The ketogenic diet is relatively safe as long as it follows the guidelines set by a dietician or licensed physician. However, some skeptics claim that this type of diet is unsafe for women, given that their hormones are sensitive to changes in the diet. So, how does keto for women work, and what are the tips to avoid side effects associated with the diet?
Overview: Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet limits the intake of carbohydrates and heightens the ratio of protein and fat consumed. Such a diet puts the body in a state of ketosis where the body burns fat and protein instead of carbohydrates for fuel. This is great for individuals hoping to lose weight or those who want to reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes.
The fat that is burned produces ketone bodies that help lower blood sugar levels and heighten the effects of weight loss. Apart from dramatic weight loss, the keto diet offers the following benefits.
- Improves Mental Focus and Clarity
- Raises Levels of Good Cholesterol
- Raises Levels of Triglycerides
- Reduces High Blood Pressure
Possible Side Effects
Diet changes are likely to lead to possible side effects since the body goes through an adaptation period. A ketogenic diet subjects the body to a tremendous transformation since instead of burning carbs for energy, it resorts to burning protein and fat. Thus, the body is likely to go through a keto-flu, which is manifested by nausea and vomiting, constipation, irritability, weakness, and headache. The symptoms usually last for a week and is a sign that the diet is working. However, if the signs extend for more than a week, then it is best to discontinue the diet and seek the aid of a medical professional.
Other side effects noted with the keto diet include the risk of getting heart and kidney damage. An individual may also experience sleep issues, decreased bone density, irregular menstrual cycles, constipation, fatigue, and bad breath.
Methods to Overcome Adverse Reactions
Avoid the side effects linked with a keto diet by following the methods mentioned below.
1. Consume Alkaline-Rich Food
Low-carb and alkalizing food choices such as veggies and fruits help prevent the side effects associated with a keto diet, especially for women. It is recommended to add nutrient-dense food such as dark, leafy greens or avocadoes. Other low-carb food that is alkaline-rich includes the following.
- Herbs and Non-Starchy Vegetables (Mushroom, Cabbage, Asparagus, Ginger, Garlic)
- Greens (Wheat Grass, Beet Greens, Kale, Chard, Spinach, Dandelion, Alfalfa Grass)
- Superfoods (Sea Veggies, Spirulina, Maca)
- Keto-Friendly Fat (MCT Oil, Coconut Oil, Virgin Olive Oil)
Also, opt for alkaline water that falls between 9 to 11 pH. This is a better option compared to purified bottled water or tap water which could be acidic.
2. Get Enough Rest
Hormonal imbalances are not only dependent on dietary changes. It may also be in part to emotional and physical stress. Try to get some shut-eye for at least six to eight hours each night. Also, manage your stress by avoiding stressful situations or practicing meditation or yoga.
3. Drink More Water and Eat More Fiber
A body that finds it difficult to adjust to a new diet is in dire need of water and fiber. Always start the day with a big glass of water. You may even add a pinch of cayenne pepper and lemon. Consume veggies and fruits that are rich in fiber, but make sure these are keto-friendly.
4. Try Carb Cycling
Practice crescendo fasting, or what is referred to as intermittent fasting on the ketogenic diet. This gives you a break from the strict keto practices but still, achieves its benefits. Also, make it a habit of checking your ketone levels with either a blood ketone strip or a urine ketone strip.
How to Make It Work?
So, how does one make keto for women work without the possible risks or side effects associated with it? Here are just a few things you should consider.
1. Consume More Fat
During the first week of keto, take note that fat is your friend. Eat more of it during the first week so that you get all the nutrients and energy you need. Consuming less than the recommended amount will likely result in hormonal problems and immense stress. Some fat that is advised to be consumed on a keto diet includes extra virgin oil, marine fat, and palmitoleic acid. Go for anglerfish liver, mac nuts, whale blubber, or sea buckthorn berries as well.
2. Avoid Fat Bombs
While pointer number one did mention that you should consume more fat, it does not mean you should include fat bombs. Some fat bombs simply offer all the calories without the nutrients. If you do plan to consume fat bombs, then opt for those made from the following.
- Pork Rinds
- Nut Butter
- Seaweed and Tuna
- Vegetable-Loaded (Tomatoes, Peppers, Herbs, Garlic, Avocados)
- Egg Yolks
- Soft Boiled Eggs
3. Stop Restricting Calories
While the calories in a keto diet are restricted, don’t go overboard! Eat until you feel full, and stop the habit of counting calories. Remember that you are eating until you no longer feel hungry—not when you’re about to explode.
4. Consume More Carbs
This is a bit ironic given a keto diet does limit the number of carbohydrates. However, completely cutting it out, cold turkey is bound to put your body into overdrive and heighten the risk of experiencing side effects. Stick to at least 30 grams of carbohydrates in a day. This amount is just appropriate to put the body in a state of ketosis. However, if you are physically active, then you may need more than only 30 grams daily.
5. Stick to the Protein Percentage
The body burns up fat and protein in place of carbs in a ketogenic diet, but that does not mean you should limit the amount of protein consumed in a day. Stick to the recommended percent or ratio of protein in the keto food pyramid. The structure goes as 70 percent fats, 25 percent protein, and five percent carbohydrates.