The Galveston diet is a weight loss program aimed at middle-age menopausal women.
Instead of simple calorie restriction, it emphasizes the importance of when to eat, what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid to reduce inflammation in the body.
This eating pattern is ultimately a 16/8 intermittent fasting regimen combined with a high fat, low carb diet and inflammation-fighting foods.
This article reviews the Galveston diet signature program and whether it’s effective for weight loss.
BOTTOM LINE: The Galveston diet is a very low carb diet program that promotes eating whole foods and foods shown to help fight inflammation. It’s expensive to maintain and has not been researched.
The Galveston signature program is a weight loss diet created by Dr. Mary Claire Haver, a board certified OB-GYN.
Haver developed the idea behind the diet as she was attempting to lose weight after going through menopause and grieving the loss of her brother.
After struggling to lose weight by eating less and exercising more, she realized that the traditional diet model of “calories in versus calories out” was incomplete.
She based the diet on the notion that your weight is primarily affected by your hormones, which are influenced by the quality of food you consume. As such, the Galveston diet emphasizes the quality of the foods you eat — and when you eat them — rather than calorie cutting.
Mary Claire Haver, an OB-GYN, created the Galveston diet to help middle-age women lose weight. It focuses on food quality and nutrient timing instead of calorie cutting.
The Galveston diet offers two diet programs.
Its signature program is intended for middle-age women to lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Alternatively, the Galveston Prime program is a nutrition-based wellness program for young adults.
The diet program also offers dietary supplements and an exercise regimen called the Move Mini-Course, all at an additional cost.
This article reviews the signature program and refers to it as the Galveston diet.
The Galveston diet signature program is an online program. There’s no set time period within which you have to finish it. You choose from three main programs:
Additionally, there are three major components of the Galveston diet.
The Galveston diet incorporates 16/8 intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting involves eating all your daily calories within a specific window of time. This eating window is then followed by a fasting window (
For 16/8 intermittent fasting, you eat all of your calories within an 8-hour window, then fast for the next 16 hours.
During the fasting window, you must not consume any calories. Zero-calorie beverages like plain water, unsweetened tea, and unsweetened coffee are allowed.
By limiting the time that you’re allowed to eat, people tend to eat fewer calories overall. This calorie deficit promotes weight loss (
In addition to promoting weight loss, intermittent fasting has been linked to other benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved insulin resistance, and decreased heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure (
Anti-inflammatory nutrition is the second component of the Galveston diet.
Inflammation is a normal immune response. Acute or short-term inflammation is important for fighting infection and healing wounds. However, low grade chronic inflammation is associated with conditions like obesity, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
A study in 20,337 people tied low grade chronic inflammation to a 44% higher risk of all-cause mortality over 5 years (
The Galveston diet encourages the intake of foods like vegetables and fruits, which are rich in plant compounds that help fight inflammation.
The Galveston diet is ultimately a high fat, low carb diet. It resembles the standard keto diet in its macronutrient distribution, as most daily calories come from fat.
An average American diet comprises about 35% calories from fat, 16% from protein, and 47% calories from carbs (
In comparison, the Galveston diet advocates getting about 70% of your daily calories from fats, 20% from protein, and 10% from carbs. The idea behind this shift is to get most of your calories from fat instead of carbs, or what the diet refers to as “Fuel Refocus.”
In general, carbs are your body’s preferred energy source. Yet, under low carb conditions like fasting or low carb diets, your body breaks down fat for energy. Evidence suggests high fat keto diets are more effective for weight loss than low fat diets among some people (
However, the Galveston diet differs from the traditional keto diet because it incorporates several other components. The result is a very low carb diet consumed within an 8-hour eating window that includes significant amounts of anti-inflammatory foods.
Comprising three main components — intermittent fasting, anti-inflammatory nutrition, and “Fuel Refocus” — the Galveston diet is a high fat intermittent fasting diet that focuses on nutrient-dense, antioxidant-packed foods.
The Galveston diet generally encourages high fat, low carb, antioxidant-rich, and anti-inflammatory foods. You’re also meant to drink tea and eat fermented foods that are rich in probiotics, while you should avoid most processed foods, added sugar, and alcohol.
You should eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies high in anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants on the Galveston diet, making sure to avoid sugary and fried foods, as well as alcohol.
During menopause, women become more prone to abdominal weight gain.
This happens because hormonal shifts cause fat stores to relocate to your body’s central parts (
Abdominal obesity, or increased waist size, is one of the risk factors that may increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke (
Although the Galveston diet itself has yet to be researched specifically, two of its main components — intermittent fasting and low carb dieting — have been extensively studied for their weight loss effects.
One 3-month study in 40 people showed that a 16/8 intermittent fasting diet reduced belly fat and cut waist size by an average of 2.1 inches (5.3 cm) (
In a 40-week study in 36 men with obesity, the group following intermittent fasting experienced 53% more weight loss than the group following a traditional calorie-restricted diet — and was more successful at maintaining weight loss over the following 6 months (
Another study in women with overweight showed that those following a low carb 5:2 intermittent fasting diet were 18–25% more successful at achieving significant weight loss than those who restricted calories (
Moreover, in a 4-month study in 20 people with obesity, a very low calorie, low carb diet led to an average weight loss of 44 pounds (20 kg), almost 81% of which was fat loss. They also preserved lean muscle mass and their metabolic rate (
Although no direct evidence suggests that the Galveston diet helps middle-age women lose weight, multiple studies have shown that its components, including intermittent fasting and low carb dieting, are effective for weight loss.
Apart from the weight loss, the Galveston diet may be associated with some health benefits, including lower levels of inflammation.
All the same, further studies must examine the diet’s effects on hormone balancing among menopausal women.
Chronic inflammation may contribute to health problems like heart disease, neurological disorders, certain cancer, and type 2 diabetes (
Notably, intermittent fasting reduces concentrations of inflammatory markers and protects blood vessels from plaque buildup and clogging (
Research also indicates that low carb diets may help reduce inflammation and combat inflammatory conditions like fatty liver disease, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis (
However, keto diets high in saturated fats may raise inflammation and decrease insulin sensitivity, which is known to increase your risk of type 2 diabetes (
Intermittent fasting and low carb diets have been shown to protect against various lifestyle illnesses, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and insulin resistance (
They’re also associated with a reduction in visceral fat, fasting insulin, and insulin resistance. All three of these are risk factors for type 2 diabetes (
Finally, both intermittent fasting and low carb diets have been shown to improve blood sugar management (
In one online intervention among adults with type 2 diabetes, 55% more people placed on a very low carb keto diet showed improved blood sugar management than those following a diet based on the diabetes plate method (
Components of the Galveston diet may help curb inflammation and protect against inflammatory conditions like heart disease and diabetes. However, more research is needed to examine the diet’s effects on hormonal balance among menopausal women.
For all its potential health benefits, the Galveston diet is not without drawbacks.
Very low carb diets tend to be low in dietary fiber. Most dietary fiber comes from high carb foods like fruits, whole grains, beans, and vegetables. Thus, drastic carb cutting affects your fiber intake.
Fiber is important for regular bowel movements, heart health, and gut health. A high fiber intake may even be associated with reduced instances of breast cancer and all-cause mortality (
In a 16-year study in 92,924 people, those with a high fiber intake had an 18–23% lower risk of death. This risk reduction was associated with fiber intake from beans, fruits, and vegetables (
Therefore, it’s important to include lower carb, fiber-rich foods like nonstarchy vegetables, avocados, and berries when following a low carb regimen like the Galveston diet.
People who find extremely low carb diets restrictive may be unable to follow the Galveston diet long term (
Furthermore, the Galveston diet is very high in fats and may be unsuitable for people who tend to experience a rise in cholesterol levels following a high fat diet (
As mentioned before, the Galveston diet has not been studied specifically.
As a precaution, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition or history of an eating disorder, speak with a healthcare professional before following any restrictive or extremely high fat diet like this one.
The Galveston diet has some major drawbacks, such as its restrictive nature and possible low fiber intake. Plus, there’s a lack of evidence to support its long-term health benefits or safety.
The Galveston diet is a low carb intermittent fasting program that provides nutrition education and meal prep guidance for a fee.
No scientific evidence supports the claim that the Galveston diet helps menopausal women lose weight. However, some aspects of the diet are linked to health benefits, including weight loss, reduced inflammation, and improved blood sugar management.
Be sure to consult a healthcare professional before trying the Galveston diet if you have any underlying health issues.
Last medically reviewed on May 18, 2021
The Galveston diet is a weight loss program aimed at middle-age menopausal women.