A quick guide on keto for women
Keto for women might not work as well as it works for men. Want to know why? And how to make it work for you? This article will guide you to everything you need to know about the keto diet for women.
Keto diet and women
There is no chance you might not have heard about the keto diet. Suppose you are trying to lose weight; the word keto might have come across your mind, as it has made quite a buzz in health circles. It has been highly studied, and research is still going on.
Simply put, the keto diet is all about eating more fats and minimizing the intake of carbohydrates, and bringing your body into a state called ketosis.
Once your body attains ketosis, it burns fat more efficiently, and in turn, you lose weight. Even though it is a popular weight loss diet, there are several discussions on whether keto works similarly for men.
Research shows that men get more benefits than women from keto diets. Thus, women may have to work a little bit harder than men to achieve the full benefits of the keto diet.
What is a keto diet?
Keto is short for a ketogenic diet, a low carb, high-fat diet plan. In the beginning, it was used to treat patients who suffered from epilepsy and seizures. But now, it is an effective weight loss plan. When you follow a keto diet, you are advised to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet and take fewer amounts of carbohydrates.
There are different types of keto diets. They are the standard keto diet, cyclic keto diet, targeted keto diet, and high protein keto diet.
Each of these differs in its balance of carbs, fats, and proteins. The standard keto diet is the most highly researched and used. The regular keto diet consists of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates.
How does a keto diet work?
It is normal to be confused about how a weight loss diet works by taking high fats. Yes, it works by consuming more fats than less protein and carbs. The ultimate goal of the keto diet is to reach your body into a state called ketosis.
Typically our body obtains energy from the carbs in the food we eat. As keto is a low-carb diet, your body loses the primary energy source when you follow it. Since your body has run out of primary energy sources, it depends on the fats stored in your cells. Your body begins to break down the fat and makes a chemical compound called ketones to obtain power.
Ketones are chemicals produced in your liver when there is a lack of glucose in your system. In such a situation, your body uses the stored fat in your cells and breaks them down. This process of breaking down fats to make ketones is called ketosis.
In this state, your body metabolizes more fats and loses weight. This is how exactly a keto diet works. Also, the process of ketosis burns fat more faster. And also helps to make you less hungry.
Keto for women: why?
There are many reasons why keto works differently for women and men, especially if you are a mid-age woman.
For Instance, after fifty, you might notice that even though your eating habits or exercises have not changed, you are gaining more weight, or you fail to lose weight faster.
Yes, you might suffer from obesity even if you eat right, exercise, or do not practice unhealthy lifestyle habits. This is a common issue women face in the middle ages.
As you age, several changes take place inside your body. These changes are responsible for making it hard to lose weight. Thus, to prevent obesity, you should know its reasons and treat those reasons. The following are the most common causes of weight gain in women.
Menopause is when you stop experiencing your menstrual cycles. Most women reach menopause between the age of 45-50. This brings drastic changes in your physical as well as mental health. The hormonal changes in your body are one of them. This change in your hormone levels is one of the driving forces of obesity in women. During menopause, the estrogen level becomes significantly lower.
Low estrogen levels affect the pattern of fat collection in your body. The body fat would be mainly collected around your hips and thigh when you are young. During menopause, it gets collected around your abdomen and increases your belly fat. This abdomen fat or belly fat is considered the most unhealthy type of body fat.
Metabolism is the act of converting what you eat into energy. This is done by burning the calories in the food you eat. So, effective metabolism means you burn more calories, and burning more calories means you lose more weight. In short, effective metabolism is the key to effective weight loss.
As you age, the process of metabolism begins to slow down. With a slower metabolism, your body burns fewer calories, making it hard to lose weight even if you eat less or do enough physical activities.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is one of the main issues most women face. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that causes your ovaries to enlarge. Women with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance, inflammation, making weight loss a struggle. Most women with PCOS are obese or likely to be obese.
After a certain age, women start to experience a decline in their muscle mass, and as you get older, you lose more lean muscle mass while fat increases. Subsequently, this muscle degeneration leads to slow metabolism, gaining weight, and more complex weight loss.
Obesity in women can lead to other serious illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension. Also, it increases the risk of endometrial cancer, post-menopausal cancer.
A Keto diet can be a game-changer for women posed to obesity because of all these. However, as mentioned earlier, certain things make it hard for women to follow keto and lose weight.
Keto for women v/s men
The effects of keto on men and women are different. Recent studies state that the biological differences between men and women might make it difficult to follow the keto plan perfectly. Some of the main reasons for this are:
The female sex hormones:
One of the main things men do not need to worry about while following a keto diet is hormonal levels. The female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone are not just sex hormones. They play a crucial role in the functioning of the female body. These hormones are connected with everything inside a woman’s body. So, anything that causes a hormonal imbalance, the entire body will react against it.
The female hormones are more sensitive than male hormones. They tend to fluctuate for several reasons, such as period cycles, sleep, diet, mental health. A sudden change in the keto diet can cause a severe hormonal imbalance in your body.
Also, as the keto diet is a high-fat diet, all the fat intake can cause utter chaos in your hormonal balance. You might experience low estrogen levels. This can adversely affect your energy levels, sex drives, mental health and also aids in unhealthy weight gain.
Another hormonal issue is the imbalance of cortisol. Cortisol gets seriously imbalanced when your body has less glucose. Known as the stress hormone, if cortisol levels are gone wrong, it means your day is ruined because it causes high stress, anxiety, mood swings, and sleep deprivation. Thus following a keto diet without much preparation can lead to severe hormonal imbalances.
Your periods also make it harder to follow a keto diet more efficiently. One of the main reasons for this is that eating is essential when menstruating.
Because when you are on a period, you experience many issues such as cramps, bloating back pain, headache, and gas issues. A sudden change in your diet may worsen these issues.
Apart from this, you will find it hard to follow a strict keto diet with all such illnesses and mood swings in a period. The food cravings during your periods also make you cheat on your diet because most women have a passion for sugary foods and snacks with high carbs while they are on their period.
Low carb diet might not suit women:
The central part of the keto lifestyle is to limit your carb intake. However, a low-carb diet is not highly recommended for women. Cutting down carbohydrates suddenly might not harm men, but it is not ok for women. Because the female body is susceptible to changes in daily diet.
When you suddenly go low carb, your body may get a wrong signal that there is a shortage of carbs and needs to store the remaining carbs. And your body burns calories very slowly to cope with the the sudden lack of carbs. As the burning of calories slows down, the weight loss also slows down.
How to plan your keto diet
As keto for women works differently from men. You need a correctly planned ketogenic diet. Follow these steps to get maximum health benefits from it.
1. Do not rush:
The first and foremost thing when you aim for weight loss through a keto diet should be you should not start it too suddenly. Switching to a low-carb diet abruptly can lead to several problems, including hormonal imbalances in women.
When you start a ketogenic diet, you might be flooded with information because it is trendy. Do not be overwhelmed or excited with all this information and create a keto diet suddenly, and don’t set unrealistic weight-loss goals that give you opposite results. This is one of the main reasons why keto for women might give different results so, consult with your doctor before you start it.
2. Consult with your doctor/Nutritionist:
Your doctor will direct you in planning the correct type of keto diet for you according to your health conditions. For Instance, people with lactose intolerance should follow their doctor’s advice on replacing the dairy products on a keto diet.
3. Know what to eat and what not to eat:
To achieve your weight loss goals, you must know what foods you should eliminate, what to eat in moderation, and what to eat more.
The first thing you need to eliminate from your keto meals is sugar. You might be thinking that you do not have too much sugar, but there is a chance that you might be taking more sugar unknowingly. This is because sugar is hidden in almost everything nowadays. You need to read the ingredients list when you go grocery shopping to ensure no added sugar.
Also, stay away from tea and coffee with high amounts of sugar. Also, eliminate non-starchy carbs and eat fewer calories to lose weight more effectively.
4. Keto-friendly ingredients:
if you are new to the keto diet, you might find leaving some of your favorite foods difficult. Try replacing them with keto-friendly ingredients. For Instance, instead of sugar and other artificial sweeteners, try keto-friendly sweeteners such as stevia, yacon syrup, erythritol, xylitol, monk fruit sweetener.
5. Start your diet by balancing enough carbs:
Cutting carbs altogether leads to slow ketosis and a stall in weight loss. Do not cut them suddenly. Balance your plate with enough but a low amount of carbs.
Following these steps, you can start your keto diet, take enough carbs and calories and high amounts of fat along with enough physical activity for the first 3-4 weeks to attain ketosis. Once your body is fat-adapted, you can gradually reduce the number of carbs by about 10%.
Ketogenic diet: how to make it work for women
Losing weight through a keto can be challenging for women when many biological reasons hinder them. Follow these tips to tackle this issue.
1. Pair it with intermittent fasting
If you feel that you are not getting enough health benefits from a keto diet even though you follow a strict keto. Try pairing it with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is every day for 16-24 hours.
In intermittent fasting, you can switch between fasting and eating. Combining keto and intermittent fasting can help you to attain ketosis fast. However, combining these two without medical advice can be seriously dangerous.
2. Adequate sleep
Most women might experience poor quality of sleep and fewer hours of sleep due to menopause or lifestyle habits. A low amount of sleep can slow ketosis and stall down weight loss. So, get quality sleep for better weight loss results.
3. Balance your keto meals
It is a fact that keto is a low carb and low-calorie diet but, it is not about cutting down too many carbs or calories. Cutting down too many carbs can lead to several issues in women, such as hormonal imbalances. You need to balance your plate with a low amount of carbs and calories along with high amounts of fat.
You do not need to eliminate carbs. You only need to eradicate low-quality carbs such as sugar, processed foods, and starch. Also, do not avoid protein intake as it helps to reduce muscle degeneration and boosts metabolism.
4. Quit alcohol
When you follow a keto diet, you must stop drinking or reduce drinking. Alcohol is the primary source of extra calories, making it an enemy of weight loss. When you drink too much, your body metabolizes alcohol instead of other substances. Thus alcohol consumption slows down the process of burning fat, so either quit that habit or occasionally drink in very moderate amounts.
5. Avoid overeating fat
Keto is a high-fat diet plan. You get to eat fats more than carbs. But, there is a chance that you might go overboard with it. Overconsumption of fats only leads to weight gain. Also, you should prefer unsaturated and healthy fats over saturated fat.
What to eat and not to eat on a keto
Foods to eat:
- Non Starchy vegetables
- Healthy fatty oils such as coconut oil, olive oil.
- meats such as chicken, Beef, Pork, and Turkey
- Fatty seafood such as tuna, salmon, and cod
- Shellfish such as lobster, mussels, and crab.
- Dairy products such as milk, ghee, cream, various cheese, and butter, especially grass-fed butter.
Foods not to eat
- Sugar, both natural and added
- Processed foods
- Rice and other grains
- Peas and beans
- Cereal products
Women are more prone to obesity than men because of several problems such as PCOS and menopause. Keto is a promising solution to this, but what would you do when you cannot achieve the full health benefits from a keto diet. Some people always drop a keto diet because they complain that it does nothing to them.
Most of them are women. Sometimes, keto for women might give lesser results than to men. But it is not impossible. You might need to work a little hard to make it work for you, but it will be worth it.
Content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. Reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.