What Is the Hormone Reset Diet?

Tomato, lemon, etc, as part of hormone reset diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the Hormone Reset Diet?

Gynecologist Sara Gottfried, MD, created the Hormone Reset Diet with the aim of resetting metabolic hormones to encourage weight loss. The 21-day program is essentially an elimination diet that requires excluding meat, alcohol, fruit, grains, and dairy in an effort to correct hormonal imbalances.

What Experts Say

"The Hormone Reset Diet promises that you'll lose 15 pounds in 21 days. This should be an immediate red flag that this is a fad diet, and any weight that is lost will likely be regained. Although the focus is on eating healthy foods, such as vegetables and protein, this diet plan is too low in calories for most people and will probably leave you feeling hungry. In addition, there is no clinical evidence to suggest that eliminating foods in a specific order can revamp your metabolism and help you lose weight."

Barbie Cervoni, MS, RD, CDCES, CDN

What You Can Eat

The main foods to eat on the Hormone Reset Diet include primarily whole foods with the exception of the food groups that are eliminated during each specific phase. The foods the diet includes (and excludes) and the phases of the diet are determined by the results of a quiz that claims to determine which hormonal imbalances you may have.

Vegetables

Aim to eat a pound or more of vegetables per day, sticking to less starchy, high fiber choices to stay under the required 99 grams of carbohydrates.

  • Asparagus
  • Leafy greens
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell peppers

Organic, Free-Range Eggs and Poultry

The Hormone Diet claims that non-organic, factory-produced eggs and poultry contain “toxins” that contribute to hormonal imbalance.

  • Poultry (organic and free-range chicken, turkey, duck)
  • Eggs (organic and free-range)

Wild-Caught Fish

Wild-caught fish is said to contain fewer “toxins” that interfere with hormone balance.

  • Salmon
  • Haddock
  • Halibut
  • Trout

Zero-Calorie Sweeteners

Plant-based sweeteners are thought to be more natural than artificial sweeteners. Sugar alcohols are low-calorie and sugar-free. They do not increase blood sugar and are approved for use on the Hormone Reset Diet.

  • Stevia
  • Erythritol
  • Xylitol

What You Cannot Eat

Certain foods are eliminated at specific times or for specific individuals, depending on their supposed effects on hormones as determined by a quiz.

Meat

Eliminating meat, according to the Hormone Reset Diet, resets your estrogen levels. According to the diet, being "estrogen dominant" will prevent you from losing weight. The diet refers to all red meat as "meat."

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Venison
  • Mutton
  • Boar

Alcohol

Alcohol is eliminated on the hormone reset diet because chronic consumption has been linked to an increase in estrogen levels.

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Liquor

Sugar

According to Gottfried, sugar is addictive and leads to insulin resistance, causing weight gain, so it is eliminated.

  • Foods with added sugars (candy, dessert, chocolate)
  • Fruit
  • Juices

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are considered toxic and addictive according to the Hormone Reset Diet. However, stevia (a naturally-derived sweetener) is acceptable, as well as xylitol and erythritol (two sugar alcohols).

  • Sucralose
  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin

Fruit

Consuming fruit allegedly interferes with the hormone leptin, which helps control appetite. Gottfried claims this leptin disruption is due to excess fructose, which is the sugar in fruit. The Hormone Reset Diet says that consuming fruit negatively affects your appetite and metabolism, causing hunger and weight gain. Fruit is not allowed, except for avocado and lemon.

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Berries
  • Melon
  • Citrus
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple

Caffeine

Caffeine is said to increase levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that interferes with weight loss and sleep quality. It is eliminated on the Hormone Reset Diet.

  • Coffee
  • Black tea
  • Soda
  • Energy drinks

Grains

The Hormone Reset Diet claims that grains affect the thyroid hormone and cause insulin resistance. Grains are eliminated to fix bloating, exhaustion, and thinning hair.

  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Pasta

Dairy

Dairy is thought to cause an imbalance and add unwanted growth hormone, so it is eliminated. The Hormone Reset Diet also claims that dairy is addictive.

  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Yogurt

How to Prepare the Hormone Reset Diet & Tips

The plan claims to lead to a staggering weight loss of up to 15 pounds in 21 days by improving the balance of seven different hormones to burn belly fat and decrease appetite.

The 21-day program is similar to an elimination diet as it excludes specific foods thought to cause hormonal imbalances. Dr. Gottfied claims that most women have at least one, if not three or more, significant hormonal imbalances. The diet plan claims to fix these imbalances by eliminating meat, alcohol, fruit, grains, and dairy.

It should be noted that there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims made by Gottfried regarding the Hormone Reset diet. Some of the recommendations for what to eat or avoid are based on a quiz taken in the book.

Pros of the Hormone Reset Diet

Despite its many drawbacks, there are few benefits of the Hormone Reset Diet.

  • Focuses on whole foods: The Hormone Reset Diet focuses on whole foods, plenty of vegetables, and lean proteins, which are all parts of a healthy diet. However, many other healthy whole foods are eliminated, and there is no room in the diet for processed foods or added sugars.
  • Reduces sugar: Although avoiding starchy grains and fruit is not necessary to reduce your sugar intake, the Hormone Reset Diet does require you to avoid added sugars. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, most adults consume too much added sugars.
  • Encourages healthy food choices: The foods allowed on the Hormone Reset Diet are all healthy choices. The focus on vegetables can help people consume the recommended amount of nutritious produce. As well, beans and legumes have been shown to aid in weight loss and have many other health benefits.

Cons of the Hormone Reset Diet

There are more disadvantages and risks than benefits to the Hormone Reset Diet, despite the creator's medical credentials.

  • Eliminates healthy food groups: The Hormone Reset Diet eliminates foods that are considered healthy by the majority of nutrition experts, such as fruit and whole grains. 
  • Expensive: Since the approved foods are mainly required to be organic and free-range, the cost of food could be too expensive for many people. As well, many of the recipes and foods suggested are specialty items that are much pricier than typical foods.
  • Difficult to follow: Besides eliminating food groups, The Hormone Reset Diet requires you to avoid toxins such as BPA and certain food additives. These additional restrictions, combined with the elimination of many foods, may make the diet too restrictive for many people. The diet does not recommend foods made through genetic modification (GMOs). This is a very controversial subject. While most organizations have deemed GMOs safe, some may argue that we simply don't know the long-term effects.
  • Overly restrictive: Diets that remove entire food groups are often too restrictive. Restrictive diets can lead to disordered eating patterns. Restrictive diets can also socially isolate you when you cannot eat the way your friends and family do.
  • May cause nutrient deficiencies: Dairy, grains, and fruit are all healthy foods that are eliminated on the Hormone Reset Diet. It may be challenging to reach your daily recommended amount of calcium, vitamin D, and fiber if you do not consume these food groups.
  • No scientific evidence: Strong clinical trials backing the claims made by Dr. Gottfried in the Hormone Reset Diet are lacking. There is no scientific evidence that an elimination diet that removes food from your eating plan in a certain order can "reset" hormones, although certain foods can influence hormone production. And some people may have hormonal imbalances due to their diet. If you have concerns over a hormonal balance, speak to your healthcare provider to get personalized advice.
  • Unrealistic and unsustainable weight loss: Expecting to lose up to 15 pounds in 21 days during the Hormone Reset Diet is unrealistic. A healthy rate of weight loss is between one and two pounds per week, or even less, depending on your current weight, body fat percentage, and health. Any weight lost on this diet is unlikely to be unsustainable long-term.

If you have an actual hormonal condition that requires treatment from a medical professional, this diet likely will not help you. As well, your condition could worsen if you aren’t receiving treatment. Speak to your doctor before trying the Hormone Reset Diet, especially if you have or suspect you may have hormonal health issues.

Is the Hormone Reset Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

Although the Hormone Reset Diet focuses on whole, nutritious foods, it also excludes many foods of high nutritional value. For example, the Hormone Reset Diet excludes grains. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recommends an average of 6 to 8 ounces of grains per day, depending on your caloric needs.

Similarly, the Dietary Guidelines recommend around 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of dairy per day, while the Hormone Reset Diet eliminates these foods. On the Hormone Reset Diet, you are restricted to 99 grams of carbohydrates or less per day; the USDA recommends at least 130 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Following the diet will restrict you to approximately 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day in order to lose weight. This calorie goal is well below the level recommended by the USDA, which depends on your sex, age, and activity level.

Where the Hormone Reset Diet shines is the recommendation to consume plenty of vegetables. Many people do not meet the recommended amounts of vegetables. The USDA recommends the approximate following intake of vegetables each week:

  • 1.5 to 2 cups of leafy greens
  • 5.5 to 6 cups of red and orange vegetables
  • 1.5 to 2 cups of beans, peas, and lentils
  • 5 to 6 cups of starchy vegetables
  • 4 to 5 cups of other vegetables

Some people that have dairy allergies or celiac disease (gluten allergy) need to eliminate dairy and many grains from their diet. It's important to note that careful meal planning can provide them with key nutrients such as calcium, iron, and B vitamins.

Choosing healthy, whole foods for the majority of your diet is a good idea for general health and weight loss. However, excluding food groups like dairy, fruit, and grains is unnecessary for weight loss and could be detrimental to your health and long-term weight loss success.

A Word From Verywell

The Hormone Reset Diet may result in weight loss, but the highly restrictive and unsustainable nature of the diet makes it unnecessarily difficult to follow. If you believe you might have a hormonal health issue, speak to your doctor about the best way to promote hormone balance.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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