The benefits of a Ketogenic Diet for Women
As many of my clients will know, I am a strong proponent of a ketogenic dietary approach.
Why?... because of very positive personal experiences and sound science to back it up as a very healthy way to eat!
For those who may not be familiar with 'going keto,' it is all about training your body to be less reliant on sugar and starches and instead burning fat and ketones for energy.
Sounds strange, well not really. In ancestral times when food was scarce, and carbohydrates were less abundant, our bodies used this system to keep us fit and healthy.
Not only does keto make weight management very easy, but there are other significant health benefits.
Keto offers women some specific health benefits. Women's hormones, for example, fluctuate to a greater degree than men's, due to menstruation, menopause, and other conditions. Ketones are produced by the liver when the body enters a state of ketosis, partly triggered by reducing carbohydrates in the diet. Ketones carry clean energy to the brain, muscles and organs. But they also have another purpose. Ketones act as signalling molecules, which help regulate and optimise hormone production. This hormonal regulation may explain why so many women report decreased PMS symptoms and more regular periods after starting keto.
Keto also helps women who suffer from a condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. PCOS occurs when the body produces too much luteinising hormone, which helps regulates ovulation and the production of oestrogen. The symptoms of PCOS can include weight gain, excessive hair loss, irregular periods, and infertility. A 2005 Duke University study placed women with PCOS on a keto diet for 24 weeks, after which participants' luteinising hormone had decreased by an average of 36 percent.1
Keto can be an excellent option for women who are trying for a baby. When followed correctly and safely, a ketogenic diet may boost fertility.2,3 Successful conception requires optimal sex hormone function, which in turn needs saturated fats to function correctly. Given a ketogenic diet emphasises the intake of good healthy sources of saturated fats, this dietary approach can be beneficial when trying to conceive.
By Lorraine Carroll
1. Mavropoulos JC, Yancy WS, Hepburn J, Westman EC. The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study. Nutrition & metabolism. 2005 Dec;2(1):35.
2. Kulak D, Polotsky AJ. Should the ketogenic diet be considered for enhancing fertility?. Maturitas. 2013 Jan 1;74(1):10-3.
3. McGrice M, Porter J. The effect of low carbohydrate diets on fertility hormones and outcomes in overweight and obese women: A systematic review. Nutrients. 2017;9(3):204.