3 Ways Ketogenic Dieting Is Different for Women
It seems young, male bodybuilders are ubiquitous in the world of ketogenic dieting, a way of eating that requires keeping carbohydrate intake very low (typically 50 grams or less per day) and induces a state called ketosis where the body uses its own fat for fuel. If you’re a woman embarking on this way of eating, you may feel a bit underrepresented. Rest assured that there are women out there doing keto. But for us, specifically those of us in our child-bearing years, the experience isn’t quite the same.
You cut the carbs, you go through keto flu (very unpleasant symptoms of carb withdrawal), you finally hit your stride, and then bam! Suddenly you find yourself with horrible cravings for pizza and brownies. Because Aunt Flow is on her way and her friend PMS is letting you know about it. Unfortunately, if you want to stay in ketosis (and grain free) your days of saying "screw it" and ordering Domino’s are in the past. If you cheat and knock yourself out of ketosis, you have to go through the process, and all the icky symptoms, all over again to get back into ketosis. Instead, a little extra effort each month can make sure you stay on track. The Internet is full of easy ketogenic recipes for pizza crust and fat bombs (bite-sized sweet or savory snacks made primarily from fat). Rest assured you can deal with the cravings.
Your reproductive system will probably have a little party.
Speaking of Aunt Flow, being in ketosis can mess up your monthly. Big time. Women with amenohrrea due to PCOS can start having periods again. Women with normal cycles may find themselves very late or very early. It’s even possible to have double periods where menstruation stops one week and starts again the next. This is because ketosis causes fat loss, and when you lose fat, all the estrogen that was bound up in your fat cells is also released. Extra estrogen means some interesting effects on your period. The good news is this tends to be temporary. If things get too crazy, consider seeing your doctor.
Your fertility could be affected.
Being in ketosis long-term could lead to your periods stopping altogether. If you want to get pregnant, consider Primal or Paleo or even regular low carb as an alternative to a ketogenic diet. On the other hand, if you find yourself suddenly having periods since going into ketosis, it’s possible to also find yourself suddenly able to conceive. Again, see your doctor if any of this is a concern for you.
Despite the sometimes very inconvenient quirks of keto that women experience (that men don’t), it can be a fantastic way of eating. It can help you shed pounds, give you higher energy levels, and even help with certain medical conditions.
It’s important to go in knowing what to expect.