongly influenced by the way that you eat.
“A lot of us were told that you have to reduce calories and exercise more to lose weight but it doesn’t work, because while calories matter, hormones matter more.
“To your hormones, food isn’t flavour, texture, and happy memories; to your hormones, food is information. The complex conversation between food and hormones is the main reason why the ketogenic diet works differently for women versus men. When it comes to things like pre-diabetes and diabetes, we know that the most effective way to deal with metabolic dysfunction, as evidenced by those two diagnoses, is with your food. It’s more effective than medications, and definitely has fewer side effects.”
The key, says Gotffried, is not just to restrict calories because, first of all, it fails 98% of the time, and second of all, it disrupts your hormones. It raises cortisol (the main stress hormone) which tends to block fat burning. It also causes problems with insulin, and leads to issues with something called reverse T3, which blocks the activity of thyroid hormone, and that leads to greater difficulty with weight loss.
Gottfried hopes her work will help women understand their bodies more fully: “I’m sensitive to diet culture, and to language around women feeling this is about being thinner. It’s actually about the foundation of your health today and tomorrow, and having the greatest healthspan you can have.”
Dr Gottfried’s new book, Women, Food & Hormones, aims to give women the guidance to retake control over their weight and hormonal health. Outlined in the book, The Gottfried Protocol is a ketogenic diet tailored by Gottfried to feed the needs of women’s bodies and hormones. “It puts the information in the hands of women so that they can take on and balance their hormones with their forks in a way that they haven’t before. Patients who follow this protocol sleep better. They have more energy. They have better mental focus and better cognitive function.”
Dr Gottfried explained that she hopes her work will help women understand their bodies more fully, and ultimately lead to better health and quality of life. She said: “I’m really sensitive to diet culture, and to this language around women feeling like this is about being thinner. It’s actually about the foundation of your health today and tomorrow, and having the greatest healthspan you can have. The lovely downstream benefit is that you also fit into your clothes but this is not about that. This is about metabolic health.”
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