Watching the inspiring 'bro channels' on YouTube may have you interested in trying a ketogenic diet, to lose weight or build lean muscle, but women's bodies and needs vary from male's in different ways.
Given our varied needs, we at Konscious Keto wondered whether the keto diet is safe and conducive to the promotion of women's health.
Fortunately we found out, that many women thrive on a ketogenic diet—even long-term! You will want to follow a few best practices for optimal results though, and we'll share more on that below.
Our hormone systems are responsible for everything from energy regulation to our body's willingness to release excess body fat, and ketosis aids in the maintenance of optimal hormone function—a definite benefit of the century-old diet.
Also, a standard ketogenic diet is shown to help with endocrine health in many ways. Here are some of the hormonal benefits related to living in a ketotic state:
- A ketogenic diet is shown to offer a therapeutic effect to those with insulin sensitivity, type 2 diabetes or battling the bulge issues.
- Ketosis is an excellent tool to regulate our metabolic and other hormonal systems, and doing so, in addition to maintaining healthy levels of glucose in the body, all add up to a body primed for optimal function, and accelerated weight loss!
- Also, with ketosis as a primary contributor to the regulation of metabolic hormones (e.g., insulin, glucagon, cortisol, catecholamines, and growth hormone, et al.), a ketogenic diet is an excellent tool to help maintain an ideal weight while enjoying delicious foods and discovering new favorite fare to add to your burgeoning low-carb, high-fat dietary program.
Pro - Weight Loss
A ketogenic diet advises the significant reduction of refined sugars and carbs and instead endorses an eating approach where fats dominate, followed in volume by the consumption of moderate amounts of protein.
When we ditch the carbs, we inadvertently deplete our body's glycogen stores, where it houses consumed carbs and sugar to release as energy when needed, and our body seeks out an alternative food source as a means of self-preservation.
A ketogenic diet operates in several ways to facilitate weight loss, and you'll be excited to hear how if dropping some 'lbs' is on your list of short-term goals, you're about to be in the know on how to do so quickly and with ease.
Once the body enters a state of metabolic ketosis, we naturally produce more significant amounts of ketone bodies, or endogenous ketones, that the body can use for fuel.
Increased endogenous ketones or that and the addition of an exogenous ketone supplement, like Keto Activate, can help to increase energy to facilitate better endurance and provide additional energy, to power through more prolonged and intense workouts.
Furthermore, a ketogenic diet's potential benefits related to caloric intake, body weight, lipid parameters, glycemic levels, and insulin sensitivity make it a viable therapeutic dietary option—particularly for those battling metabolic syndrome, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Pro - Clearer Skin
Eating sugar is known to agitate the body due to its primary related symptom of inflammation—an enemy to anyone looking to keep their skin radiant, glowing, and free from unsightly pimples or resulting blemishes.
Plus, hydration is already a significant key to success we suggest to anyone on a ketogenic diet. Yes, water is vital regardless of your preferred diet but especially so for those following keto and here's why.
The depletion of our glycogen stores that occurs in the absence of refined sugars and carbs causes the body to release more body fluid—often what's responsible for the significant drop on the scale, that many subscribers of the plan regularly report, after their first week of keeping it keto.
However, we also release electrolytes, vitamins and minerals along with the noted fluid, making frequent replenishment of hydration and nutrients paramount.
Go ahead, drink as much spring water as your heart desires and consider adding in a bit of bone broth to your plan to replenish electrolytes, vitamins and minerals, all while contributing to improved hydration—an easy way to support a healthy and radiant complexion.
Pro - Fertility
The foods we eat play a significant role in our health and also the state of our fertility. The body is intelligent and only wants to conceive in a healthy and thriving environment that increases the chances of a full-term pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby.
Some women who begin a ketogenic diet even note a return of their menstrual period; the reversal of a physiological disorder called amenorrhea where women experience a loss of getting their period for at least three consecutive months.
Those in the know point to the metabolic state of ketosis created in the body on a low-carb, high-fat diet for aiding in balancing the body and returning a regular menstrual cycle.
Furthermore, the powerful benefits of living in a ketotic state concerning body weight, hormones, and body weight management are quite significant and make the protocol even more promising.
Besides, the ability of an LCHF-style diet to contribute to the loss of excess body weight has been found to aid in returning to a regular menstruation cycle.
Just imagine, packing your plate with omega-3-rich fish and low-glycemic dark leafy greens, drizzled in a quality cold-pressed olive oil. A tasty and highly-effective way to keep it keto while fostering fertility, health thanks to its dense nutrients, so enjoy!
Pro - Reduce PCOS Symptoms
This endocrinologic and reproductive disorder, with many associated adverse symptoms, including difficulty in losing excess body fat, is one that affects women at a significant rate—with the disease found in approximately 6-10% of the U.S. female population.
The holistic balancing caused by ketosis is beneficial in many ways, and this is true with helping to mitigate the symptoms of PCOS. The inherent recalibration of the hormones created by ketosis directly helps to improve hormone-related disorders like PCOS.
Carrying excess weight, hormonal imbalances, irregularities, and many other factors can directly impact the body's ability to release fat even if you're eating clean, so keeping hormones in check on a weight-loss journey is a must.
Furthermore, eating healthy fats and proteins aid in regulating glucose and stabilizing body weight and hormonal equilibrium, which all combine to improve chances of conceiving, once we remove refined carbs and sugars from our diet.
Con - Giving Up Sugar
We know, sweet treats have been by your side during brutal breakups and have acted as the cap on meals at most celebrations, for as long as you can recall, but we've got to be honest, sugar's just not that into you—a bad romance not worth your time.
There are so many fantastic, sugar-free, keto-friendly alternatives available that won't spike your blood sugar, that there's no need to compromise ketosis just to tantalize your sweet tooth.
Rest easy, options like stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol-based sugar alternatives like Swerve are all commonly found at local health stores and supermarkets and can be purchased online to ease your transition away from sugar.
For a more in-depth dive into the best keto-friendly sweeteners, check out our comprehensive guide on our sweetest picks, how they differ, and the best ways to use them, here.
Letting go of sugar is often what strikes fear in the hearts of those curious about the lifestyle, and its benefits, leaving them stuck on the fence in paralysis analysis—yet summer is coming!
But don't fret, the many sugar-free options available on the market will make releasing your death grip on sugar a breeze. Continually eating enough calories through an ideal range of whole foods, will also keep you satiated and your hormonal systems in check, on a ketogenic diet.
How to Fix It:
Weening off sugar can be challenging, especially if coming from a diet filled with highly-processed foods, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners, and it can take some courage to go cold-turkey from all dietary crutches, and remain sane.
However, following a couple of guidelines can help you shift into ketosis without missing out on some of your favorite foods and beverages. Here are some tips to help you embark upon the sugar-free life, while avoiding some commonly-made mistakes.
First, source sugar alternatives before getting started on keto to make sure your morning coffee and low-carb baked goods are as delicious as their high-carb contemporaries.
Second, remove all artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup from the menu as both can contribute to adverse health effects, and may even stall weight-loss efforts.
Third, make sure you have plenty of pantry staples, snacks and a few key recipes primed, before you make the move. Check out some ideas for keto snacks here.
Focus on flexible carb macro limits to support hormone health.
Again, women's needs are unique and fasting can be a great tool, but for extremely long periods can pose a risk to hormonal well-being, especially for women.
Eat your fat and protein macros, and make an effort not to revert to a starvation mindset focused on a restrictive caloric model. Keto is genuinely a sustainable lifestyle once you construct realistic parameters that suit your needs.
Con - Cooking Keto Meals
If you're a novice in the kitchen and are embarking on the ketogenic lifestyle, the process of meal prep may initially feel daunting, but have no fear! There are some incredible tips to help you begin a low-carb, high-fat diet without complicated recipes.
Try meal prep.
Whether you prefer traditional portioned meal prep or making main and side dishes ahead of time and then mixing and matching throughout the week, having keto-friendly meals on-hand will go a long way to keep you on track.
Focus on including dark leafy greens, low-glycemic vegetables, and low-sugar fruits, like avocado, olives and blueberries, to round out your micronutrient intake and ensure you're getting adequate vitamins and minerals, along with protein and fats.
Keep it simple and sustainable.
The fastest way to fail on a new diet is to make things complicated; before long you'll find yourself returning to old habits if the demands of a diet are misaligned with your lifestyle and level of commitment or personal bandwidth to prep food.
Con - Keto Hair Loss
Rapid weight loss on any diet causes a degree of stress to the body, and this may lead to hormonal imbalances and, you guessed it, hair loss. Fortunately, those who experience hair loss when pursuing fat-adaptation find it subsides relatively soon after its onset, and can be mitigated with some behavioral modifications.
How to Fix It:
The loss of excessive hair strands is a matter of much concern to anyone considering a ketogenic diet as we want to look and feel good as we transform our bodies on keto. But as we mentioned, there are some tried-and-true best practices to follow to prevent or mitigate hair loss on a ketogenic diet.
Which low-glycemic foods we choose, staying hydrated, and remaining active, mind and body, all contribute to an optimal experience on a ketogenic diet. There are some additional nutritional and behavioral modifications that may help you safeguard against an enhanced state of hair loss when starting the LCHF-diet.
Check out our in-depth post regarding women's hair loss and the ketogenic diet for tips to keep your mane thick as you increase ketones and shed excess fat, here.
Keto Women's Health Benefits Outweigh the Cons
A willingness to plan and the openness to create a mindset shift around your relationship with food, particularly the intake of sugar and carbs, will weigh heavily in your favor as you transition to living the sugar-free life.
While some symptoms may pose an initial barrier to beginning a low-carb, high-fat diet—it may feel daunting—we want to encourage you that learning to live a healthful keto lifestyle is entirely within reach.
Ladies, take some time to consider implementing the tips we've shared to offset the commonly-experienced side effects of transitioning into ketosis; the benefits on the other side of the struggle are all well worth the effort.
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- Ketogenic Diet and Metabolic Therapies. (2016). Oxford Medicine Online. doi:10.1093/med/9780190497996.001.0001
- Kudesia, R., & Neal-Perry, G. (2014). Menopausal Implications of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine, 32(03), 222-229. doi:10.1055/s-0034-1371094
- Sutherling, J. E., & Mele-Hayes, D. (2004). How to Maintain and Support a Ketogenic Diet Program. Epilepsy and the Ketogenic Diet, 83-94. doi:10.1007/978-1-59259-808-3_5