Before starting on the keto diet, many women may wonder if it can affect their hormones. The answer is two-fold. Yes, nutrition will affect a female’s hormones, but the keto diet won’t destroy hormones. What that basically means is while a low-carb, high-fat diet may have an endless amount of benefits (if you don’t believe us then check out the Body Reboot book, which provides dozens of reasons why this is so), it’s still important for women to get their macronutrients in and listen to their body.
Unfortunately, some women rely on hearsay and may not read the right sources about a low carb diet. If they hear something negative about the keto diet and their hormones, they may lose out on several benefits. These benefits may include the improvement of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and PCOS.
That’s why it’s so important for not only women to educate themselves about the keto diet and their hormones, but for men to understand as well. Let’s see what various sources have to say about the keto diet and how it may or may not affect a woman’s hormones.
The Perfect Keto explains what to expect while on a keto diet and, in particular, what to consider when it comes to a woman’s hormones and her period.
If your periods have always been bad, or if you have chronic pain you can’t explain (back ache, severe headaches), you may have hormonal imbalance, which needs correction and consultation with your doctor before you do something drastic as undertaking the ketogenic diet. If already in ketosis, SEE YOUR DOCTOR if you’re concerned about any drastic changes like amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), clotting, pain, etc.
KETO AND YOUR PERIODS: WHAT TO EXPECT (AND NOT TO EXPECT)
You may get your period back after having experienced an irregular flow most of your life
If you’ve been in birth control, and stopped or removed the device, or a natural amenorrhea (for athletes and breastfeeding mothers), your period may go back with a heavy flow to start.
You may get heavier than usual bleeding, lasting for more days than before. Once your body adjusts and compensates for all the changes in estrogen levels and body fat storage and use, everything would go back to normal, or better than before.
Ketosis doesn’t cure bloating. While most other PMS symptoms get better or get done (back ache, cramps, etc), bloating remains. It’s due to the massive surge of estrogen in that part of your cycle.
Hormones affect your insulin sensitivity. Blood glucose surging or dropping is normal. After your period, it should get back to normal.
If you’re hungry, eat. After ovulation, your body prepares to pump out estrogen and progesterone—which can cause hunger. Go for keto-friendly chocolate, keto mug cakes, fat bombs, or go take home the bacon or the steak.
Wicked explains what women should watch out for during their time of the month, and how the keto diet may or may not affect that. Also, women should give themselves a little bit more grace during their period since their hormones can fluctuate. While hormones fluctuate before and after that time of the month (and sometimes even in between!), it’s okay to eat a little bit more or find something healthy to ease the cravings. Don’t deprive a body of its nutrients for the sake of a diet.
Eat yogurt. The diet says no, but I SAY YES. Men don’t need to care about the Lactobacillus acidophilus in yogurt, but a good healthy vagina does! Dannon makes a Light & Fit “Diabetic Friendly” vanilla yogurt that’s only 3 carbs per cup.
Take cranberry supplements. Additionally, we need cranberry to ward away pesky urinary tract infections if we ever plan on forgetting to pee after sex again. So, take a cranberry supplement every day, and accept the carbs that come with it.
Prepare for the lady in red. When the red devil is in town and you “need” sweets, opt for a handful of dark chocolate chocolate chips. The gourmet ones, real dark chocolate ones have the least carbs. The Milk Chocolate Almond Bars from Meleleuca only have 7 carbs for the entire bar, 9 for the DHA-enhanced dark chocolate ones which is also awesome.
Remember that meats take more to digest. Also, stick to broth, sugar-free jello and veggies around that time. Digesting meats when you’ll all puffed up inside can hurt like hell. If it doesn’t, then… lucky you! …keep on keepin’ on.
Don’t weigh yourself during your period. Duh. Your period may get longer and/or come early for a little while but then regulates itself magically!
Dr. Anthony Gustin also believes that the keto diet does not mess up a woman’s hormones, contrary to what some may think. He goes onto say that if a woman’s hormones fluctuate it’s not likely due to the keto diet, but instead she isn’t eating enough (which is easy to do since the keto diet causes a loss in appetite).
There is plenty of data that long term calorie restriction does mess up the regulation of hormones, especially in women. (28) (29) The problem here is that this has nothing to do with ketosis. There are also studies that while calorie restriction messes up hormones, ketosis specifically does not. (30) (39)
It can actually be tough to get enough food on a ketogenic diet. Hunger levels plummet on a ketogenic diet and people just generally forget to eat. (31) I’ve actually had problems with this myself. In my opinion, it is super difficult to get enough food on a ketogenic diet. But again, that does not mean being in ketosis is bad for you. It means not eating enough is bad for you.
Similar to measuring if you’re in ketosis, are you guessing or testing with food intake? Are you measuring and tracking your food intake? Use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your food. When I recorded food for my ketosis experiment, I typically was always surprised that I was under eating. I wouldn’t have known this if I didn’t track.
Yes, it is a pain in the ass to measure everything, but again if you’re guessing don’t complain about your results. You’ll learn soon what your target amount is per day, and what 30g fat and 20g protein looks like together, for instance. If you need, use any bro macro calorie counter to determine what a “maintenance” calorie load should be. This is a good one for a ketogenic diet. As tempting as it may be, do not try to calorie restrict on a ketogenic diet.
You don’t have to worry about calorie restriction if you’re trying to lose fat on a ketogenic diet. You can actually eat more food while in ketosis and still lose the same amount of fat loss as people who calorie restrict. The rate of metabolism and energy regulation is much higher on a ketogenic diet. This means you can eat the same amount as a maintenance diet and still lose fat as if you were on a calorie restricted diet, without the hormonal problems of course.
If you’re on a ketogenic diet and chronically calorie restriction, yes, this may lead to hormonal problems. This is not a problem with ketosis. This is being in a chronic starvation state and pissing your body off. It down regulates certain hormones and then you have hormone problems.
Associated with this problem, but way too much of a topic on its own to address in this post is food quality. Don’t be a fool and take a macro approach to eating on a ketogenic diet. Eat real foods that contain micronutrients. You know, foods that grow and then spoil if you don’t eat them. Don’t be overfed and undernourished. Eat real food.
How to fix this problem: Make sure you’re eating enough high-quality food. Calculate a rough amount of how much you should be eating and track your food intake with an app like MyFitnessPal.
Healthful Pursuit also recommends women following the below tips to keep their hormones balanced while on the keto diet:
Eat more probiotic-rich foods. This will help keep your gut bacteria in check.
Eat more protein on the three days before your period.
Don’t worry about your weight during your period. The extra weight is retained water.
Eat more calcium-rich foods. Calcium intake can help with any PMS symptoms you’re experiencing. Think poppy, sesame, celery, and chia seeds, canned sardines or salmon with bones included, almonds, and green veggies like spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choy, and okra.
Eat more carbohydrates during the 10th-15th days of your cycle, as they are your most fertile.
Continue to take your cranberry supplements if you tend to get UTIs. Yes, they have carbs, but take them knowing that as your body heals on a keto diet, you may stop getting UTIs altogether.
Keep it non-toxic. Some beauty products or cleaning products have toxic chemicals. These increase xenoestrogens, which can really imbalance your hormones. Swap out these products for healthier ones.
Test your hormone levels. The ones you want to check are your SBHG, estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol blood markers.
Manage your stress. As tough as it is, stress messes with your hormones, and needs to be addressed. try to get seven to nine hours of sleep at night, get moving with moderate exercise, try yoga, meditation, nature walks, and spending time with people who make you happy.
Don’t forget fiber. If you feel constipated, get fiber from nuts, seeds, and veggies. On top of that drink plenty of water to hydrate your intestines.
Test your pH levels. Maintaining alkalinity is key – it improves your bone density, lowers inflammation, helps with vitamin absorption, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. If your pH is too acidic, try these keto friendly solutions – lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (mixed in water), mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, cabbage, cucumber, kale, jicama, broccoli, oregano, garlic, ginger, celery or green beans.
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