Keto dieting is becoming more popular day-by-day. It is no longer a diet solely reserved for fitness and health fanatics, or neurodegenerative disease victims. It has invaded every walk of life and hardly would you not hear about it in a day. It was one of the top 10 diets listed as part of Google’s 2019 Year in Search report. The reason for this could not be far fetched as both men and women who are looking for a fast and effective way to lose weight rush into the keto band wagon. Additionally, numerous people love this diet because it increases both mental and physical energy, reduces inflammation and prevents sugar related diseases.
However, have you asked yourself the reason why body response to keto diets varies from men to women? Could it be as a result of differences in the physiological system of the body or the perceived notion that men maintain focus on their keto diet goals more than the women? The whole of this article will look explicitly into the effects of keto dieting on women body systems and how keto dieting can be made to work for women.
What are the factors that affect response to keto dieting in women?
I do not know whether you have noticed this before. When a male and a female engage in a keto dieting program together, perform the same exercise routine, and stick to calorie goals, the male is way more likely to not only lose more weight, but also do so faster. Initially, they might be losing weight at the same rate but after some time the female might notice a halt in her weight loss or even a rapid weight gain. This particular trend has been reported in laboratory experiments conducted on male and female mice. Although only a few studies have been carried out on humans, scientists have attributed their observation to some factors that affect the female body system but not the same as males. Some of these factors include:
There is an important reproductive organ in the female reproductive system called the ovary. This organ produces two important hormones namely, estrogen and progesterone. It is these two hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle and play a significant role in pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.
The functions of these hormones do not end in the reproductive system alone but also affect your dietary lifestyle. For example, Estrogen inhibits food intake, while progesterone boosts appetite. Fluctuation in the concentration of these hormones which is a natural phenomenon as you transit from your active childbearing years to menopause affects your eating behaviors and have a direct impact on your ketogenic lifestyle.
Another hormone of importance is Testosterone. This hormone is also produced in the ovary but in a small amount. An increase in testosterone level which may be caused by PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, increases appetite which may also influence obesity and infertility in women.
2. Menstrual Cycle
The awful pre and post menstrual symptoms you face as a woman are also one of the factors that affect your responses and behavior during a keto journey. Each month, we all experience that dreaded PMS (premenstrual syndrome) which makes it a great challenge to stay in ketosis.
The days before your period is always challenging as there is an increase in carbohydrate cravings and it is always hard to stick with keto diet rules. In a bid to satisfy this natural carb cravings, most women kick themselves out of ketosis.
Another culprit in this is the Premenstrual headaches. Combining this with keto flu makes keto dieting a nightmare and this has been one of the major reasons some consciously or unconsciously ditch their keto goals.
Meanwhile, our male counterparts do not face all these hurdles in their quest to reach ketosis.
3. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Pregnancy and breastfeeding are other factors that affect women's response to a keto diet. Although, there is proven evidence that keto diet addresses health issues that contribute to infertility and increases your chances of getting pregnant.
However, aiming for weight loss while pregnant may affect your growing baby as it needs all the nutrients and calories possible to form vital parts of their body. Also, you need to skip intermittent fasting while pregnant as this might starve the developing fetus.
As a Lactating mom, you also need superfoods like whole grain products and fruits which are carb-rich foods to provide energy and increase milk production. But, all these take a toll on your ultimate goal of reaching ketosis.
Evidently, as a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, you can not stick to keto diets as your male counterpart because that may put your growing baby in danger.
No matter how funny this may sound, your constant access to the kitchen and junk-filled fridge is a great factor that also affects your dedication to your keto goal. No matter how disciplined you are, there is no way you will notice your favorite pastries in the fridge without being tempted to take a bite, which eventually leads to the consumption of the whole pastry!
Also, If you are the one that prepares meals for the whole household, you may feel burdened to make both keto and non-keto options — especially if you have children and this will quickly take a toll on your willingness to stay in keto if you don’t have help to prep all your meals and those for everyone else.
Plus, since women tend to view mealtimes more as social gatherings than refueling sessions, it can feel isolating sticking to your keto guns while everyone around you happily gorges on your old faves. However, this is not the case for men.
How to make keto diet work for you as a woman.
Yes, it is now understood that women are poised to face challenges in their quest to reach ketosis than their male counterparts. But there are ways you can bypass all the hurdles and have a remarkable keto journey. Some of these ways are;
1. Never limit your fat intake for fear of calorie
In the quest of watching their calorie intake, many women tend to reduce their fat intake. But the truth is that there is no need to stress over calories while on keto. All you need to ensure is to be careful not to overeat and ignore physical activity.
However, if you still insist on paying much attention to your calorie intake, I will advise you to take it slow and begin by tracking your regular food intake. This will not only give you practice for measuring your food and tracking your macros in keto, but it will also give you an average carb baseline for your body.
Also, ensure you consume more healthy fats such as avocados, MCT oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds as they also stimulate the production of hormones.
2. Learn to outsmart your PMS cravings.
PMS cravings differ among women but nearly all women around this time of the month dream of chocolate, carbs and high calorie junk foods. Even when following a low-carb lifestyle, you’re not 100% immune to cravings.
Although cravings during PMS is mostly as a result of hormonal changes, there are some measures you can take to subdue its impact on your eating pattern.
Weeks before your PMS, prepare a list of yummy keto-friendly foods that can be easily prepared when craving sets in. We have got a lot of options for you in our keto diets repository.
Also, engage in exercises by sticking with your gym schedules as this helps in reducing PMS cramps. But, stay away from the scale before and during your period week to protect your mental and emotional health.
3. Engage in intermittent fasting
One of the advantages of intermittent fasting is that it gives your body a break from the tiresome work of digesting foods.
During this time off, your body will work on repairing itself and balancing your hormones instead of going through the rigamarole of digestion.
And when your body finishes all these chores and gets a bit peckish, it will use your fat reserves for energy so you don’t take in more calories than you burn.
The best way to practice intermittent fasting is by ensuring daily 14 hour fasting periods, or by fasting every other day.
Sticking with these methods of intermittent fasting will fast track your ketosis goal, preserve muscle mass by encouraging pure fat loss, reduce cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
4. Keep up with your exercise routine but reduce stress
Engaging in moderate exercises assist in easing your ride into ketosis. Studies have shown that a fast cardio exercise allows for more fat loss. Strength training also improves reproductive function and decreased belly fat. So, workout with weights at least twice a week for 20–30 minutes.
Meanwhile, stress should be avoided as much as possible if you want to see improvement in your keto dieting efforts as a woman. While energy temporarily increases to handle stress, different parts and functions of your body suffer. Some of the effects of stress are; Irregular periods, headaches and migraine, worsen PMS symptoms and reduced ability to get pregnant.
5. Take keto supplements
Due to the restrictive nature of keto diets, there is high risk of nutrient deficiency. Some important micronutrients are very important in the diets of keto adopters as some of them serve as electrolytes or assist in other body physiological processes.
Some of them also assist in balancing the hormone or regulating some hormonal activities. A good example of this are B vitamins which have been reported to help create and activate estrogen.
On this, I have good news for you! Most of our keto supplements at bone and oak already contain the right proportions of the micro nutrients you need to power your day and have a smooth keto ride. All you need is to buy one and follow the direction for usage.
Trully, there are hurdles for females engaging in keto dieting when compared with their male counterparts. However, by taking some measures mentioned in this article you can maneuver your way out of the hurdles and give yourself a befitting keto experience.