The ketogenic diet produces various effects on a person’s body. This happens when they go into the state of ketosis and start getting their daily energy from food carbs rather than daily meals. Studies show this can produce several health benefits including weight loss, lower blood sugar, and maybe a lower risk of diseases like type-2diabetes and heart disease. Another possible effect is the effects of a low carb diet menstrual cycle. For example, some women might notice that while on Keto or Atkins their period starts to become irregular. In other situations, it might even stop completely. As always, it’s important to know what’s going on including the causes of the situation.
The situation is quite common and there’s even a formal name for it. In fact, one study’s findings showed that 45% of the people on keto experienced an irregular monthly cycle. One theory is the change is due to rapid weight loss. However, this can happen when on any diet like Paleo or so it might be related to other factors that are specifically linked to Keto. The main features of the diet involve going into the state of ketosis, which in theory could affect the hormonal changes involved with a woman’s period. Let’s take a closer look.
Effects of Menstrual Cycle and Keto Diet
Menstrual cycles usually vary from about 25 to 35 days and only up to 15% of women experience cycles that are always 28 days. Meanwhile, about one-fifth of women experience irregular cycles, which can be affected by factors like the keto diet.
Hormones control the menstrual cycle. A special gland makes certain hormones that are involved in issues like the release of eggs during ovulation. They’re also involved in preparing the uterus for the situation of being fertilized.
The hormones work together during the menstrual cycle’s three phases. The process involves different hormones including the female hormone estrogen.
If the egg doesn’t get fertilized it results in the woman’s estrogen level lowering. Another menstrual cycle then starts.
The entire process involves different hormones working together. So, the situation can be affected by a low-carb diet.
The keto diet isn’t just a lower-carb diet. Regular daily diets can be as high as two-thirds of carbs. However, the keto diet drops carbs to 10% or even 5%.
This causes the body’s systems to work differently. For example, when the body doesn’t get enough carbs to fuel everyday physical/mental activities it then gets them from different sources.
This explains the “keto” in the ketogenic diet. When the body uses up all its blood sugar and stored carbs it then starts breaking down stored fat. This is known as “ketosis.”
Another energy source during ketosis is something called ketones. These also supply the body/brain with energy.
This process is a game-changer in how the body gets energy. Many people experience something called “keto flu” during the first few weeks on the keto diet. These are flu-like symptoms that involve the body adjusting to the new energy source of fat and ketones.
So, the main issue is how a low-carb diet could affect a woman’s menstrual cycle in terms of hormones.
Low Carb Diet Menstrual Cycle
One theory is that the process of cutting calories/carbs on keto could affect the menstrual cycle. However, that can happen while on other diets.
However, the weight loss of Keto can be drastic. One study showed an average 10% drop in original body weight. This is due to the ketosis process.
Some experts argue that most of the evidence linking Keto to changes to irregular menstruation isn’t strong. In other words, it’s just been observed or based on small studies.
This explains why sometimes the changes in a woman’s period while on keto is probably related to weight loss instead of the diet.
They explain that regular periods require the brain to release hormones at a regular rate. However, this process can be affected by factors known as “stressors.” They can include ones like weight loss or high-intensity exercise.
Estrogen is a key hormone that controls the menstrual cycle. So, when a female’s weight drops it results in a drop in estrogen levels as well.
That said, health experts also explain that women should monitor the drop in estrogen levels. It can cause short-term side-effects but also long-term ones like bone loss. Various estrogen supplements are on the market. Women can take them to boost the female hormone naturally.
Experts also explain that factors like missed periods and lower estrogen can affect fertility. However, they might not be serious issues for women who aren’t concerned about pregnancy. In terms of dealing with the situations in terms of women’s health, they explain it’s not a major issue.
That said, experts suggest comparing irregular cycles to past ones. If you didn’t have them in the past but experience them for 3-6 months then you should talk to your doctor. As always it can help give peace of mind. The doctor can review your situation and make recommendations.
Keto for Women: Top Tips
1. Don’t amp up calorie restriction
It’s important to note that the Keto design is already designed as a low-carb diet. So, there’s no need to do serious calorie-reducing. This doesn’t mean you should do binge eating just because calorie counting isn’t required.
On the other hand, you should stress too much about calories. There’s no need to keep checking body weight or measuring waist. You’re on track if you maintain a low-carb diet of 25g to 50g carbs and about 70% fats.
2. Don’t’ take bad advice
If you aren’t losing weight on the keto diet you might hear advice like:
- You’re eating too much protein
- Reduce carbohydrates to 20g
- You’re consuming too many calories
In fact, due to ketosis-caused stress, you might need to boost carbs.
3. Minimize fat bombs
There are whole cookbooks to affect keto-friendly snacks. They’re ideal for keto athletes who need extra energy for sports practices and gym workouts. If you eat fat bombs make them as nutrient-rich as possible.
Here are some better options:
- Celery sticks/nut butter
- Pork rinds
- Guacamole w/ veggies
- Seaweed tuna salad wrap
- Hard-boiled egg with mayo/mustard
4. Maintain protein
One of the biggest mistakes people make while on keto is decreasing protein. While keto isn’t a high-protein diet it should stay mid-range at about 20% to 25%. Protein is important for various functions of the human body. In particular, you won’t want to lose muscle mass weight losing weight.
5. Eat more during week 1
Experts explain that this step can provide various benefits. It helps to prepare the body for fat stores becoming the body’s new fuel source of stored fat.
It also sends the body’s metabolism the signal that it’s getting enough fuel. This will help to encourage the body to burn fat stores. It also helps to get you in the right mindset for a low carb diet menstrual cycle.