“Dieting is the only game where you win when you lose” Karl Lagerfeld
Overweight and obesity are persistently worrying the women. Needless to mention that these significant worries have reached out such large dimensions that they nowadays constitute two major health issues worldwide. In the search for more practical solutions, has emerged the Ketogenic Diet for Women like you and me, as an easy and fast way to lose weight. You can see my post about Probiotics
The ketogenic diet or keto diet predominantly comprises very-low-carbohydrates, moderate-proteins, and high-fats. The approximate dietary micronutrient composition is 5% to 10% carbohydrates, 30% to 35% protein, and 55% to 60% fat. This detailed specification or condition means a quantity of about 20-50 g of carbohydrates per day on a diet of 2000 kcal.
The reduction in the carbohydrate ingestion under 50 g daily diminishes the secretion of insulin, and the body comes under a catabolic state. The store of glycogen runs down, and the body enters into the metabolic process of gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis.
What is ketosis?
If the availability of glucose goes down further, the production of endogenous glucose is not enough for covering the energetic body needs and the ketogenesis begins to provide the body with an alternative source of energy. During the ketogenesis process, the organism produces ketone bodies that turn into the primary source of energy instead of glucose.
In the course or development of ketogenesis, the stimulus for insulin secretion is low and directed by the low glucose quantity in the blood causing a reduction in glucose and fat storage.
The fatty acids produced by the breakdown of fats are metabolized as acetoacetate and then changed into acetone and beta-hydroxybutyrate, the three ketone bodies accumulated during a sustained ketogenic diet. This state is known as “nutritional ketosis.”
Nutritional ketosis is a safe state because the ketone bodies are produced in small quantities without any changes in blood pH. That is a different state of ketoacidosis where ketone bodies are synthesized in very larger concentrations altering blood pH in an acidotic state.
The ketone bodies are utilized for energy production by your kidneys, heart, and muscles. They can get across the blood-brain barrier and offer the brain another source of energy.
An interesting aspect of ketone bodies is that they produce more adenosine triphosphate or ATP (the molecule supplying and storing energy in the cells) in comparison with glucose.
For instance, 100 g of beta-hydroxybutyrate yields 10,500 g of ATP; 100 g of acetoacetate generates 9400 grams of ATP; 100 grams of glucose produces only 8,700 grams of ATP.
In so doing, ketone bodies provide, firstly, enough fuel during a caloric deficit state, secondly, improve antioxidant capacity, and finally, decrease free radical damage.
The short-term effects of a ketogenic diet (up to 2 years) are vomiting, headache, fatigue, dizziness, insomnia, difficulty in exercise tolerance, constipation, and nausea. These symptoms sometimes are denoted to as keto flu and can be solved shortly in the coming days or weeks (for a review, see 1).
Possible side effects of a ketogenic diet
In the long run, the side effects of a ketogenic diet are less described, but until now some health issues have been included such as hypoproteinemia, kidney stones, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and hepatic steatosis.
In some cases, a ketogenic diet cannot be appropriate if patients have fat-metabolism disorders, liver failure, pancreatitis, carnitine palmitoyltransferase deficiency, primary carnitine deficiency, porphyrias, pyruvate kinase deficiency or carnitine translocase deficiency (for a review, see 1).
Scientifically proven benefits of a ketogenic diet
For many years, the ketogenic diet has been studied and researches have shown many benefits not only for weight loss but also for other health difficulties. The following are some advantages or profits:
- Decrease triglycerides, blood glucose, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol; reduce body mass index, and increase HDL cholesterol levels (2).
- Can improve fat oxidative metabolism and aids to control hunger and consequent weight loss (3).
- Has anorexigenic effects through cholecystokinin release and diminishes orexigenic signals by means of ghrelin (4).
- In athletes dealing with endurance, even though the diet reduces energy levels initially, improves skin conditions, minimizes inflammation, improves recovery, and enhances well-being (5).
- In women, it reduces fat mass, visceral mass and augmented body mass; it decreases cravings for food and alcohol; it improves sexual functioning, reduces sleep abnormalities, and in general enhances life quality (6).
- Has potential as adjuvant therapy for cancer. In women with ovarian or endometrial cancer, it reduces fatigue, cravings for fast food fats, and for starchy foods; It does not affect their life quality and can augment their physical functions (7).
- By reducing circulating insulin levels, it improves hormonal imbalance and consequently, it resumes ovulation to improve pregnancy rates in women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome, overweight, and obesity (8).
Highlighting physiological aspects of a ketogenic diet
– The ketogenic diet allows optimal insulin and leptin sensitivity leading you into a ketosis state to feel easily satisfied.
– Low carbohydrate load decreases body oxidative stress, permitting the formation of healthy insulin receptors and normalizing blood sugar regulations. The improvement of insulin sensitivity decreases fat storage and inflammation.
– The reduction of insulin levels entails more sodium excretion by your kidneys and lowers the ratio, sodium/potassium necessary or vital for the proper electrical impulse transfer or conveyance in the excitable/sensitive cells.
– Too much protein ingestion causes the amino acids to be stored in your body as glucose through the metabolic pathway of gluconeogenesis.
– Your dieting low in carbohydrate and high in fat frequently yields deficits in the type and quantity of adequate nutrients; therefore, you can supplement your diet with enough micronutrients and fiber as a suitable complement for your integral health.
– Ketosis causes dehydration and reduces exercise tolerance. This loss of body water is the result of protein and glycogen losses.
Your menstrual cycle and ketosis
In a ketogenic diet, the insulin levels decrease as well as the leptin levels as a result of the insulin stimulation of leptin synthesis. The ovaries and pre-ovulatory follicles are leptin receptors. The low levels of circulating leptin disturb reproductive tissues and produce imbalances in your sex hormones.
Sex hormones are fundamental for maintaining your menstruation, fertility, reproduction, and lactation. When the leptin levels descend too low because of sustained ketosis, you can be facing certain hormonal difficulties.
This process is caused by the low leptin levels, which send a message to the appropriate cell signaling pathways and noticing or revealing that it is starvation time. A stress response is released or unchained. At this moment, your reproductive functions are not a priority.
Those sequential actions are particularly possible for you if you are a thin woman adhering to a strict ketogenic diet that induces in your body low leptin levels.
A ketosis diet is not suitable for you if a) you have irregular menstrual cycles, b) you are pregnant or breastfeeding, c) you have thyroid troubles or adrenal fatigue, or d) you are a high-level athlete. A short-term mild-ketosis can be very beneficial in some of the cases previously mentioned, but it is your physician who can assess your physical state (for a review see 9).
Relevant and applicable recommendations for your eating plan
1. Select good fats like coconut oil, pastured butter, medium chain triglyceride oil, avocados, grass-fed animal products, goat’s milk, seeds, and nuts.
2. Eat protein in moderate quantity according to your physical aims, whether they be for losing weight or building muscles.
3. Eat about 1 g of protein/kg of body weight per day. In heavy training days, eat 100-120 g of protein/kg of body weight every day.
4. Choose your carbohydrates from low-carbohydrate, vegetables and fruits, like berries, granny smith apple, lime, lemon, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, brussels’ sprouts, broccoli, kale, spinach, and so on.
5. Add your carbohydrates to your meals or shakes in the evening for keeping your level of blood glucose stable. It is very important and healthy to avoid cravings.
6. As a woman, adhere to the drinking recommendations approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of water per day.
7. Consume some extra 2-5 g of sodium. The best option is to ingest sodium from non-refined sea salt like pink Himalaya sea salt (for a review see 9).
To remind you
Many individuals and a diverse amount of communities worldwide are eagerly practicing the ketogenic diet. They are wisely embracing this rewarding diet as their lifestyle. You can also regard the ketogenic diet as an effective, safe and fast way of losing weight and keeping healthy.
Currently, you can count on a great variety of successful ketogenic meal plans. They will help you firmly hold to your resolution of being in ketosis, as you have judged or considered it an excellent decision for weight loss and weight regain avoidance in the long term.
How to make this ketogenic diet more profitable? Just by having enough sleep about 7 or 8 hours every day; by keeping your stress under control, taking care of or avoiding the cortisol effects. You´d better watch out having this “stress” hormone blocked. Also, by engaging in regular physical activity and reducing sedentary activities.
Through a ketogenic diet, you gain energy while burning fat. You have to be sure that you really are in a ketosis state. By being in this state, you will not only lose weight but also improve and strengthen your health as well as your wellbeing… It is another option for you!
Do not forget to apply, in your daily routines, all the recommendations and suggestions you have been provided by your clinician, applicable to your appropriate ketogenic diet. You will enjoy embarking on an extraordinary journey towards your best physical and emotional version of yourself.
I will appreciate your comments regarding the content I have shared with you.
- Wajeed Masood, and Kalyan R. Uppaluri. Ketogenic Diet. 2018. StatPearls.
- Hussein M Dashti, Thazhumpal C Mathew, Talib Hussein, Sami K Asfar, Abdulla Behbahani, Mousa A Khoursheed, Hilal M Al-Sayer, Yousef Y Bo-Abbas, Naji S Al-Zaid. Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2004; 9(3):200-205.
- Antonio Paoli. Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 2092-2107; doi:10.3390/ijerph110202092.
- Antonio Paoli, Gerardo Bosco, Enrico M. Camporesi, and Devanand Mangar. Ketosis, ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship. Frontiers in Psychology. February 2015. Volume 6. Article27. 1-9.
- Caryn Zinn, Matthew Wood, Mikki Williden, Simon Chatterton, and Ed Maunder. Ketogenic diet benefits body composition and well-being but not performance in a pilot case study of New Zealand endurance athletes. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2017) 14:22 DOI 10.1186/s12970-017-0180-0.
- Ana I. Castro, Diego Gomez-Arbelaez, Ana B. Crujeiras, Roser Granero, Zaida Aguera, Susana Jimenez-Murcia, Ignacio Sajoux, Patricio Lopez-Jaramillo, Fernando Fernandez-Aranda, and Felipe F. Casanueva. Effect of A Very Low-Calorie Ketogenic Diet on Food and Alcohol Cravings, Physical and Sexual Activity, Sleep Disturbances, and Quality of Life in Obese Patients. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1348; doi:10.3390/nu10101348.
- Caroline W. Cohen, Kevin R. Fontaine, Rebecca C. Arend, Taraneh Soleymani, and Barbara A. Gower. Favorable Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Physical Function, Perceived Energy, and Food Cravings in Women with Ovarian or Endometrial Cancer: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1187; doi:10.3390/nu10091187.
- Melanie McGrice, and Judi Porter. The Effect of Low Carbohydrate Diets on Fertility Hormones and Outcomes in Overweight and Obese Women: A Systematic Review. Nutrients 2017, 9, 204; doi:10.3390/nu9030204.
- David Jockers. Navigating the ketogenic diet for optimal health.
- Johanna T Dwyer, Kathleen J Melanson, Utchima Sriprachy-anunt, Paige Cross, and Madelyn Wilson. Dietary Treatment of Obesity.2015. Endotext.
Is a Ketogenic Diet for Women a Smart Choice for Weight Loss? Absolutely. From a more advantageous perspective
The Ketogenic Diet or Keto Diet predominantly comprises very-low-carbohydrates, moderate-proteins, and high-fats. Learn the benefits of Nutritional Ketosis to Lose Weight.
Aura T. Chavez Zobel
Aura T. Chavez Zobel