Hormones such as estrogen, cortisol, ghrelin, and leptin all affect metabolic function—either aiding in or hindering weight loss. And since hormonal function gets a bit haywire during menopause, weight gain may occur, or you may find it harder to lose weight.
The importance of our hormones, and their impact on our body, is highlighted for many women during menopause. Hot flashes, insomnia, and excessive night sweats may plague your life for a period as your hormones attempt to adjust to a new normal.
During the transition to a postmenstrual phase of life, many hormonal systems are likely to cause discomfort and impact a woman's everyday quality of life.
Even if you eat the same as you have for years and maintain your usual level of physical activity, you still may find it increasingly challenging to release body fat. But before you get too upset please keep in mind that It's not just you.
Many women find it increasingly difficult to achieve the same weight-loss results as they have in the past as they exit their child-bearing years.
When to Modify Your Keto Diet
A ketogenic diet holds to a singular guiding principle of reducing carbs low enough to achieve and maintain ketosis and eating an abundance of healthy fat, along with moderate amounts of protein.
However, there are many reasons to alter your ketogenic diet, from an increase in physical activity, finding out you're expecting or entering menopause.
Once you understand the basics of the ketogenic diet, you can make incremental tweaks to find your ideal take on the eating approach.
We recommend that women take a unique approach to keto to maximize results and avoid some unpleasant effects often associated with starting the low-carb, high-fat diet (e.g., keto flu, keto rash, etc.).
Also, a woman experiencing menopause requires a unique emphasis on nutrition to support her changing needs. Here are some foods to eat freely during menopause:
Along with changes in metabolism, women may also experience a loss of bone density during menopause, which, along with a decline in estrogen levels, can lead to fractures as we age.
However, a diet rich in quality dairy products helps keep our bones healthy. Also, dairy is rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins D and K, which are all vital to bone health.
Eating an abundance of fat is a hallmark of the ketogenic diet, and doing so becomes even more important for women during menopause.
Mainly, foods abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, can lessen the side effects of menopause, like an improvement in sleep quality, less experiencing intense hot flashes and reduced severity of night sweats.
Fruits and Vegetables:
It's crucial to consume low-glycemic fruits and veggies, like blueberries or dark leafy greens, on a keto diet, because they are abundant in needed vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
Also, it's worth noting that a 12-month study that observed more than 17,000 menopausal women showed that those who consumed more fruits and veggies had a 19% fewer hot flashes than the control group.
Plus, cruciferous vegetables are essential during postmenopause and can decrease estrogen levels linked to breast cancer.
Although it's crucial to monitor your estrogen levels during menopause, as we mentioned, certain foods containing phytoestrogens—compounds in food with a weaker form of estrogen—can prove helpful.
Stick to lower carb options like flaxseeds and berries to boost nutrition while keeping carbs in check, and keeping common menopause-related symptoms at bay.
Eating lots of healthy fat is ideal on keto, but it is increasingly essential to eat high-quality protein during menopause.
A decrease in certain forms of estrogen is associated with a loss in muscle mass and eating quality protein aids in muscle recovery, development, and maintenance—so eat up.
Also, women over 50 should eat 0.45–0.55 grams of protein per pound (1–1.2 grams per kg) of body weight daily — or 20–25 grams of high-quality protein per meal to keep muscles healthy.
In addition to including the noted foods into the diet after 50, it's also vital to avoid certain foods that lead to inflammation.
Here are some foods to eliminate from your keto diet during menopause and beyond:
- Highly-processed food
- Alcohol and caffeine (although some women can handle caffeine after 50, others cannot)
- Spicy foods
- High-salt foods
The foods and beverages to avoid can contribute to more intense hot flashes and sleep issues, which are already known side effects of menopause.
If you're noticing more intense side effects during this life transition, eliminate all items noted above and then reintroduce them one by one to see which may no longer agree with you.
Weight Loss Stalls
As we mentioned, changes in hormones during menopause can significantly affect our ability to lose or maintain our body weight.
Plus, estrogen is a vital multi-faceted hormone for many reasons. In addition to contributing to the ability to lose weight, it is also responsible for regulating a woman's sex drive, menstrual cycle, cholesterol levels, and helps support bone health.
But keep the faith: although it may be more challenging to lose weight during and postmenopause, here are some tips to help you mitigate some common roadblocks:
- Increase physical activity
- Eat nutrient-rich foods
- Make sleep a priority
- Consider alternative therapies (e.g., herbal treatments, meditation, hormone-replacement therapy, etc.)
- Focus on quality, whole-food based, nutrition
- Track your macros to monitor your progress
- Control portion sizes
- Meal prep to stay on track
- Get support from like-minded people
Weight Loss is Slow
While the rate and ease of weight loss may be slower for women in and postmenopause, it's still possible.
And, knowing that speeds of fat loss may be slower before you start the diet may temper your expectations, so you remain encouraged and maintain realistic goal points throughout the process of losing weight.
Consider following some of the best practices noted above to improve your chances of success at the best rate your body can handle.
Remember, keto is a lifestyle and not just a quick fix crash diet—it's a long game, so be consistent and patient, and you will see results.
Weight Loss is Not Happening
Again, we know it can feel frustrating to play by the rules and still see the scale at a standstill. Hang in there and focus on your goals and less on how fast you get there; be persistent, and you will eventually reach your desired weight.
Find a physical activity, like taking a brisk walk with a friend a few times a week, indulge in sound rest each night, and focus on eating high-quality, low-carb, high-fat foods, and your body will respond well over time.
Besides, a ketogenic diet is excellent for regulating hormones, increasing energy, and enhancing mental sharpness—all things that can help combat the common side effects of menopause.
How to Do Keto After Menopause
Fortunately, a ketogenic diet is an excellent dietary option for women experiencing menopause.
From supporting brain function, which some report becoming cloudy at times during 'the change', to aiding in boosting energy, appetite suppression, as well as increasing energy—keto can combat many side effects of menopause.
However, keep in mind that although keto offers many health benefits, it's still vital to be mindful of a few points if your goal is weight loss after 50.
Here are some key points to remember when seeking to achieve weight loss while going through menopause.
Don’t Eat Too Much Fat
As we've shared, eating high-quality fat as your primary portion of caloric intake is advised. However, a slowing metabolism due to menopause and its associated hormonal changes can require reducing fat macros to achieve weight loss.
Also, you can use helpful free online calculators, like the one provided by MyFitnessPal, to get an idea of how many calories to eat to achieve the weight loss you desire.
Then once you have a baseline, you can adjust your macros to reduce fat intake if you notice a weight-loss plateau or weight gain.
Eat a Variety of Plants
Dark leafy greens, asparagus, spinach, and kale are fantastic foods to include in your keto diet.
Whether you choose to approach a keto diet from an animal-based or plant-based approach, or a hybrid in between, it's essential to add lots of veggies to your diet to ensure your nutritional profile is well-rounded.
Luckily, there are many keto-friendly, plant-based foods to enjoy on keto.
Here's a shortlist of some of our favorite options:
- Swiss Chard
- Collard Greens
- Green Beans
- Brussels Sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Butter Lettuce
- Scallions and Onions
Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods are a bad idea on any diet, and that is true when following a keto diet, as well. Fillers, trans fats, and other questionable ingredients and preservatives found in many processed foods, even if void of refined sugars and a lot of carbs, can still hamper weight loss, so beware.
Eating organic, whole foods as the bulk of your meal plan is the best option. Also, if you're feeling a bit unsure about what to eat as you start keto, you can take our brief quiz and access a customized keto weight-loss plan to help you get started.
Reduce or Eliminate Sugar Alcohols
Many foods, mainly processed foods, also known as polyols, contain sugar alcohols like maltitol. While maltitol is low in carbs, it is also known to cause digestive issues, not the best choice of keto sweetener alternatives.
Instead, stick with sugar alcohols like xylitol, stevia, and erythritol, or something monk-fruit based, to avoid the digestive issues that most face when consuming certain sugar alcohols in large amounts.
Letting go of sugar can be a challenge when people start a ketogenic diet and eliminating it may be especially hard for people with a major sweet tooth.
Finding alternative sweeteners to sugar is something we're asked about so often that we have dedicated an article to the topic. No worries, there are so many options that mimic sugar in recipes that you won't miss a thing on keto.
Don’t Eat Zero Carbs
Eliminating carbs may work well to drop some extra pounds when in our 20s, 30s, and 40s, and likely free of hormonal challenges, but eating some more carbs after an absence of your menses for at least 12 consecutive months (a.k.a., menopause) is advised.
But please understand, we're not suggesting to binge on french fries or chips to elevate carbs. Concentrate on getting your low-glycemic carb macros from whole foods.
Setting Yourself up for Success
Everything we've shared in this article will help to set you up for success as you embark on your keto journey.
Embrace this new period of your life, hot flashes, and all, and use some of the valuable tips mentioned above to release the intensity of common side effects associated with this life transition.
Although menopause can pose challenges, as is the case with most change, there are steps to take to make the shift into the post-baby phase of your life more manageable.
The tips we've shared have helped many of our Konscious Keto members lose weight at any stage of life, and we love nothing more than witnessing keto enthusiasts meet their health goals.
Again, following the tips shared above are an excellent way to achieve weight-loss success on keto after 50.
Still, a customized meal plan can accelerate progress without any significant thought on your part. In essence, we've done all the work.
If you're ready to embark on your keto journey but need some support regarding which meals to make to facilitate weight loss, take our brief quiz to access a personalized meal plan to get you started on keto, with confidence, today.
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