How to Make Keto Work for Women
As a woman, navigating through the vast world of different diets and ways of eating can be daunting. Media has made it even more difficult with headlines such as “Lose 20 lbs in one week with this special fat burning food!” and “Go vegan to lose those pesky last 10 pounds!”.
Most of these messages are targeted at quick-fix weight loss trends that are not only unsustainable, but can also wreak havoc on the ever-so-sensitive female endocrine system.
Additionally, these messages can also do a lot of harm mentally, crushing self-esteem and causing women to put all of their worth in a number on the scale.
At Paleo f(x)™it is our mission to educate people on how to look and feel their best through healthy eating and lifestyle factors. When it comes to women, changing the narrative to focus on health, strength, and vitality — as opposed to a number on the scale — is essential.
How Keto supports weight loss in women
The ketogenic diet has been studied in the medical literature and used therapeutically for epileptic patients illustrating its effects on the brain to help reduce seizures. Recently, this way of eating has become more popular and studied in different indications to see if there are other potential benefits.
One study enrolled 21 strength trained female participants and randomized them into a ketogenic diet (KD) group or a non ketogenic diet (NKD) group for 8 weeks. The KD group macronutrient distribution was ~10% carbohydrates, ~65% fat and ~26% protein. The NKD group consumed a diet of ~57% carbohydrates, ~23% fat and ~20% protein.
The KD group showed signs of satiety and ended up consuming a lower energy intake than prescribed leading to a slight energy deficit. The KD group lost significant fat mass (P=0.042) while maintaining fat free mass.
This is one of many studies that shows the potential appetite suppressing effects of a ketogenic diet and the fat- free mass maintenance (muscle mass). This is especially important for women because nutrient intake and satiety when trying to reduce fat mass is ideal. Maintaining muscle mass, especially as we age is also imperative, particularly for women, to decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
Benefits of Keto when going through menopause
As women age and go through menopause, insulin sensitivity decreases and fat is more easily stored. This has to do with the drastic drop in sex hormones but also is just a side effect of aging. Increased fasting insulin comes with a host of issues such as increased diabetes risk, increased obesity and even cancer risk.
Adopting a ketogenic diet can increase insulin sensitivity, lower fasting insulin, and improve other health markers. Another potential benefit of adopting this style of eating is enhanced cognition and neuroprotective effects. One 2019 review discusses the different mechanisms that have shown a ketogenic diet promoting neuroprotective activity.
Can women over 40 succeed on a traditional keto diet?
Paleo f(x)™ cofounder Keith Norris sat down with Dr. Anna Cabeca (aka “the girlfriend doctor”) to discuss how she uses her version of the ketogenic diet called Keto Green 16, to help many women of all ages gain control over their hormones and feel better.
In the interview, Dr. Cabeca discusses that for women over 40, the traditional approach to the ketogenic diet can be too acidic and lack in nutrient dense vegetables. Using her “Keto-Green” adaptation by adding more green vegetables into your diet, such as broccoli and other crucifers, helps not only with alkalinity but also with estrogen detoxification (a pertinent process to keep female hormones in balance).
There are many approaches one can take to embark on a ketogenic lifestyle. It may take some trial and error or working with a practitioner to find out exactly what works for you and your physiology.
Check out our brand new Keto f(x)™ membership to get access to more resources on a well formulated ketogenic diet.
Author: Rachel Namery, MS
Rusek M, Pluta R, Ułamek-Kozioł M, Czuczwar SJ. Ketogenic Diet in Alzheimer’s Disease.Int J Mol Sci 2019;20(16):3892. Published 2019 Aug 9. doi:10.3390/ijms20163892: https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/16/3892
Vargas-Molina, S., Petro, J.L., Romance, R. et al. Effects of a ketogenic diet on body composition and strength in trained women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 17, 19 (2020): https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-020-00348-7