Some women have claimed that as soon as they went on the keto diet, they got pregnant shortly after. Women are sharing their stories of how their dream of becoming a mother come true after changing their diet. Is this the case? Can going on a high fat, low carb diet known as the ketogenic diet help a woman get pregnant more easily? This diet can indeed improve one’s health, as we explain in the Body Reboot book. Since it encourages women to get healthy, it’s also safe to assume that in some cases may help a woman get pregnant. Here’s what a few studies have to say on the matter.
Huffington Post discusses a few studies and one, in particular, found that on a low carb diet women experienced an improvement in their reproductive hormones.
There is very limited academic research from the last 3 years on the topic of conception (or fertility) and the ketogenic diet. One study of rats showed that diet-induced obese rats had reduced reproductive abilities, and a high fat diet reduced it even further.
However, a recent meta-analysis had promising results, with five out of six reviewed studies showing significant positive improvements in reproductive hormones after low carbohydrate interventions. This review is far from conclusive, but suggests that further research should be done to determine the effects of low carb diets on fertility.
Obesity often has negative consequences to reproductive health and fertility. Women who are obese are likely to struggle with problems relating to menstruation, miscarriage, and anovulation. Low carb and ketogenic diets have long been associated with weight loss while more effectively preserving lean muscle mass than other types of diets. Specifically, ketogenic diets can be significantly more effective for weight loss than a regular low carb diet.
Huffington Post also reveals that type 2 diabetes and fertility can both improve by being on the ketogenic diet. It can manage symptoms and in time, perhaps eliminate negative health issues moving forward.
Similarly, type 2 diabetes is also commonly associated with sexual dysfunction, menstrual problems, and issues with the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus.
There is also growing evidence that the ketogenic diet may be effective for managing symptoms of type 2 diabetes in the short-term, treating, or controlling type 2 diabetes. In fact, the ketogenic diet may be more effective in improving glycemic control and weight loss for type 2 diabetics than are low-fat diets.
A study by Nutrients. in 2017 found that even though more studies must take place, so far, studies are showing that a woman’s hormones may improve after going on a low carb diet. More specifically, the keto diet can help improve a woman’s hormones and thus help her get pregnant more quickly.
Background: Medical interventions including assisted reproductive technologies have improved fertility outcomes for many sub-fertile couples. Increasing research interest has investigated the effect of low carbohydrate diets, with or without energy restriction. We aimed to systematically review the published literature to determine the extent to which low carbohydrate diets can affect fertility outcomes; Methods: The review protocol was registered prospectively with Prospective Register for Systematic Reviews (registration number CRD42016042669) and followed Preferred Reporting Items For Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Infertile women were the population of interest, the intervention was low carbohydrate diets (less than 45% total energy from carbohydrates), compared to usual diet (with or without co-treatments). Four databases were searched from date of commencement until April 2016; a supplementary Google scholar search was also undertaken. Title and abstract, then full text review, were undertaken independently and in duplicate. Reference lists of included studies and relevant systematic reviews were checked to ensure that all relevant studies were identified for inclusion. Quality assessment was undertaken independently by both authors using the Quality Criteria Checklist for Primary Research. Outcome measures were improved fertility outcomes defined by an improvement in reproductive hormones, ovulation rates and/or pregnancy rates; Results: Seven studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were included in the evidence synthesis. Interventions were diverse and included a combination of low carbohydrate diets with energy deficit or other co-treatments. Study quality was rated as positive for six studies, suggesting a low risk of bias, with one study rated as neutral. Of the six studies which reported changes in reproductive hormones, five reported significant improvements post intervention; Conclusion: The findings of these studies suggest that low carbohydrate diets warrant further research to determine their effect. These randomised controlled trials should consider the effect of carbohydrates (with or without energy deficit) on hormonal and fertility outcomes.
The study also does a fantastic job of explaining how weight can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. If she loses weight, the odds of getting pregnant are greatly improved.
It has been suggested that approximately 7% of women of reproductive age have some form of sub-fertility. Pre-conception weight is one of the major risk factors for fertility outcomes and it is well accepted that weight loss improves fertility in overweight and obese women. Women with a body mass index (BMI) >30 kg/m2 are classed as being clinically obese and have natural menstrual cycle disruptions at a rate of almost three times higher than women of a healthy weight. A positive relationship also exists between pre-conception body mass index and the time needed to fall pregnant in women who are overweight and obese.
Carrying excess weight prior to conception can be an obstacle for obese women in getting pregnant, resulting in many women looking to healthcare professionals for assistance. Many overweight women who struggle with fertility have co-morbidities such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which poses additional challenges to fertility in itself due to disturbances in insulin resistance, sex-steroid metabolism and menstrual cycles. It has been estimated that 75% of infertile overweight or obese women have PCOS.
Although assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilisation can provide an opportunity for these women and other sub-fertile couples to conceive, it is not a failsafe option. A retrospective cohort study conducted by Moragianni and colleagues showed that obese women have 68% lower odds of having a live birth following their first assisted reproductive therapy cycle compared to non-obese women. Furthermore, obesity is related to a need for higher doses of assisted reproductive therapy medications, more frequent cycle cancellations and lower rates of efficacy at each stage of the in vitro fertilisation process. It is well documented in the literature that weight loss can improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes, particularly involving in vitro fertilisation. The benefits to this patient cohort include more regular menstrual cycles, better quality embryos available for transfer, less dosage requirement for medications and the need for fewer treatment cycles. Moreover, weight loss of as little as 5%–10% can be significant in improving hormonal imbalances, reducing rates of spontaneous abortions and miscarriages.
Pre-pregnancy weight loss has historically been centred on the traditional low fat, energy restricted diet plan. However the use of very low energy diets and low carbohydrate diets are increasingly being used to illicit more favourable weight loss and fertility outcomes. Low carbohydrate diets are those where less than 45% of macronutrients come from carbohydrates with or without an energy deficit. A meta-analysis of overweight or obese adults with metabolic syndrome by Hu and colleagues found that low carbohydrate diets achieved comparable improvements in waist circumference, total-cholesterol, fasting glucose and serum insulin to low fat diets. Furthermore, low carbohydrate diets resulted in greater improvements in weight, high density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. Concerns have been raised regarding the health effects of following low carbohydrate diets for long periods, however within particular clinical populations and for defined periods there may be benefits.
Another study by Human Reproductive Update again revealed that women who are at a healthy weight are more likely to conceive. Weight loss interventions, such as the keto diet, can lead to weight loss and ovulation improvement.
The prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide, with a corresponding increase in overweight and obese patients referred with infertility. This systematic review aimed to determine whether non-surgical weight reduction strategies result in an improvement in reproductive parameters affected by obesity, e.g. delayed time to pregnancy, oligozoospermia and azoospermia. No prior reviews have examined this within the general fertility population, or in both sexes.
OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE:
Our objective was to answer the question: ‘In overweight and obese women, men and couples seeking fertility treatment, what non-surgical weight-loss interventions have been used, and how effective are they at weight loss and improving reproductive outcomes?'
An electronic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library was performed for studies between January 1966 and March 2016. Text word and MESH search terms used related to infertility, weight and barriers to weight loss. Inclusion criteria were an intervention to change lifestyle evaluated in any study design in participants of either gender with an unfulfilled desire to conceive. Studies were excluded if they included participants not attempting pregnancy, with illnesses that might cause weight fluctuations, or studies evaluating bariatric surgery. Two reviewers performed data extraction and quality assessment using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool for randomized trials, and a ratified checklist (ReBIP) for non-randomized studies.
A total of 40 studies were included, of which 14 were randomised control trials. Primary outcomes were pregnancy, live birth rate and weight change. In women, reduced calorie diets and exercise interventions were more likely than control interventions to result in pregnancy [risk ratio 1.59, 95% CI (1.01, 2.50)], and interventions resulted in weight loss and ovulation improvement, where reported. Miscarriage rates were not reduced by any intervention.
Healthline also divulges that having a poor diet and being overweight can also affect men's fertility, which is why they should focus on their health just as much as women.
Excess weight and a poor diet can affect men’s fertility, too. “The standard American diet, filled with refined carbohydrates and sugar, has been associated with poor sperm health, negatively impacting sperm motility, morphology [shape], and shape count,” notes Will Cole, a doctor of chiropractic and a functional medicine expert in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, and author of Ketotarian. (Even a super-fertile woman is going to have trouble getting pregnant if her partner doesn’t have enough good-quality sperm.) “Conversely, diets rich in healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, and omega fatty-acid-rich fish, have been shown to improve sperm health,” Dr. Cole adds.
It’s always exciting when committing to a positive lifestyle change results in incredible health improvements. Read the Body Reboot book to learn about the keto diet’s countless health benefits for both women and men. For a limited time, you can get a free copy of our book! Help us cover shipping and head over to this page to get a free copy.
Sources: NCBI: Nutrients. 2017, NCBI: Human Reproductive Update, Healthline, Huffington Post
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