This one goes out to the ladies! At Warrior Made, we’re often asked if a diet like keto is different for women than it is for men. In this article we look at some things women can learn about their bodies before starting a new diet. We’ll go over ways men and women are different, how your hormones and phases of life impact your diet plans, and we will even give you seven tips to set you up for success on keto. Let’s get started on your journey towards empowerment!
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">How Much Weight Can You Lose On Keto?</p></h4>
Keto is a hot topic right now! You may have heard that the ketogenic diet has many health benefits including improved mental clarity, boosted energy levels, and yes… weight loss<sup>1</sup>. How does a diet like keto help us lose weight? Well, our body enters a state called *ketosis* where we burn fat for fuel instead of glucose (carbs). In ketosis, the body produces *ketones* which becomes our main energy source. This regulates our blood sugar and leads to fewer cravings for carbs and sugar… which means we aren’t as hungry all the time, and won’t overeat!
Oops, back up a sentence. Fewer cravings for carbs and sugar? You might be asking yourself what you *can* and *can’t* eat when you’re in ketosis. It is true, sugar is a no-go on keto. But, there are great <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-sweeteners-which-ones-to-use-which-to-avoid/"><strong>keto sweeteners</strong></a> out there and lots of ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. The basic <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/what-is-the-keto-food-pyramid/"><strong>keto food pyramid</strong></a> is to eat 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs.
Now, a drum roll as we answer the spotlight question: *if I follow a diet like keto to the letter how much weight will I lose?* Well, this one is a little more complicated, especially since our bodies and circumstances are all so different. But, generally it seems the average person will lose more weight in the first week of starting the diet, then a few pounds per week after that, followed by slower weight loss over the long-term. One study shows that overweight participants lost around 30 pounds after 2 months on the diet, which is about 3.5 pounds per week<sup>2</sup>. And some other studies show participants losing more like 1-2 pounds per week<sup>3, 4</sup>.
When we’re talking keto for women, though, there are some factors to consider before determining if it’ll help your weight-loss goals. Let’s jump in.
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<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Does the Keto Diet Work for Females?</p></h4>
It is true that women have some extra hurdles to jump when it comes to navigating keto. This is because our bodies are, shall we say, *complex*. This doesn’t mean keto is impossible, rather that it takes some research, preparation, and even a bit of trial and error to see if it’s right for you.
You may have noticed that the men in your life have an easier time losing weight, and they get away with eating certain foods that would never work for you. But don’t despair. You’re not at fault! Simply put, women and men are built differently. Here are a few important things to know about your body before diving into a new diet.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Fat and Metabolism</p></h5>
Remember that vacation you took with your man, or maybe a brother or friend, where you all splurged by eating out every night, partaking in a few more drinks than usual and indulging in dessert? You came back a few pounds heavier and their weight didn’t even budge! What gives?
Well, as it turns out, women store more fat than men do, and we have a harder time burning that fat off. Before letting this bum you out, think about why it may be. You see, our bodies are built for childbearing. We store more fat than men as a way to prepare us for pregnancy. All and all, not a bad thing. And, it’s good for us to know as it helps us understand one reason why losing weight is a little harder for us.
Taking this one step further, it turns out that a women’s *metabolism* is also slower than a man’s<sup>5</sup>. Because men store less fat than us, they have more muscle. And alas, fat doesn’t burn as many calories as muscle does. So, men are burning more calories just because their physical makeup is a little different than ours.
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<h5><p style="color: #000000">Hormones </p></h5>
Believe it or not, there’s good news when it comes to our hormones! If we lean in a little instead of running for the hills when they enter the scene, we can gain knowledge to improve our health. And, yes, men have hormones too, but because of the difference of the male and female reproductive systems, men aren’t generally taken on as much of a hormonal ride as we are.
So, let’s get to know our hormones a little, and see how they may be preventing us from losing weight and staying healthy.
One hormonal block to losing weight for some women is *polycystic ovary syndrome*, or PCOS. PCOS is a condition that affects a woman’s reproductive hormones. A woman may produce more male than female hormones, which can cause irregular or missed periods, and infertility<sup>6</sup>.
Read for the good news? PCOS is treatable and entering ketosis is often recommended as a way to shed extra pounds<sup>7</sup>. But, if your issue isn’t insulin-related and has more to do with general hormone production in the hypothalamus and pituitary region of the brain, the thyroid, adrenal glands, and gonads (known as the *HPTAG axis*), then keto may not be the perfect fit. In this case, some doctors have seen women *gain* weight in ketosis due extra stress on the body from the transition<sup>8</sup>.
Hanging in with all this hormone talk? Remember, knowledge is power, so let’s dive a little deeper to see if keto is a good fit for you.
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<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Different Seasons of Womanhood</p></h4>
Depending on what stage of life a woman is in, it may be easier or harder to lose weight. So before starting keto, be clear on the season you’re in so that your weight loss goals are realistic and you know what you’re hormonally up against when it comes to shedding pounds. Here are some common questions asked by women at different stages of life…
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Menstruation: Can the Ketogenic Diet Cause Irregular Periods?</p></h5>
This is a great questions! For some women ketosis can affect hormonal balance and irregular periods<sup>9</sup>. One reason is that sometimes a low carb diet can decrease the amount of the hormone leptin you have, which you need for regular periods<sup>10</sup>. Other reasons are because eating fewer carbs may decrease thyroid function and place your adrenals under too much stress<sup>11, 12</sup>.
On the other hand, some studies have shown that women with irregular periods have had success getting back on track with a low carb diet like keto. This was the case with women who were initially overweight, as obesity can lead to menstrual dysregulation<sup>13</sup>.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Pregnancy: Is Keto Safe During Pregnancy?</p></h5>
There isn’t a lot of research on whether a high-fat diet like keto is safe during pregnancy. And since keto promotes weight loss, and this isn’t your goal during pregnancy, this is something to consider. Some studies do show that keto can help women conceive when trying to get pregnant. As a matter of fact, one study shows that women with PCOS and fertility issues did end up becoming pregnant after giving keto a try for twenty-four weeks<sup>14</sup>.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Menopause: Can I Try the Keto Diet This Late in Life?</p></h5>
Alright! We’ve covered a few seasons so far. Let’s chat about one more, shall we? Alas, during menopause, our metabolism slows, making it harder to lose weight<sup>15</sup>. Women during this phase of life often gain weight and have trouble losing it due to hormonal shifts. While more research needs to be done, some studies have shown that low carb diets similar to keto have helped post-menopausal women lose unwanted weight<sup>16</sup>. This could be because a diet like keto helps suppress appetite as it lowers the hormone *ghrelin* (which makes us feel hungry when we have too much of it), and ghrelin is known to increase with menopause<sup>17</sup>.
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<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Seven Keto For Women Tips</p></h4>
Phew! There you have it, ladies: the 411 on what may be hormonally or seasonally happening for you, and how your situation may or may not be a good fit for keto.
To recap, keto may have the most benefit for those who are overweight, and who may have PCOS, insulin resistance and/or type two diabetes. Menopause or post-pregnancy may also be good times to try it.
A diet like keto may not be as good a fit for pregnant women, those with an HPTAG axis imbalance, or those who aren’t necessarily looking to lose weight. In these cases, a higher carb load may be beneficial.
If keto *does* seem like a good fit for you, we’d love to set you up for success! Since women may have more to navigate with this diet, we’ve put together seven simple tips to get you off on the right foot.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Keto for Women Tip #1: Prepare at Your Own Pace</p></h5>
Since your body may take some time adjusting to a new diet and lifestyle, gently experiment as you decrease your number of carbs and increase your fats. Remember for some women, a new routine may add extra stress and shift your hormones. So a gentle approach is often wise. This will let your body adjust, and it will allow you to monitor how your body does with the changes.
Use an app like LifeSum to enter your weight, exercise habits, and weight-loss goals. It will help you figure out how many carbs you should aim for. You can also use keto test strips to see if you are in ketosis as you experiment.
You may want to spend a weekend getting rid of everything in your pantry that doesn’t belong on keto and replacing it with healthier options. Here’s a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-beginner-grocery-list/"><strong>beginner grocery list</strong></a> to start you off. And, once you are in a groove, you can even start <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/the-basics-of-keto-meal-prep/"><strong>meal planning and prepping</strong></a> to make sure you always have a keto meal on hand.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Keto for Women Tip #2: Try a Cyclical Keto-Style Diet</p></h5>
We follow the Warrior Made 14-Day Diet. What makes it different than your standard ketogenic diet is that every two weeks, we let you cheat! We feel this is a more sustainable way to stay on track with a diet. We also encourage intermittent fasting which allows the body to detox, let go of unwanted inflammation, and promote weight loss<sup>18, 19, 20</sup>. Intermittent fasting can create extra stress on the body, which is why there are certain <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/intermittent-fasting-for-women/"><strong>tips for women</strong></a> to get the most out of it.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Keto for Women Tip #3: Keep Track of Things</p></h5>
Since life moves as fast as it does, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of what foods and habits work for us and which work against us. Keeping a food journal is a great way to do this. Simply write down what you eat in a day, and any symptoms that may arise. You will be able to quickly tell if certain foods or a diet in general is having negative effects.
You can also track your PMS symptoms, weight and body fat to see if the diet is helping!
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<h5><p style="color: #000000">Keto for Women Tip #4: Exercise</p></h5>
Always remember, the simplest things can go a long way! We’ve all heard at one point that regular exercise helps prevent disease and promote weight loss. It also helps increase your metabolism. So pairing it with the keto diet is an excellent way to meet your weight-loss goals. You may be wondering what types of exercises to do and how you’ll get back into working out if it’s been a while.
We’ve got you covered! At Warrior Made, we provide <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/"><strong>weekly exercise routines</strong></a> that are simple, can be done from home, and don’t require any equipment. We even provide specific <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/no-equipment-arm-exercises-for-women/"><strong>exercises for women</strong></a> and for those at <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/the-best-low-impact-exercises-for-seniors/"><strong>different seasons in life</strong></a>. There’s no time like the present to take steps towards reaching your optimal health with exercise!
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Keto for Women Tip #5: Electrolytes and Hydration</p></h5>
To maximize your results on a diet like keto, it’s super important to stay <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/hydration-how-much-water-should-you-be-drinking/"><strong>hydrated</strong></a> and to get enough <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-electrolytes/"><strong>electrolytes</strong></a>. Whether you’re a man or woman, it’s common to experience something called the *keto flu* as your body adjusts to ketosis. Staying hydrated will often stave off these symptoms. For women especially, it’s important to stay hydrated and get plenty of electrolytes throughout the day as they have a direct relationship with hormone balance<sup>21</sup>. Again, this may seem like a simple tip, but it really impacts your quality of life, especially when starting a low carb diet that requires you get a good amount of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/do-micronutrients-matter-as-much-as-macronutrients/"><strong>micronutrients</strong></a> to thrive!
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Keto for Women Tip #6: Carbs and Calories</p></h5>
Make sure you are eating enough calories! Keto is not a starvation diet. You actually eat fat to lose fat―as crazy as that sounds. Your body enters a fight or flight response when it thinks it’s in starvation mode and actually ends up storing more fat in the body. Not eating enough calories can be one reason you’re not losing weight on keto. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/8-reasons-youre-not-losing-weight-on-keto/"><strong>Here are a few other reasons, too</strong></a>!
While you want to eat the right amount of carbs to keep you in ketosis, it’s also good to know <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/when-is-the-best-time-to-eat-carbs-on-keto/"><strong>when to eat them on keto</strong></a>. Generally, it’s good to eat carbs when you’ll be doing the most activity in your day. So if you think you’ll be doing a big run or other strenuous exercise, it’s good to eat more carbs then or to pop out of ketosis to get you through the big pushes. Also, if you think you’d do better overall with carbs in your diet, try eating as many as you can tolerate without being knocked out of ketosis.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Keto for Women Tip #7: Supplementation</p></h5>
Ok, here’s the last tip we’ve got to set you up for your diet. Supplements! Once you have a better understanding of how your hormones are impacting your day-to-day life, you can start using supplements to help you balance things out. Working with a healthcare provider here is key. At Warrior Made, we have <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/shop/"><strong>Warrior Made Supplements</strong></a> which are specific to the keto diet and help with everything from weight loss (<a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/keto-support/shop/"><strong>keto bundle</strong></a>) to nail, hair, and skin enhancement (<a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/go2protein/shop/"><strong>Go2 Protein with Collagen</strong></a>). We also have a Warrior Made Female Supplement that’s meant to improve those times of hormonal shift such as menses as well as before or after childbirth and can be a good addition to your keto journey. It’s also intended to improve mood and mental focus, promote weight loss, prevent colds, reduce stress, and increase libido. So keep your eyes out for that because, let’s face it… we could all use more of these things!
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<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Woman Power</p></h4>
Ok goddess, we commend you for taking the time to learn more about your body! Overall, keto has been shown to help with mental clarity, weight loss, and to reduce inflammation. But is this true for everyone? The truth is that we’re all different. And it is important to do your research before jumping into a new diet, exercise, or supplementation routine. Women are complex beings who may have more factors at play when starting a low carb diet like keto. But when you know what’s happening in your body, you’ve consulted healthcare professionals, and you’ve used your intuition to guide you, you’re one step further in achieving your weight loss and overall health goals!
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Resources</p></h5>
1. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/">Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients</a>
2. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24584583">Comparison of a very low-calorie-ketogenic diet with a standard low-calorie diet</a>
3. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/">Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients</a>
4. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2633336/">The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet</a>
5. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11706283">Gender differences in fat metabolism.</a>
6. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome">Polycystic ovary syndrome</a>
7. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27510483Menopause">Menopause</a>
8. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.saragottfriedmd.com/the-ketogenic-diet-for-women/">The Ketogenic Diet in Women</a>
9. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/low-carb-and-womens-hormones">Do Very Low-Carb Diets Mess Up Some Women's Hormones?</a>
10. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17851226">Roles of ghrelin and leptin in the control of reproductive function.</a>
11. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1249190">Effect of caloric restriction</a>
12. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10997609">The role of stress and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome</a>
13. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5372867/">The Effect of Low Carbohydrate Diets</a>
14. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16359551">The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome</a>
15. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.womenshealth.northwestern.edu/blog/menopause-and-weight-gain">Menopause and Weight Gain</a>
16. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24473459">Long-term effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet</a>
17. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18280066">Change in adipocytokines and ghrelin with menopause</a>
18. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17919301">A prospective study of the modified Atkins diet for intractable epilepsy in adults</a>
19. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17291990/">Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings</a>
20. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19793855">Short-term modified alternate-day fasting</a>
21. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6144593">Hormones and electrolytes in premenstrual syndrome</a>