An Interview With Dr. Jade Teta
Many women report weight gain as the most unwelcome symptom of menopause. While fad diets may have worked in the past, once hormones are out of balance, they are rarely effective.
Dr Jade Teta has an alternative solution for women trying to lose menopausal weight. He is an integrative physician who specialises in natural health, fitness and body transformation. He is also co-author of The Metabolic Effect Diet and other titles, and a doctor of naturopathic medicine. Dr Teta is focused on the subject of hormonal weight loss and advocates a functional medicine approach to chronic disease.
Happy Hormones chatted with Dr Teta to find out about some ways in which he is helping women to deal more effectively with hormonal and metabolic changes.
Dr Teta, you have a program called Metabolic Renewal that’s tailored specifically to help people going through menopause and other fluctuations in hormones. What can you tell us about the program and how it differs to other options on the market?
The weight loss industry as a whole treats everyone the same. There is no appreciation of the hormonal differences between men and women, no distinction made between younger women and more mature women, and there is no consideration for the differences from one woman to another. This why almost all diet programs fail. Every human is unique in their physiology, psychology and personal preferences. These differences must be honored.
When a woman goes through menopause she first loses progesterone and then estrogen. These hormones help make a woman more insulin sensitive (estrogen) and less stress reactive (estrogen & progesterone). Losing these hormones mean changes in sleep, hunger, mood, energy and cravings. This often causes increased weight gain especially around the belly, and a decreased ability to manage excess calories in general. It is a double whammy for fat gain. Metabolic Renewal addresses this by helping women understand how their unique hormonal balance is impacting their metabolism, and how to address it. Each woman learns where their hormonal imbalances lie and how to manage them. They then are taught how to read the biofeedback of their bodies so they can individualise various lifestyle inputs like diet, exercise, mindset and movement. Metabolic Renewal teaches them how to address their unique female stage of life as well as their unique metabolic needs as an individual.
During your clinical experience, you have discovered the idea that most women fall into one of seven different core hormonal types. Can you please explain this?
The truth is there is no such thing as seven different hormonal types, because in reality every woman is unique; there are actually infinite hormonal types. However, in order for a woman to find her unique type she needs to be pointed in the right direction at first. The seven types is simply a diagnostic tool to start the process of self-discovery.
Think of it like Google Maps for your physiology. The hormone types gets you in the right city and perhaps neighborhood, but each individual must then find their correct street and house. I call this “structured flexibility.” Individualised medicine requires people to be given a structure (the hormone type) and also a set of instructions to be able to change and adjust based on their unique needs (the rest of the program).
What is one of the biggest differences between how women’s and men’s hormones work, that not a lot of people know?
The female hormonal process is more fine-tuned, sensitive and adjustable. The metabolism is nothing but one big stress barometer and the female stress barometer is more sensitive compared to a man. This makes sense since women are the one who bear children. Their metabolism must look out into the environment and make an assessment about the suitability of having a child at that moment.
Because of that, the female hormones fluctuate and adjust. The changing concentrations of estrogen and progesterone during the cycle are a reflection of that. Estrogen allows women to be in more of a building phase. It is kind of like a more refined version of make testosterone. It allows women to handle more stress, build more muscle and refine its fat storage (taking fat off of the belly and placing it more strategically on the hips, butt, thighs and breasts).
Progesterone tells the metabolism to refine and reserve. It prepares the female metabolism for the possibility of a fetus and therefore calms the body (stress reduction and cortisol blocking), but also holds onto more fuel (making the body more insulin resistant to keep some fat and sugar around for the baby). This is a very sensitive and coordinated process. The male physiology is not nearly as refined.
What are some key things women should start doing differently ASAP to start feeling better when they’re going through menopause?
The key is to understand that there are four aspects to metabolism, not just two. Most people think the metabolism is simply about diet and exercise. In reality there are two other areas that are arguably more important. Those are mindfulness (stress management) and movement (all activity excluding exercise).
These two areas have more influence over metabolism for most women. The metabolism is nothing more than one big stress barometer. Unfortunately, extreme diets and exercise that is too long, too frequent, too intense can stress out the metabolism further, creating compensatory changes that slow fat burning and increase hunger and cravings.
By instituting stress-reducing techniques and elevating non-exercise movement (like walking), this releases the breaks on fat loss. This is why individuals who go on vacation or move to a city like Paris or Manhattan often effortlessly lose weight. This is especially true of menopausal women who have lost the stress buffering aspects of estrogen and progesterone. For these women, the counterintuitive solution is often the best. Walk more but exercise less. Don’t eat less and exercise more, but rather more closely match intake and output by either eating less and exercising less or eating more and exercising more. This is how you manage the unique hormonal situation at menopause.
For readers who would like to learn more about the metabolism and how it works, what would you recommend?
Some of the information mentioned above is based on a brand new understanding of metabolism. It was not until around 2001 that regulating bodies in medical research started to mandate equal inclusion of women in studies. Up until this time, the vast majority of information on metabolism was derived from studies done on young college-aged men. This is part of the reason that information on this topic is confusing and less understood.
For those who would like to understand the latest data on metabolism, Dr Teta has a free beginner course called Metabolism School that will bring them up to date.
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