After two unsuccessful attempts at trying the classic ketogenic diet, I came up with the Gottfried Protocol, an approach that worked for me and can work for many women. It is a modified ketogenic diet that begins with detoxification, which is lacking in the classic ketogenic diet but needed by most women to burn fat. And it includes more carbohydrates, which support a woman’s hormonal balance. [Editor’s note: The classic ketogenic diet is generally a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet.]
The three pillars of the protocol are detoxification, nutritional ketosis, and low-stress intermittent fasting. The sequence is important. The three pillars are followed for four weeks. Then you add healthy carbs back in five gram increments to set your carb threshold. It has been successful in my medical practice for hundreds of women. More about each step:
Step 1: detox. Detox cleanses your liver of toxins and removes recirculating hormones that are badly affecting your metabolism. Clinically, we call this metabolic detox. For most of my patients, their bodies are not detoxing well. So in this protocol, we integrate things that help, like more polyphenols from foods of plant origin, including oils; cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower; other dark green leafy vegetables. And pooping on a daily basis is also important to the detoxification process.
Step 2: nutritional ketosis. Your body enters nutritional ketosis when you follow a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carbohydrate eating plan. I have adjusted the classic ketogenic diet by increasing carbohydrates to be more effective in restoring insulin levels in women. But on this diet, you are still eating a lot of plants and consuming tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, occasionally medium chain triglyceride oil, along with prebiotics and probiotics. We track your net carbs and other macronutrients, calculate your keto ratio, and if you’re ready, we measure your glucose-ketone ratio (more on this in the book).
Step 3: intermittent fasting. What I like best about intermittent fasting is that it is a back door to ketosis. This type of fast means that you don’t eat twelve to twenty-four hours in a single day. Intermittent fasting improves the balance of many hormones (eg, insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol) and leads to a metabolic shift, which suppresses insulin and glucose to a level that causes your body to switch from burning carbohydrates to burn fat. Fasting can help regulate inflammation, increase brain function, and lower blood pressure, and it can modulate leptin to make you feel more satisfied.
Insulin moves glucose into your cells.
Leptin tells you when you are full.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that controls blood sugar levels and regulates metabolism and inflammation.
Ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone, tells you when you are hungry.
Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism.
Testosterone is involved in muscle growth and repair, sex drive, and mood.
Growth hormone deficiency can contribute to anxiety, premature aging, fatigue, and the accumulation of abdominal fat.