Are you looking for a weight-loss program for women? One of your options is the keto diet for women. This is a low-carb diet, but it takes a different approach than others like Atkins. That’s because this is also a high-fat and moderate-protein diet. The fat is “good” fat instead of unhealthy ones like saturated and trans-fat. This diet puts your body in a state of ketosis, so you get energy from stored fat instead of food calories/carbs. Keto can be used by men or women. However, some studies seem to show that it’s less effective for women. It is based on different factors like hormones, menstrual cycle, and pregnancy/breastfeeding.
Does this mean women shouldn’t use the keto diet? It can still be an effective diet for weight loss and overall health. It’s all about making some tweaks to make it more female-friendly. You can take steps like slowly reduce carbs, use intermittent fasting (IF), and try to control PMS cravings. Making some basic tweaks can help to make keto more effective for losing weight and burning fat. Interestingly, some studies show that keto is less effective for women or simply doesn’t work for them. It’s all about making the right modifications.
Does Keto Work for Women?
The ketogenic diet isn’t designed for men or women per se. In theory, the process of lowering carbs and getting your energy from stored fats has nothing to do with gender. Interestingly, the ketosis diet was first used for men and women with diabetes.
However, some studies seem to suggest that keto is less effective for women than men. In fact, for a long time medical professionals and diet experts have noticed that keto has different effects based on gender.
A recent study shows that the female hormone estrogen has a big effect on women’s ability to lose weight using keto. It should be noted that it’s not 100% clear though how the ketogenic diet affects men and women differently.
Earlier this year the University of Iowa published the results of a study that showed that female mice on keto had a lower chance of losing weight than male mice. They were also more likely to have problems with controlling blood sugar.
In the experiments, the mice were put on a regular or keto diet. The keto diet included 75% fat, 8% protein, and 3% carbs. The regular diet was 7% fat, 19% protein, and 47% carbs.
What were the results? After 15 weeks on keto, the male mice had weight/fat loss while the female mice gained weight. The scientists think this was due to estrogen-blocking weight loss. However, after they removed the female mice’s ovaries, they were able to lose as much weight as the male rodents.
There was also another negative change the male mice experienced. They showed signs of liver damage and the organs even released a hormone that’s released when liver damage happens. This might suggest that keto is bad for the liver. However, other studies show that keto can boost liver health if done properly.
Factors that Affect Women on Keto
This is one o the main features of keto besides high fat so it’s one worth noting. When the body doesn’t get carbs, it goes into starvation mode. This causes the body to stop burning fat and slow down since it thinks there’s no food available.
This can cause problems if you’re on keto. For example, the stress hormone cortisol might slow down weight-loss or even result in weight gain.
A simple tweak is to up your carbs a little. This can help to prevent your hormones from holding onto fat and allowing the weight-loss process to happen. You’ll certainly need more carbs in certain situations. They include doing lots of gym workouts, having workout recovery issues, or weight loss has stopped completely.
2. Menstrual Cycle
PMS can affect women on the keto diet in many ways. They include issues related to:
- More weight/bloating
- Digestion problems
- Sweets cravings
As a result, it can be tougher for women to stay in ketosis all month. It’s significant for this diet since the goal is to stay in ketosis as much as possible.
The recent UI study showed that estrogen seemed to prevent weight-loss among female mice. Various factors can affect female hormones including menstrual cycles and lack of sleep. A keto-specific factor is low-carb, which is one of the diet’s features.
Keto seems to affect women’s hormones in different ways. They include lower/higher estrogen levels. Women might also experience more of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes less weight loss.
Besides low-carbs you might be having problems with keto because of the low calories. One result of keto is it helps to reduce appetite. This might cause you to skip meals because you’re not hungry.
What’ the problem? You’ll want to experience a “caloric deficit.” However, your body also needs enough calories to work effectively.
Tips for Keto for Women
1. Use intermittent fasting (IF)
This has proven to be one of the most effective methods for weight loss. It doesn’t reduce how much food you eat but instead when you eat. Studies show the best results for weight-loss are doing an 18/6 or 20/4 fasting/eating cycle. You could also do a 16/8 version, which gives you an 8-hour eating window.
This process gives your body a break from digesting food. It results in the body working more effectively because your body can repair itself and balance hormones. Afterward, the body then uses stored fat for energy, so you burn more calories than you take in.
This process can provide various benefits when you’re on keto. For example, you can get into ketosis faster. This allows you to shed weight faster. IF is also effective for burning fat while keeping muscle.
Besides fasting every day, you can also fast every-other-day. If it seems tough to fast for 24 hours, you can drop calories to 500 calories on fasting days.
2. Deal with PMS cravings effectively
When you have PMS food cravings, it’s important to deal with it effectively. For example, you might be craving carbs and junk food like candy bars. The good news the keto diet provides many good options when you have the munchies, including keto:
- Peanut Butter Bites
- Chia pudding
- Ice cream
- Chocolate bars
There are also various keto-friendly salty snacks you can try.
3. Reduce carbs slowly
It’s natural for women to need more time to cut carbs on the keto diet. One way to do that is by tracking everyday food intake. It will help you to track your macros, including carbs. The good news is this process can be gradual. You can take time to get under 25g of daily carbs when on the keto diet for women.