How to Find the Metabolism of Your Youth
After giving birth to two daughters, with her fortieth birthday approaching, Dr. Sara Gottfried was struggling with weight loss resistance. Despite the advice her own doctor at the time gave her, Gottfried realized that weight loss was not a simple matter of calorie in, calorie out. The key, she found, was in resetting the hormones of metabolism. Since successfully doing so herself, Gottfried developed a diet and plan that has helped tens of thousands of women (online and IRL) do the same, losing inches and pounds in the process, and ultimately feeling better in middle age and beyond than they ever had before. High School Genes is the vitamin and supplement protocol she developed to support other women looking to do the same:
A Q&A with Dr. Sara Gottfried
Are there specific ingredients that are heroes that were important to include? Any that work together to become more powerful?
This regimen includes the ingredients that I’ve found to be the most effective at resetting metabolism in my functional medicine practice:
BERBERINE (included in the Gut Balance tablet), an herbal therapy that corrects wayward blood sugar, is one of the most proven supplements for reversing a slow metabolism, with over thirty randomized trials showing its efficacy (the highest form of evidence) (1). Berberine works by lowering glucose and resetting your insulin. When metabolism slows down, the final result is that you develop a problem with insulin block and rising blood sugar. Most women have no idea, but as fasting blood sugar climbs above 85 mg/dL and into the pre-diabetes range (100-125 mg/dL), you may notice more belly fat, sugar cravings, and weight loss difficulties.
In conjunction with the Gut Balance supplement, the Metabolism Boost blend resets insulin and blood sugar by helping your body become sensitive to insulin again. Specific micronutrients in this regimen that really move the needle are: COPPER, ZINC, SELENIUM for the thyroid; B VITAMINS (including niacin, L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, B6, B12) for the adrenal glands; DECAFFEINATED GREEN TEA (ECGC) to help promote healthy insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells; and CHROMIUM plus CINNAMON to sensitize cells to insulin.
Together, the Gut Balance, Metabolism Boost, and Phytoblend Multi address the aging thyroid with the right, supportive dose of copper, zinc, selenium, and VITAMIN D.
The OMEGA-3 formula has been shown to lower cortisol to healthier levels and to increase lean body mass.
Many women with weight loss resistance have an overgrowth of Candida. The Gut Balance formulation helps to reset the microbiome with BERBERINE, LICORICE, GINGER, and RHUBARB.
ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID, in the Free Radical Scavenger tablet, has been shown to improve weight loss, particularly in women (2). It works by preventing the accumulation of cell damage in the body, which I think of as “rust,” and restores healthy levels of vitamins C and E.
Why do we need these ingredients in supplement form?
There’s a few compelling reasons to take a supplement:
Even if you eat an impeccable diet, unless you have zero stress, you will deplete B vitamins as you age. These micronutrient deficiencies need to be replenished to keep you healthy.
Your thyroid tends to slow down after forty, in part because the micronutrients that support it (copper, zinc, selenium, vitamin D) are depleted in our soil, making it difficult to stay at optimal levels without supplementing your diet.
Oxidative stress, or rust, is a byproduct of living in the modern world. The way to combat oxidative stress is to neutralize it with antioxidants, like the alpha lipoic acid included in this supplement pack, as well as with ample fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet.
If you have any problems with your weight, chances are you have a blood sugar problem. Half the population struggles with this by conservative estimates of diabesity. We can help reverse the issue with the most proven micronutrients (chromium, omega-3s) and herbal therapies (berberine, cinnamon).
While taking this regimen, what kind of diet do you recommend?
The food plan that I recommend to patients is the Hormone Reset Diet, which I developed after twenty years of taking care of 20,000 patients. I’ve tested it on myself and on 10,000 people in my online detox programs. In extensive pre- and post-surveys conducted after one month on the diet, the average weight loss is 10-15 pounds, blood sugar goes down by 21 points, and 2-4 inches are lost off the waist.
The main point is to reset the seven hormones of metabolism: estrogen, insulin, leptin, cortisol, thyroid, growth hormone, and testosterone.
Red meat and pork (red meat raises estrogen, and most of us have estrogen overload)
Alcohol [if you don’t give it up, see here for why Dr. Gottfried suggests organic red wine]
Sugar and sugar substitutes (stevia is okay)
High-fructose fruit (limit to 25 grams per day of fructose)
Caffeine (for people who cannot live without it, green tea is okay; more below)
All grains (can cause bloating; including corn and gluten-free grains)
Dairy (common intolerant; organic ghee is okay)
Toxins (from BPA plastic, non-stick pans, non-clean beauty products, etc.)
Get a minimum of 1 pound of vegetables per day. Extra credit for eating 20-30 species of plants each week. This helps to reset the microbiome, especially the estrobolome, the subset of the microbiome that modulates estrogen levels and your risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and diabetes (3).
Have four to five forkfuls of fermented vegetables daily to lower blood glucose.
Consume sufficient carbs to support thyroid and adrenals. Low-carb diets can often cause more thyroid and adrenal problems. Everyone is a little different on the threshold of carbs that leads to weight loss, but start by aiming for about 50-75 grams of carbs per day for weight loss (and if you calculate fiber, aim for 25-49 net carbs—total carbs minus fiber, in grams).
Eat the minimum clean, anti-inflammatory protein to maintain muscle mass. Generally that means 4-6 ounces of low-mercury seafood (wild-caught salmon, Alaskan halibut, Oregon steelhead), or lentils, legumes, or 2 ounces of seeds or nuts at each meal. Extra protein will be converted into glucose.
Slowly transition from coffee to green tea to herbal tea. I’ve seen that when women can get off of caffeine completely, they sleep better, which can activate weight loss.
Drink ample filtered water—about half your weight (in pounds) in ounces.
This diet helped many of my patients recover from hormone imbalances that are at the root of a broken metabolism.[For a complete food plan, plus recipes, to partner with the High School Genes regimen, see here.]
What kind of exercise/activity best complements the regimen?
It depends on where you start: If you’re pushing really hard with exercise and not seeing the results you want, you may need to back off and focus on more adaptive exercise that doesn’t raise cortisol. My favorites are barre and dance classes, along with yoga. (If my patients practiced yoga daily, they wouldn’t need me!)
Exercise is vital to balancing your hormones, but workouts that place a lot of stress on the body (i.e. chronic, non-stop cardio) can cause cortisol to shoot up. Adaptive exercise, as well as burst training, are more likely to stabilize cortisol than running a half marathon. Burst training involves short periods of high intensity exercise with moderate-level exercise as recovery.
[If you’re struggling with weight loss resistance, check out more of Dr. Gottfried’s exercise tips here.]
Are there other lifestyle changes that can make a noticeable difference?
Meditation, every morning, for 30 minutes, is nonnegotiable for me, personally. Not only does it reset my cortisol and blood sugar in the morning, it helps me sustain hormonal balance throughout the day. If that sounds like torture, try the Muse meditation assistant to make it more fun.
What kind of impact can people expect the regimen to have and when?
After one month: Blood sugar should drop by 20 points, which results in weight loss and inches off the waist (as found in our beta test of 2,500 women).
Two months: You’ll find a rhythm, and develop a food code—your red light (adversely affect you), yellow light (you can do okay with in moderation, but mostly try to avoid), and green light foods when it comes to your metabolism. Most of my clients find they lose another 8 pounds, but a healthy and sustainable pace is about 1 pound per week.
Three months: You’ll feel back home in your body again. Blood sugar will be stable, and you’ll intuitively make wiser choices about food, exercise, and life.
(2) Alpha-lipoic acid:
Sara Gottfried, M.D. is the New York Times bestselling author of Younger, The Hormone Reset Diet, and The Hormone Cure. She’s a graduate of Harvard Medical School and MIT, and teaches medical students at the University of San Francisco, where she completed her residency. Dr. Gottfried’s online health programs can be accessed here. And you can see the goop vitamin/supplement protocol that she developed for women who feel like their metabolism might be slowing down, here.
The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.