Does the Keto Diet Work for Women? Top Tips From A Naturopathic Doctor
This blog has not been approved by your local health department and is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice.
In this article:
- What Is the Keto Diet?
- Potential Issues for Women
- Best Keto Diet Tips for Women
- Best Supplements for Women on the Keto Diet
Many of the most well-known proponents of the ketogenic (keto) diet are men. So this may leave many women wondering, does the keto diet work equally well for women too?
Overall, women tend to be more sensitive to the effects of various diets— whether we’re talking low-fat, high-protein, vegan, or keto.
So while the keto diet can offer women many health benefits, such as help with fat loss and reducing inflammation, it typically needs to be done with a bit more thought in mind.
The ketogenic (keto) diet is an eating plan that revolves around high-fat intake and low-carb consumption.
When people consume very few carbohydrates (including sugar and carbs from “whole foods” like fruits and grains) and lots of fat, the body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis and starts producing ketones.
Ketones are small fuel molecules that are produced in the liver. They act as an energy supply for the body when there isn’t enough glucose from carbs circulating around.
When the body uses ketones for energy, fat and weight loss are often the result. Being in ketosis also helps to lower blood sugar levels and can have a positive impact on high insulin levels, which helps to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Additional perks of the keto diet include helping improve energy levels, mental focus, physical endurance, and healthy cholesterol levels while reducing hunger and cravings.
What Is The Keto Diet? A Doctor Breaks Down Everything You Need To Know: Read more.
Any time a woman makes a drastic change to her diet, she should be on the lookout for certain side effects, such as fatigue, digestive issues and menstrual irregularities.
While being in ketosis can overall have any positive effects on a woman’s health, the diet does have the potential to interrupt hormonal balance in some women, especially if she’s not consuming enough calories and is overexerting herself, such as via intense exercise, lack of sleep and stress.
All of these factors can influence how a woman’s hypothalamic-adrenal-pituitary axis (HPA axis) works, which are glands that control the release of hormones like cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. These glands respond to under-eating and high amounts of stress. Sometimes a woman’s thyroid can be impacted by extreme diets too, which leads to a slowing down of her metabolism.
Women on the keto diet can also face many of the same issues as men on the diet, for example, low energy, dehydration, and issues like constipation and brain fog.
These “keto flu” symptoms, as they’ve been nicknamed, are most common during the first couple weeks of the diet; they can usually be mitigated when you drink lots of water and consume a generally healthy keto diet that still provides you with fiber and electrolytes.
Keto Kickstart—Here Are 3 Full Days of Recipes: Read more.
Limit Carb Intake
The main premise of the keto diet is that you should consume about 70 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and around 5 percent carbohydrates. In other words, it is primarily an eating plan high in healthy fats, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates.
You’ll want to avoid foods that contain a high amount of carbohydrates and sugar. It's suggested to keep carb intake under 50 grams per day. The fewer carbohydrates consumed, the more effective the diet. Increasing your fiber intake is another way to reduce your “net carb” intake since fiber is not absorbable.
Focus on “Clean Eating ”
Focus on eating a “clean keto diet” that emphasizes whole foods and alkaline ingredients. Foods that should be included in the diet include plenty of healthy fats, several servings of green leafy vegetables per week plus other veggies, fish, meat, chicken, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds.
Avoid all sweets, added sugars, bread, rice, tortillas, potatoes, beans, desserts, and sugary drinks. You’ll also want to skip processed foods even if they are low in carbs, such as cold cuts, processed meats, and refined vegetable oils.
Since your carb intake will be very low, and carbs typically fuel tough workouts, incorporate lower intensity workout sessions as opposed to high-intensity ones.
Keto is great for exercises such as long walks, Zumba, yoga, pilates, or light strength training. The struggle starts to happen with higher intensity training. This can include High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), CrossFit-style workouts, heavyweight training, or running at higher speeds for long durations.
Working Out on the Keto Diet: Read more.
Monitor Energy Levels
Eat enough to keep your energy up, including enough fat and calories in general. Chances are if you’re fatigued while on the keto diet, you may not be eating enough because of the satiating effect of consuming more fat. In addition, a significant amount of foods are off-limits which might make meals seem less appealing.
While following the keto diet, women (and men too) should consider taking several supplements that can help fill in gaps in their diets and reduce the risk for side effects like fatigue or indigestion. Here are some of the top keto supplements to consider:
These are ketones taken in supplement form that can help push you into ketosis. They can lift your energy, assist in mental performance and give you an edge when exercising.
MCT oil provides you with medium-chain fats that can help your body make ketones, enhance endurance and reduce your appetite.
MCT Oil—The Ultimate Keto Diet Staple: Read more.
Lower Carb Protein Powders
Protein powders can be a convenient meal replacement and are beneficial before or after exercise to stimulate muscle growth and maintenance of healthy joints.
A quality multivitamin provides you with extra nutrients and electrolytes that you may be lacking due to food restrictions.
Magnesium is a mineral that should be taken if muscle cramps develop during the diet or constipation.
Electrolytes should be taken before intense workouts. Look for one that is low in sugar and carbs.