What the Keto Diet Does to a Woman’s Body
Keto is not a one-size-fits-all diet – especially where women are concerned.
The Keto craze has taken the diet world by storm, and even some of America’s most popular doctors are on board. Joseph Mercola, MD, Josh Axe, DC, and Eric Berg, DC are singing the praises of the severely carb-restricted and high fat keto diet and how much weight people are losing. And while it’s true that many women are experiencing dramatic weight loss, there is an astounding number of women who aren’t.
If you find yourself among the women who are experiencing fatigue, bloating, hair loss, constipation, insomnia, stalled weight loss and more, you’ve likely been told it’s insulin resistance or adrenal fatigue – not keto. While those are common causes of these issues, there’s more they’re not telling you about what keto is doing to your body, and why women are struggling with it.
Women are not at a metabolic disadvantage. There’s nothing inherently wrong with your body that keeps you from losing weight or responding to a high fat, severely carb-restricted diet like keto. Over my 4 decades in the field of nutrition, I’ve met countless women like you, who feel like their weight won’t budge – matter what they try. Fortunately – for them and for you – I’ve done the research and unlocked the secrets to healthy, lasting weight loss for even the slowest of losers. But, before we get into that, let’s look at what keto really does to a woman’s body.
Carbs Are Not Your Worst Enemy
If you are on the keto diet and find yourself irritable, tired, and feeling like you can’t handle stress of any kind, then your body may be trying to tell you it needs more healthy carbs. You are likely in what I call hormone havoc – your stress hormones, sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and blood sugar balancing hormones are all out of whack and crying out for the nutrient-rich carbs they need.
Women, more than men, need low glycemic, nutrient-rich, complex carbs to keep hormone levels steady and balanced. Your digestion needs more fiber-rich carbs to keep it moving consistently, and your body is so busy breaking everything down from being in ketosis that it’s even breaking down lean muscle mass – the very thing you are trying to build.
The right carbs are not your mortal enemy. One thing I’ve learned over the past 40 years studying nutrition is that successful, healthy weight loss does not come from eliminating an entire food group from your diet. When I started in this field, the low fat craze was just building momentum, and I saw many women become obese and suffer with diabetes and heart disease. I’ve watched the low fat wave crest and then fall with emerging research that proved we need fats for brain health and so much more.
Fats have now gone from super-villain to superhero, so we looked for a new villain to fill the void – carbs. The problem is, when you go very low carb, your body thinks it’s starving. This starvation mode is the very thing that triggers the release of ketones and causes you to lose weight – but your hormone balance suffers as a result.
Keto Causes Hormone Havoc
Here’s the “Catch 22” with keto – the very mechanism that causes your body to dramatically shed weight also slows the production of all of your important hormones. The hypothalamus in your brain controls your hormone balance. When your carb intake is low, your body sees that as a type of starvation and this causes the hypothalamus to send signals that lower several types of hormones, creating hormone havoc throughout your body:
Sex hormones: Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels drop, causing changes to your monthly cycle, decrease in your libido, increase in belly fat, mood swings, fatigue, decrease fertility, and so much more. These hormones also affect your blood sugar balance and your stress hormone production, because they all feedback to the hypothalamus and interact with each other. This causes a cascade that leads to worse hormone havoc.
Thyroid hormones: Your thyroid gland is the master regulator of your metabolism, and produces several hormones that have a dramatic effect on the speed and efficiency of your metabolism. When your carb intake drops too low, the hypothalamus signals your thyroid to decrease the production of T3, an important metabolic regulating hormone. It also signals the conversion of T3 into reverse T3, which puts your metabolism into “hibernation mode,” where everything slows down and what you eat is stored as fat, with very few calories used for energy production.
Blood Sugar Balancing hormones: When you lower your carb intake, your insulin and leptin levels drop accordingly. When these drop into the normal range, you experience healthy weight loss, but dropping too much causes problems, especially when it comes to insulin.
Insulin is crucial for maintaining muscle mass. When insulin drops with carb restriction, it triggers you to break down muscle to release the sugars stored as glycogen inside of them, to be used for fuel. The end result is loss of lean muscle mass, which is what you actually want to be building when you lose weight. Healthy carb intake is the difference between being in a catabolic state, where everything is being broken down, and an anabolic state, where your muscles are being fed and built up.
Stress hormones: A carb-restricted diet like keto is stressful for your body not only because of the starvation mode it activates, but also because of the cascade of hormone-lowering reactions it causes. If you don’t get enough carbs while under stress, your stress hormone production goes up – as long as you have enough nutrients to meet the higher production needs. But, stress hormones like cortisol need nutrient-rich carbs to be produced in adequate amounts.
When stress hormone production suffers, so does your immunity, and you become susceptible to colds, flus, and worse immune issues. Stress hormone balance is tricky, and hormones like cortisol feedback to the hypothalamus, sending signals that worsen the hormone havoc already happening from carb restriction. You develop what’s called adrenal fatigue, which is where that wired-but-tired feeling comes from that makes you feel tired during the day and awake at night, unable to sleep.
Your Digestion Needs Carbs
If you’ve experienced bloating, constipation, or IBS-type symptoms while on keto, your body is telling you it needs more fiber-rich carbs. The fiber in healthy carbs not only provides the bulk you need for healthy bowel movements, it also binds toxins and sweeps them out like “nature’s broom” to eliminate them from your body.
These fiber-rich carbs also feed the healthy bacteria in your gut microbiome. Researchers have found that there are bacteria strains that signal you to gain weight. These bacteria are found in abundance in the digestive tracts of people who are experiencing famine, as a protective mechanism to keep them from starving. Feeding your healthy probiotic bacteria the carbs they need to increase their population, not only helps them to crowd out the unhealthy and fat-promoting strains of bacteria, but also boosts your immune system.
It’s Time for Women to Get Radical
While there are unhealthy versions of each of the macronutrients, the truth is, we need them all – fats, carbs, and proteins – from the right sources and in balanced amounts. If you want increased energy, better hormone balance, great digestion, optimal metabolism, and good health all the way to the cellular level, then it’s time to get Radical.
My Radical Metabolism plan was created for women like you – fat and fatigued, with a sluggish metabolism. My plan guides you into a healthy lifestyle with smart carbs, healthy fats, and the right proteins. It not only helps you lose those stubborn pounds once and for all, it also teaches you how to live a healthy lifestyle you can thrive with – and have your coffee, tea, and daily dessert, too!
In Radical Metabolism, you’ll discover how to get the benefits of a keto diet without being keto. You’ll find tips such as why you might want to trade your coconut (or olive) oil for hemp seed oil… why Uni Key’s Bile Builder should be your new BFF (this is a MUST for anyone without a gallbladder) … along with delicious recipes you can incorporate NOW to speed up weight loss without endangering your health (our Mocha Chai Breakfast Pudding recipe is an all-time favorite!).
Have you snagged your copy of Radical Metabolism yet? How is it working for you? Your feedback is appreciated.