Hormonal changes around the time of menopause, combined with aging and lifestyle factors, can lead to frustrating weight gain for many women. Dr. Mary Claire Haver, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist, found this true for herself and her many patients who could no longer get the scale to budge with the common advice to “eat less and move more.” (Here are 10 eating changes to make once you turn 50.) As a result, Haver developed the Galveston Diet to help middle-aged women burn fat and combat menopausal weight gain. Keep reading to learn what foods you can and cannot eat, if it’s good for you, and the pros and cons of this diet plan.
What is the Galveston Diet?
The Galveston Diet is a self-paced weight loss program designed to reverse menopausal weight gain through a combination of anti-inflammatory foods and intermittent fasting. Focusing on anti-inflammatory foods, instead of just restricting calories, helps hormones work in our favor for fat loss, says Haver. The diet emphasizes whole foods and limits processed foods, added sugars and artificial ingredients. There are three different levels of the self-paced course to choose from, ranging from $59 to $199. The fee gives you access to the curriculum, meal plans, recipes and helpful tools. There are trainings on hormones, fasting and inflammation, as well as seven weeks of meal plans and shopping guides.
What Can You Eat?
The Galveston Diet prioritizes anti-inflammatory whole foods, including lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, healthy fats, and full-fat dairy. (The Salmon with Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa Salad, pictured above, would be a good dinner choice.) Processed foods with added sugar, artificial ingredients, colors, flavors, and high fructose corn syrup are discouraged, along with processed meats containing nitrates/nitrites, fried foods, inflammatory oils like canola or vegetable oil and refined flours and grains, as these have been shown to cause inflammation in the body.
However, when you eat is just as important as what you eat on this diet. Intermittent fasting is a non-negotiable on the Galveston Diet. Haver says that intermittent fasting leads to weight loss because of a calorie restriction, but she also explains that any calorie restriction will lead to weight loss. Research backs this, as studies show that intermittent fasting does not lead to more weight loss than simply a calorie restriction overall.
However, Haver emphasizes the neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory effects of intermittent fasting as reasons for including it on the Galveston Diet. The 16:8 method is recommended—fasting for 16 hours and eating in an 8-hour window. While the 5:2 method (eating 500 calories for two days per week and maintenance calorie needs for the other days) may lead to similar results, she argues the 16:8 is easier for most people to incorporate into their lives.
Is the Galveston Diet Good for You?
There’s no current research specifically on the Galveston Diet, but its emphasis on nutritious whole foods and minimization of processed foods and sweets is the foundation of any healthy diet. Research suggests a link between inflammation and obesity, so increasing intake of nutritious, anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 rich fatty fish, nuts and seeds and decreasing consumption of inflammatory processed foods and sugar is beneficial for overall health and weight.
In addition, intermittent fasting can be an effective weight loss tool, but more robust, long-term research is needed to understand its safety and efficacy. Plus, intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone, including individuals with diabetes, those taking certain medications, or people with a history of eating disorders. And, as mentioned, when it comes to weight loss, there isn’t research to support that intermittent fasting leads to any more weight loss than a calorie deficit overall.
For one, you don’t have to count calories or macros, which makes this diet more sustainable than most. There are macro recommendations inside the program, but instead of focusing on eating less, the Galveston Diet focuses on adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet, like colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, lean protein, fatty fish, whole grains, nuts and seeds. It also encourages healthy habits like meal planning and prepping and teaches you how to balance your hormones for fat loss.
There is no research to date on the Galveston Diet or how many people succeed at losing weight and keeping it off on this diet. However, there is research to support eating anti-inflammatory foods. Another downside, as previously mentioned, is that intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone. Restricting eating to an eight hour window may backfire for some. Finally, you have to purchase the program in order to have full access to the diet, which may be a limitation for some.
The Bottom Line
There isn’t a magical way to eat for your hormones but some foods may help your hormones balanced and your body functioning properly. If you’re looking to reverse menopausal weight gain, the Galveston Diet may help you shed some pounds by combining a whole foods diet with intermittent fasting. That being said, research specifically on the Galveston Diet is lacking and it won’t be a magic bullet for weight loss.
Before giving this diet a try, you may also want to read upon what intermitting fasting is and what are the benefits and drawbacks for women. If you don’t want to purchase the Galveston diet, you can likely get similar benefits from following a diet that emphasizes on anti-inflammatory foods, lean proteins and fiber-rich plant foods over processed foods and sweets.
Whether you decide to pursue this diet or other types of weight loss regimen, you may want to speak with a registered dietitian who can help you identify appropriate weight management strategies and work with you to reach your health goals.
Read more How to Start the Atkins® Diet
— Update: 11-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article What Is The Galveston Diet And How Does It Work? from the website www.womenshealthmag.com for the keyword pros and cons of galveston diet.
Diets that fight inflammation are here to stay. Anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean diet and DASH Diet have been around for a while and are legit options for those looking to improve their health with the added benefit of weight loss. In recent years, a new anti-inflammatory diet that was created specifically for women has become very popular—the Galveston Diet.
The Galveston Diet was designed for women in all phases of menopause, including perimenopause, who want to avoid weight gain and may be struggling to lose weight during these stages of life. It can also help with common hormonal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and brain fog. Their website boasts a community of 100,000 members.
So, where did this diet come from? It was developed by Mary Claire Haver, MD, a Texas-based ob-gyn, in 2017. Dr. Haver used to tell “her patients to eat less and exercise more. It wasn’t until she, too, experienced the changes of menopause and mid-life weight gain that she realized this advice doesn’t work,” and that led her to create the Galveston Diet, according to the diet’s website.
The Galveston Diet consists of three main components: intermittent fasting, an anti-inflammatory approach to nutrition, and shifting your nutritional intake to fuel your body, according to the diet’s website. Dr. Haver “carefully distilled the complex concepts from [her] research to easily digestible nuggets and tested them with resounding success.” One of her goals is to help followers leave behind quick fixes and build sustainable habits that will last a lifetime.
Learn more about what the Galveston Diet entails, what you can and can’t eat while on it, and this is the right weight-loss plan for you.
Meet the experts: Roxana Ehsani, RD, CSSD, LDN, is an adjunct professor that teaches sports nutrition at Virginia Tech.
Anya Rosen, RD, is a nutritionist and the founder of Birchwell.
What is the Galveston Diet?
“The diet is said to be an anti-inflammatory diet similar to the Mediterranean diet but also includes 16:8 intermittent fasting,” says nutritionist Roxana Ehsani, RD, CSSD, LDN. (FYI: That’s when you eat during an eight-hour window, then abstain from food for the remaining 16 hours of the day.) “The diet limits processed foods that contain added sugar, artificial ingredients, colors and flavorings, white flour, foods with high-fructose corn syrup, alcohol, fried foods, and vegetable oils.”
The diet is trending because more and more middle-aged women are struggling with weight loss, and they are starting to recognize that this is largely due to hormonal changes, says Anya Rosen, RD, the founder of Birchwell, a virtual integrative health clinic.
The Galveston Diet is a self-paced program, which you have to pay for, and comes with a set of recipes, exercises, and motivational reflections. You can pay a one-time fee of $59 for just the program or $99 to also get the additional digital tools (including an online guide, journal, and recipe collection), or you can sign up for a subscription for $49 per month to get everything plus weekly live group coaching sessions, per the website.
Dr. Haver is also set to release her book about the Galveston Diet with the same name in January 2023, which will include 40 recipes and six weeks of meal plans.
Is the Galveston Diet the same as the keto diet?
The Galveston Diet and the keto diet share a lot of similarities. “The Galveston Diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet, where about 70 percent of your calories come from fat, 20 percent from protein, and nine percent from carbs,” explains Ehsani. “This is the low-carbohydrate phase of the diet. The duration looks different for each person and is based on how much weight a person wants to lose.”
Your carb intake is increased to a moderate level after some time on the Galveston Diet, which is different from the keto diet, where you stay low carb long-term to remain ketosis, where your body burns fat instead of carbs for energy.
The Galveston Diet is also different from keto in that it specifies what kinds of fat you should consume. It includes healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, nuts, and seeds) and excludes inflammatory ones (e.g., butter and red meat), says Rosen.
All in all, the Galveston Diet may be a healthier option between the two. “Since it recognizes that the quality of the food matters just as much as the quantity of macronutrients, it supports better health than the traditional keto diet,” says Rosen.
What are you allowed to eat on the Galveston Diet?
There are lots of delicious foods you can incorporate into the Galveston Diet, including the following.
- Fruits (lower in sugar): Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
- Vegetables (low in starch): Greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, broccoli
- Lean proteins: Chicken, salmon, tuna, turkey, eggs
- Legumes: Beans (chickpeas, black beans), lentils, nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, chia seeds)
- Whole grains: Whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, buckwheat
- Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese
- Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocado oil
What foods are not allowed on the Galveston Diet?
The Galveston Diet encourages you to stay away from foods that are pro-inflammatory and lack nutritional value, which can cause weight gain and offer little benefit to your overall health, says Ehsani. You’re probably already familiar with at least some of these.
- White flour: White bread, baked goods like muffins, cookies, cakes, crackers, pretzels
- Foods with high fruit corn syrup: sodas, desserts, syrups
- Alcohol: Beer, wine, liquor
- Fried foods: French fries, fried chicken sandwiches
- Vegetable oils: Canola or vegetable oil
- Foods that contain added sugar: Sweetened yogurts, sugary cereals, cookies, candies
- Processed meats: Salami, bacon, sausage
What does a sample meal plan for the Galveston Diet look like?
If you’re curious about this diet, here’s a six-day meal plan provided by Ehsani and Rosen that you can check out.
Read more The Galveston Diet: Everything You Need to Know
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with veggies like tomato, spinach, and mushrooms cooked in olive oil, and a cup of berries
- Lunch: Grilled chicken breast cooked in olive oil over a bed of mixed greens and avocado
- Dinner: Shrimp with zucchini noodles
- Snacks: Cashews and strawberries
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt bowl with berries and almond butter and chia seeds
- Lunch: Portobello mushrooms filled with ground beef
- Dinner: Spaghetti squash made with ground beef and veggie marinara sauce
- Snacks: Hummus with celery
- Breakfast: Blueberry smoothie with collagen and spinach leaves
- Lunch: Beef burger without the bun, served over grilled veggies like eggplant, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and onion
- Dinner: Roasted salmon with asparagus and cauliflower rice
- Snacks: Cheese slices and sugar snap peas
- Breakfast: Plain Greek yogurt with chia seeds, chopped walnuts, and raspberries
- Lunch: Salad with spinach, grilled chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, vinegar, and olive oil
- Dinner: Baked salmon with roasted asparagus
- Snack: Two hard-boiled eggs with everything-but-the-bagel seasoning
- Breakfast: Veggie omelet cooked in avocado oil with a side of berries
- Lunch: Bell peppers baked with lean ground turkey, and zucchini topped with diced avocado
- Dinner: Spaghetti squash with lean ground turkey and crushed tomatoes
- Snack: Baby carrots dipped in Greek yogurt-based tzatziki
- Breakfast: Chia seed pudding with crushed almonds and blueberries
- Lunch: Salad with spring mix, grilled shrimp, red onions, avocado, and olive oil drizzle
- Dinner: Cauliflower rice taco bowl with lean ground beef, peppers, and guacamole
- Snack: Celery sticks with almond butter
What are the pros and cons of the Galveston Diet?
The Galveston Diet doesn’t require you to count calories, which may work better for some people. And the diet focuses on helping you develop healthy eating and exercise habits that will set you up for success in the long run rather than restricting and crash dieting.
If you’re new to the 16:8 diet, it may prevent late-night eating or snacking. On the flip side, it may cause some people to overeat during the feeding window to prevent feelings of hunger later when they’re not supposed to eat.
Also, you can tweak the Galveston Diet so that it works for plant-based eaters. “It can be made vegetarian- or vegan-friendly, but the diet itself does not eliminate animal-based foods,” says Rosen.
The one downside is that there has been no clinical trials or research done on this diet, so it’s hard to say for sure that it’s effective at cutting down on inflammation, reducing menopause symptoms, or aiding weight loss (unlike Mediterranean diet, which research has shown can lower inflammation). But if the reviews are any indication, many women who tried this diet achieved their weight-loss goals and felt healthier and more confident than before.
And TBH, the diet is pretty safe to try. Just make sure to check in with your doc before diving in, especially if you’re immunosuppressed or have diabetes or a history of disordered eating because intermittent fasting is not recommended if any of these applies to you.
— Update: 11-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article The Galveston Diet: Everything You Need to Know from the website www.byrdie.com for the keyword pros and cons of galveston diet.
While dietary guidelines for fertility and pregnancy are plentiful, fewer diets focus on another phase of hormonal life for those assigned female at birth: menopause. Enter the Galveston diet, an eating program specifically designed for those experiencing the side effects of menopause.
Is it a viable option for those looking to improve their health, or just another entry in the long list of fad diets? Ahead, a nutritional psychiatrist and two nutritionists explain how the Galveston diet works, and share their honest opinions on the pros and cons of this eating plan developed especially for those who are menopausal.
What Is the Galveston Diet?
Created by an OBGYN, Mary Claire Haver, MD, the Galveston diet is intended to help reduce symptoms of menopause, which include slower metabolism, inflammation, and hot flashes. “When we get older our insulin sensitivity alters, and our metabolism slows and in general it’s more of a challenge to digest and process the energy we consume,” says Naidoo. “The Galveston diet is an anti-inflammatory diet that focuses on lean proteins and low-glycemic carbohydrates which could potentially help those with female bodies manage their weight,” especially as they enter menopause.
“When we get older, our insulin sensitivity alters, our metabolism slows, and in general, it’s more of a challenge to digest and process the energy we consume,” she continues. “Having a diet rich in fiber and whole foods, focusing on low-glycemic foods, healthy fats, and good sources of lean protein might help stabilize your insulin and blood sugar levels allowing your body to naturally detoxify,” Naidoo notes.
Additionally, Naidoo explains that altering your diet can help curb typical menopausal side effects like hot flashes. “Although it’s still not clear exactly how hormonal changes cause hot flashes,” she says, “most research suggests that they happen from a decrease in estrogen levels (that happens naturally during menopause) causing your body’s thermostat (hypothalamus) to become inaccurate and more sensitive to changes in body temperature.” According to Naidoo, fiber and a whole-food diet is known to stabilize estrogen levels, so by following a diet that underscores these types of foods, you will improve these effects.
What to Eat On the Galveston Diet
“The diet is essentially a lower carb diet, and one that focuses on lean proteins, healthy fats and certain produce items,” explains Caspero. “Approved protein sources are salmon and grass-fed meats like beef, turkey, chicken, and eggs. Greek yogurt is also permitted as a source of probiotics and calcium, as is quinoa, a pseudo-grain that's given the green light as a 'complete' protein source.”
Richards adds that lean protein “is chosen to ensure a reduced amount of saturated fat intake,” and that eating a diet rich in healthy fats has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. “These fats include nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado.”
Low-starch fruits and vegetables are permissible on the Galveston Diet. These include berries and tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
Read more Guide To Low Carb Options For Mexican Cuisine
Caspero recommends a well-rounded multivitamin with iron to “bump up your micronutrient intake, since this diet lacks in whole grains.” She’d also add a potent probiotic to “boost good bacteria,” and vitamin D. Richards also suggests supplementing vitamin D on the Galveston diet, as well as adding fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids.
When to Eat On the Galveston Diet
A key component to the diet is intermittent fasting, or daily time-restricted feeding. “Haver claims that you can reduce menopause symptoms if you reduce the amount of hours you eat in a day, avoid food that triggers inflammation, and focus on anti-inflammatory foods instead,” says Caspero.
Naidoo advocates the practice of intermittent fasting, with a few caveats. “While intermittent fasting seems like a new trend, it has been part of many religions and ancient traditions for centuries. Now, Western medicine is paying attention to it, new research is emerging, and the results are exciting,” she says. “From what we know of the current research, having an eight-hour window of eating followed by a 16-hour period of fasting might support weight control and improve insulin sensitivity.”
She explains that when you enter a fasting state, your insulin levels go down and induce a state of ketosis. “During ketosis, your body switches from using glucose (sugar from carbohydrates) as the main source of energy to using stored fat (ketones) instead.” As a result, you start burning fat and supporting weight loss. Naidoo adds that emerging research suggests intermittent fasting might reduce feelings of anxiety. “There is still ongoing research, but there is also some evidence that intermittent fasting may even induce neurological adaptations over time, becoming neuroprotective and reducing the symptoms of anxiety.”
Intermittent fasting as part of the Galveston diet may not be for everyone. Naidoo advises people with diabetes to be carefully monitored by their doctor if they want to try this dietary practice. Furthermore, she adds, “Most intermittent fasting research has been done prominently with patients [assigned male at birth], not with [those assigned female]. Preliminary empirical research has found [those assigned female at birth] have a stronger hormonal response to intermittent fasting, making it a powerful—but also dangerous—tool when using it as a weight control intervention.” She underscores the importance of speaking to a physician to find a diet that works with your individual health needs.
Dietary Restrictions of the Galveston Diet
Like many diets aimed at weight loss and anti-inflammation, the Galveston diet prohibits processed foods, first and foremost.
“This dietary approach recommends avoiding processed convenience foods, like those found in the middle aisles of the grocery stores,” says Richards. “These foods are made with refined carbohydrates which are highly inflammatory. They are also typically packed with sugar and gluten, which you are strongly encouraged to avoid on the Galveston diet.”
Richards says the Galveston diet is “worth trying and can be easy to stick to if you allow yourself time to see the results and make it a lifestyle.” She also recommends an anti-inflammatory approach to eating when it comes to navigating hormonal changes. “As [those with female bodies] age, their hormones change rapidly. The Galveston diet takes an anti-inflammatory approach to the menopausal person's diet to directly impact hormonal and physical changes that are occurring.”
Naidoo says there’s a strong connection between our gut and mood, and suggests that the foods outlined on the Galveston diet might help regulate the mood swings associated with menopause. “By following a colorful diet (which brings powerful antioxidants to the body and brain) that contains fiber rich foods, low glycemic index carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean proteins, you will improve the inflammatory markers in the body,” she says. In turn, your gut microbiome will benefit and develop insulin resistance to “ultimately improve your mood and help your hormonal balance, too.”
One major drawback of the Galveston diet is its high cost, which might make it inaccessible for some. “This diet is clearly aimed at affluent” dieters, says Caspero, explaining that the protein sources that underpin the diet “tend to be the most expensive choices in the grocery store, and for many, grass-fed meat can be harder to find.”
Secondly, the Galveston diet is essentially a gluten-free diet, which, according to Caspero, might not be the best approach unless you suffer from celiac disease. “Science shows that unless you are part of the population with celiac disease…or have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there’s no need to go gluten-free.” In fact, she says there are detrimental effects to going gluten-free unless you need to. “Most gluten-free products are more processed than their whole grain counterparts and lack the micronutrients and fiber that makes whole grains such a healthy choice.”
A third drawback of the Galveston diet, according to Caspero, is the restriction of so-called starchy fruits, like bananas. “As a dietitian, the starchy vs. non-starchy argument doesn't have legs,” she says. “The fruit obesity paradox has been shown over and over again. Consuming all fruits, even bananas, contributes to weight loss.”
Finally, Caspero adds that there’s little science behind the Galveston diet, which makes it less appealing in comparison to other diet options out there. “When analyzing any diet, it’s important to compare what we know,” Caspero says. “To me, it falls flat in comparison with other weight loss and health promoting diets, like a Mediterranean diet, which aren’t as restrictive, are more inclusive of all incomes, and are more evidence-based.”
Diets like the Galveston diet can be useful roadmaps and can introduce people to practices, like intermittent fasting, that may be new for them. Ultimately, however, it's important to remember that “there is no one diet that fits all,” says Naidoo. “The gut microbiome is like a thumbprint—there’s no single solution for all individuals,” she adds. The ways people digest, process, and use foods is unique. Add to that the different ways we use energy, insulin, and metabolize calories, and it's easy to see how general diet guidelines may not be effective for all people.
Informing yourself about dietary plans is a good first step to eating for your lifestyle and individual health concerns—but make sure you consult with a physician first.