Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home." She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated."
Dr. Abravanel's Body Type Diet: Thyroid Type Metabolism
If you have taken Dr. Abravanel's body type test and have discovered that you are a thyroid type, congratulations: You are beginning a journey in self-discovery and improved health. By following this diet, you will eventually achieve your ideal body weight and shape.
If you have not yet taken the test, you can do so on these pages:
What Are the Basic Principles Behind Dr. Abravanel's Body Type Diet?
If you have already read the article "How to Lose Belly Fat, Thigh Fat, Hip Fat" then you understand the basic idea behind Dr. Abravanel's diet. A medical doctor, Dr. Abravanel designed a diet based on four basic body types or metabolisms. He calls them: Thyroid, Adrenal, Gonadal and Pituitary. Through his clinical practice, he began to notice that some patients lost weight while on certain types of diets, for example a high protein diet, while other patients who were equally determined to lose weight either maintained or lost weight in the wrong places.
Based on research and decades of experience, Dr. Abravanel developed the theory that our metabolism is based on which main gland dominates our bodies. This also influences our body shape and which foods we crave due to their ability to boost our energy levels. The book, Dr. Abravanel's Body Type and Lifetime Nutrition Plan, contains many interesting case studies of his patients and their success with his diet plans. It also lays out the specific diet plans for each metabolism. He even offers advice of exercise and lifestyle changes that can benefit those who fall into each category.
My Experience With the Thyroid Body Type Diet
After learning that I fall into the thyroid category of metabolism, I waited two weeks before starting the diet plan. I wasn't really overweight and since I craved sugar, the idea of giving it up even for 30 days seemed overwhelming. My friends who practice the nutrition plan encouraged me, saying if they could do it then so could I. They also talked about the benefits they were enjoying, such as weight loss, increased energy levels and feeling happier and less moody. After weighing the advantages and disadvantages, I decided I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
To be honest, the diet program was a challenge at first. When I removed sugar from my diet, I realized how much I craved it. I also began to realize how much I relied on sugar for energy and to get through the day. I had enjoyed a steady diet of fruit juice, brownies, chocolates, cakes and other sweets. At first, I was shocked that Dr. Abravanel's diet didn't include fruit for the first 30 days. But fruit is so good for my health, I thought! But after trying the 30 day plan, I realized how much better I felt and that fruit had been over-stimulating my thyroid gland.
Now I have gradually added some fruit back into my diet, especially low sugar fruits. Once you reestablish balance in your system and your metabolism has been reset, you will be more in tune with how your body reacts as you reintroduce sugars back into your diet. Several months later, I can honestly say that I don't crave sugar like I did before. Very sweet desserts don't appeal to me anymore and I find myself enjoy healthier desserts sweetened with carob or lucuma powder, maple sugar and other lower-glycemic sugars. I have also begun using stevia as a sweetener in some foods.
- Get adequate protein in the form of eggs, milk, yogurt or cottage cheese, poultry and fish and 2 small servings of beef a week.
- Eat plenty of vegetables
- Consume 2.5 servings of complex carbohydrates a day
- Avoid fruit, sugar and processed carbohydrates during the first 30 days or so
The Thyroid Body Type Weight Loss Program
Basically, the first 30 days of the diet plan for thyroid types involves cutting out foods that overstimulate the thyroid gland. You will probably find a large part of your diet consists of one or more of the following foods: caffeine (caffeinated sodas, coffee and tea), refined carbohydrates (pasta, sugar, white flour, white rice and other refined grains) and fruit. You may try to eat a healthy diet, but find yourself getting most of your nutrition from carbohydrates in the form of grains and natural sugars. Even this type of diet can lead to an imbalance in the system of a thyroid type.
Thyroid types need an adequate amount of protein, more than any other metabolism type. This is not a high protein diet, but rather a low-fat diet that involves sufficient protein, some complex carbohydrates and plenty of fresh or cooked vegetables. Dr. Abravanel recommends eating two eggs for breakfast and getting protein at lunch and dinner in the form of chicken, fish and some red meat.
Thyroid types have the most unsteady energy levels of all metabolism types. We tend to have energy spikes throughout the day followed by feeling drained, which can make us sleepy, nervous or irritable. Although thyroid types are usually fine-boned and graceful and have a good balance of weight above and below the waist, we also tend to gain weight in either the chest or thighs. As we become very overweight, we may have a spare tire, wide hips or heavy upper thighs.
In order to reset the thyroid metabolism, you need to cut out all sugars, caffeine and refined carbohydrates. Once your system is balanced, you can reintroduce moderate amounts of these foods, in the form of several pieces of fruit a week and 1-2 sugary desserts and/or coffee drinks.
I found that even though I wasn't overweight, this diet caused the weight to redistribute itself around my body. My thighs are hips are now more in balance with the rest of my body. My face looks fuller and healthier than before beginning this weight loss plan.
Which complex carbohydrates are allowed for thyroid types? You can eat whole grains only: brown rice, whole wheat, rye, millet, quinoa, etc. You may also consume moderate amounts of potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Foods for Dr. Abravanel's Nutritional Plan: Thyroid Types
small baked potato
2 eggs, any style
small sweet potato
unsweetened skim yogurt or milk
quinoa, kamut, bulgar wheat, brown rice, etc.
plenty of roasted, stirfried or steamed vegetables
whole grain bread, corn tortillas, whole grain tortillas
avoid sugar, alcohol, etc.
whole grain English muffins
avoid fruit in the first 30 days
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner for Thyroid Types
Start your day with a cup of decaffeinated coffee or tea. Or better yet, try a cup of red raspberry leaf tea. It has a pleasantly astringent flavor and provides many benefits for our metabolism. It will reduce our cravings for sugars and caffeine, help you maintain more even moods and energy levels and will strengthen and soothe your metabolism. Don't add sugar or honey, although stevia is allowed if you must sweeten your drink. If you are addicted to caffeine and find the withdrawal too unpleasant, cut down gradually, reducing it by a cup a day, until you are completely off caffeine.
You must also eat foods that build up your adrenals, which will counterbalance the overstimulated thyroid. The best way to do this is by eating eggs everyday. According to Dr. Abravanel, "eggs supply a highly useful form of cholesterol that is used in the manufacture of adrenal hormones." Start every day with two eggs for breakfast. I try to consume organic, free range eggs.
Many T-types eat have the habit of only eating toast and coffee for breakfast. They may even baulk at the idea of eating eggs. But Dr. Abravanel says that 1-2 weeks of eating eggs for breakfast brings about striking transformation in his patients. It gives the adrenals needed support and resets the metabolism. If you are concerned about cholesterol levels, since there is much controversy about eggs and cholesterol levels, he says that the latest findings indicate that cholesterol in the diet has very little effect on blood cholesterol levels, particularly in thyroid types. Your high triglycerides are most likely resulting from too many refined carbs.
However, it is always a good idea to consult a physician and follow his or her advice. If you are advised to restrict egg intake, substitute four ounces of white poultry for each 2 egg serving. But if you can, please try the eggs, white and yolk together.
For lunch and dinner, you need to consume plenty of poultry and fish, some red meat and lots of vegetables. Light animal proteins are nourishing to the adrenals, but don't overstimulate them as would result from eating too much red meat. You are allowed to eat small portions of red meat 2-3 times a week.
Eat an abundance of vegetables, either cooked or raw as in salads. Some adrenal types find that salads make them feel cold, as we tend to feel cold often. I was surprised that Dr. Abravanel recommends cooked vegetables with the current raw trend, but the GAPS diet also theorizes that we can't properly break down and assimilate raw vegetables and too much insoluble fiber can actually cause leaky gut syndrome. So I now eat lots of lightly steamed or roasted vegetables.
So our diet strategy involves eggs every day (two at breakfast), lots of protein from chicken (skinless) and fish and small amounts of protein from red meat, a small amount of carbohydrates from whole grains and no fruit.
A surprising benefit I have enjoyed from this lifestyle plan is feeling much warmer. I live at high altitude in a cool climate. Before this diet plan, I bundled up every day with sweaters, boots and coats. Now I find myself wearing 3/4 length sleeves or even short sleeves and feeling much warmer. My toes and fingers are no longer ice cold. My immune system has also improved and I seem to be overcoming my digestive issues and other small health problems.
It is also important for T-Types to observe intervals between meals. Try to avoid snacking as much as possible. Try to fast four hours between breakfast and lunch and six hours between lunch and dinner. These are intervals in which fat is burned.
Your danger periods are whenever the thyroid gland is low. This can happen at any time, whenever your body craves caffeine, sweets or starches. First you will feel a wave of tiredness and the urge to snack, then fatigue will set in 3-4 hours later.
If you need a snack, your best snack provides a protein boost. A good strategy is to keep boiled eggs close at hand, or another protein snack such as almonds. You could also try 1-2 ounces of chicken or a piece of healthy turkey jerky. Keeping protein snacks on hand will keep you from grabbing a quick cookie, which will leave us feeling exhausted a few hours later.
Stick closely to the program. you can substitute within the boundaries of the program, but do not rearrange food among meals since the order and distribution is important for your metabolism. Meat can be broiled, grilled or baked with all fat removed. Vegetables can be stamed, boiled, broiled or sauteed or roasted in the amount of oil allowed in the diet program. Do not omit anything. Every food is there for a reason.
2 eggs, any style
1 teaspoon of butter or vegetable oil (used to cook the eggs or spread on the toast)
1/2 slice whole grain bread or toast
1 cup only of decaffeinated coffee or tea or as much red raspberry leaf tea as you'd like
Don't eat for 4 hours
Any combination of cooked or raw vegetables, at least 1 cup. Make a large salad or have a plate of cooked vegetables.
- 1 teaspoon of clear diet dressing (not creamy or spicy)
- 1 teaspoon of butter or diet mayo
- 4 ounces of poultry or fish
- 1 serving (1/2 cup) whole grains, 1 slice of whole grain bread or a small potato or sweet potato
- 1 cup of skim milk or yogurt
- raspberry leaf tea
Wait six hours to eat again or have a protein snack in between meals
- 4 ounces of poultry, fish, lamb, beef or organ meat (eat beef only 2-3 times a week)
- raw or steamed veggies, at least 1 cup
- 1 serving (1/2 cup) whole grains or 1 slice of whole grain bread
- 1 cup of skim milk or yogurt
- raspberry leaf tea
For protein sources, you can also try canned, water-packed tuna with 1 tablespon of diet mayonnaise on a slice of whole grain bread, 1/2 whole grain English muffin or 1/2 whole grain bagel. You can also try whole grain crackers such as rye Krispbread.
I recommend buying Dr. Abravanel's book if you find the diet plan works for you. He outlines a stricter diet for those who reach a plateau or are very overweight. It involves adding vegetable soup to all 3 meals and eliminating many of the complex carbohydrates.
Make the Diet Interesting
Vary the menu so you don't get tired of the diet plan. For breakfast try poached, fried, baked or scrambled eggs. Or make an omelette with fresh herbs.
For dinner enjoy chicken stew, stuffed poultry, grilled halibut or salmon steak, sliced turkey, shrimp kabobs, roast lamb or whatever floats your boat. Just make sure the poultry is skinless and you don't use too much fat in cooking.
Substitute corn or whole-grain tortillas (here's how to make your own) for the whole grain option. You could grill some flank steak and stir fry plenty of peppers, onions and garlic. Top with guacamole and low fat sour cream.
If You Have Lactose Intolerance
The milk or yogurt option is important to get enough protein for your thyroid body type. If you are lactose intolerant, though, you can substitute soy milk although Dr. Abravanel feels the protein it provides isn't as easy to assimilate. You may be able to tolerate homemade, fresh milk kefir if you want to try making it.
Buy Dr. Abravanel’s Book:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I eat avocados while on the thyroid body-type diet?
Answer: Although Dr. Abravanel doesn’t specifically mention avocados in his book, they are high in fiber and good fat while low in sugar and carbohydrates. I imagine the good doctor would approve.
Question: What about "sweet" veggies like corn, beets, peas, yams and carrots for a thyroid body type diet?
Answer: The thyroid-type vegetable soup has carrots, celery, green beans and squash. None of the thyroid recipes include corn, beets or yams. It would probably be best to eat them in small amounts since the thyroid diet focuses mainly on proteins instead of carbs.
Question: I am a vegetarian and do not eat eggs. What do you suggest I eat for breakfast to properly follow the Body Type Diet?
Answer: Dr. Abravanel does not recommend vegetarianism for your body type since you need larger amounts of protein that other types.
Question: Can I substitute legumes such as peas, green grams, for the white meats?
Answer: No, Dr. Abravanel doesn’t allow substituting legumes for the white meats.
Question: Can l eat tomatoes on the thyroid body type diet?
Answer: Yes, Dr. Abravanel doesn´t mention any restrictions against tomatoes (or any nightshades, for that matter) for thyroid types. Of course, if you have food sensitivities to the nightshade family or a condition such as acid reflux, you would have to consult with your doctor for his advice.
Question: Is there a cookbook specific to the Thyroid body type or do you have one you recommend?
Answer: Dr. Abravanel hasn’t published a cookbook for the body types, although his book does include some recipes. But since the thyroid types need plenty of protein and should avoid sugars and simple carbs, a cookbook based on whole foods would be a good source of some recipes. Of course, you would have to avoid fruit the first 30 days and after that follow Dr. Abravanel’s specifications as to how much fruit and sugars can be consumed without stimulating the thyroid gland.
Question: Are good grains like Wasa bread or toasted spelt, because of the gluten, excluded from the thyroid body type diet?
Answer: Dr. Abravanel’s studies didn’t involve the effects of gluten on the human body. The Thyroid diet does exclude caffeine and all simple carbohydrates because of their effect on the thyroid. Once the patient has lost weight and his system has balanced out, he can slowly add back whole grains such as Wasa bread and spelt, as long as they are consumed in reasonable amounts.
Question: The overall summary is good. But telling everyone it’s okay to eat animals and byproducts is very outdated. How about a healthier plant-based approach, instead?
Answer: I agree with what you’re saying about a plant-based diet. Although I eat eggs and fish, I have adopted a more plant-based diet and it works for me. My husband and some of my friends still consume meat and I respect their right to choose their own life style.
Question: I have hypothyroidism and am on Euthyrox. Do I have the thyroid body type?
Answer: If your test results determined you are a thyroid type, that may explain your hypothyroidism. You should definitely see your medical doctor if you have any questions about the right diet for your hypothyroidism.
Question: Is oatmeal a good option for the thyroid body type diet?
Answer: Dr. Abravanel doesn’t mention oatmeal for the thyroid body type diet. He does recommend two eggs every day at breakfast, any style, along with 1/2 cup of whole grain bread which you could substitute for 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal. The reason is that thyroid types need a higher protein diet, and eggs are the best way to start out your day with a boost of protein.
Question: Is whole grain pasta a good option for this diet?
Answer: Yes, whole grain pasta would be acceptable for lunch or dinner. Dr. Abravanel´s diet plan allows for 1 serving of whole grains: brown rice, whole wheat, rye or millet. Vegetables and 4 ounces of protein would also be part of the balanced meal. The last 5 pounds diet, though, eliminates most carbohydrates, even from whole grains. That portion of the diet is only meant to be followed for a week at a time. Dr. Abravanel recommends raspberry leaf tea to help control cravings of thyroid types. I hope this answers your question. Happy dieting!
Question: Are goitrogenic (vegetables) bad? Should we avoid them on this diet?
Answer: Dr. Abravanel doesn’t explore this topic, but he does mention avoiding foods that stimulate the thyroid such as caffeine and sugar. Of course, as with any diet you should monitor your reaction to foods and avoid those that don’t agree with you.
Question: The book about thyroid body types states that no sugar should be consumed, which I understand. Can we eat sugar free items, for example, Crystal Light drink mixes?
Answer: Since sugar stimulates the thyroid, this sugar-free diet gives the thyroid a rest and balances out the metabolism. However, you should be able to enjoy some sugar-free items like Crystal Light, which contains aspartame. Stevia is another acceptable sweetener you can try. Good luck on the diet!
Question: The diet says 1 serving equals (1/2 cup) whole grains. Is this the cooked weight? One-half cup is about 95 grams. I think it is a bit too much.
Answer: Yes, the diet calls for 1/2 cup cooked whole grains. That is the amount Dr. Abravanel lists for his thyroid body type patients. I hope you have a chance to try the diet.
lemonkerdz from LIMA, PERU on December 15, 2017:
Hi there Vespawoolf! Thank you for such an informative and accurate article. I have read Dr. Abravanels book, and I have done the diet plan and it does work, with all the benefits you list. I find that I need to do this plan again for thirty days after a few recent lifestyle changes, so it’s great to get a quick concise review without needing to read all the book again. Thanks again.
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on February 04, 2016:
I'm glad you found this article on your body type, MizBejabbers! Yes, the sugar craving is hard to kick put that payoff makes it worthwhile.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on February 04, 2016:
I've read two hubs in this series now, and think you've given some good hints at giving up sugar cravings, my downfall. Thanks!
I seriously don't know about the caffeine. I gave it up completely several years ago, and drinking just didn't feel right without it. It was like, Oh heck, I may as well just drink water (which is probably what doctors wish we would do).
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on January 16, 2015:
Thanks for your support GetitScene!
Dale Anderson from The High Seas on January 16, 2015:
Let's face it, with a header pic like this one who isn't going to read this hub?!
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 25, 2014:
DeborahNeyens, I'm glad you were able to find your metabolism type and plan on making some dietary adjustments. It has been a journey for me. I have learned so much about the way my body reacts to different foods. I hope you have similar success!
Deborah Neyens from Iowa on June 24, 2014:
This is interesting. I read your other hub, took the test, and came here because I had more Cs than anything. I will consider making some dietary changes accordingly.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 18, 2014:
Interesting hub with lovely photos and most informative on eating correctly.
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 10, 2014:
Nice to meet you word55!
Al Wordlaw from Chicago on June 10, 2014:
Hi vespawoolf, nice hub for women I'm sure. I'm glad this diet works too. It was nice of Au fait to share this. Have a fantastic day!
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 10, 2014:
Au fait, you don't have far to go if cutting out sugar is the last thing on your list. Good for you! I find this diet is so worth it since I feel well on it. Thanks for the pin and share.
C E Clark from North Texas on June 10, 2014:
Since I have been on thyroid meds for 10 years, I guess this is the diet that would best suit me. I never drink coffee or tea and always go for low fat whenever possible. I guess it's just a matter of cutting out the sugar. I love veggies so they are the main part of my diet already. Sounds like a common sense diet and that makes it easier to stick with it. It's great that you're sharing this here. Pinning this to Awesome Hubpages and sharing.
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 06, 2014:
Denise Handlon, I'm happy you found this information useful! I'll soon write articles on the other body types, too. Thanks for reading.
Denise Handlon from North Carolina on June 06, 2014:
A wealth of info here that I will have to return to, since it is late right now. I'm heading to bed with some new, useful info. I'll read more later. Good job; you've done your work here that is for sure!
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 04, 2014:
AliciaC, I agree! I'm glad you found this useful.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 03, 2014:
Thanks for sharing the interesting information, vespawoolf. Designing a healthy diet that is also suitable for a particular metabolism is an important topic!
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 03, 2014:
FlourishAnyway, you sound like a definite thyroid type. Even if you can only make some modifications in your diet, you will still see some benefits.
Sanjay Sharma from Mandi (HP) India on June 02, 2014:
Thanks for sharing this valuable information.
FlourishAnyway from USA on June 02, 2014:
Oh no, vespawoolf. If it weren't for caffeine, sugar and carbs, I'd starve. That's my problem! Under serious duress I can give up sugar and carbs, but I become Not A Very Nice Lady when I don't have my caffeine.
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 02, 2014:
Epbooks, it is interesting how we change and adapt according to our circumstances. Thanks for reading.
Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on June 02, 2014:
Great advice here. It's funny how when you first give up something, you miss it greatly...then you get used to it. I used to use splenda and everything with splenda in it, but I gave it up about 2 years ago and now I can't stand the taste and don't miss it at all.
Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 01, 2014:
Suzettenaples, I'm glad you found this information informative. I think any positive diet changes, even if they seem small, can make a. Ig difference in the way we feel. I hope you have as positive an experience with this diet as I have enjoyed. Thank you for your comment.
Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on June 01, 2014:
Well, this is quite interesting and informative. I have a thyroid problem so this would be the diet for me. I eat a low-fat diet already so eating eggs for breakfast and cutting out sugar and caffeine is next . Thanks for sharing this-it is very helpful .