Some people find that adopting dietary and lifestyle changes helps them cope with the symptoms of menopause. However, there is no proof that the keto diet, in particular, is advantageous at this time.
Menopause is the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Perimenopause, the time before menopause, is when people begin to experience symptoms such as hot flashes and nocturnal sweats. This is caused by a decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels in the body.
Although no diet will prevent hormone levels from falling, dietary adjustments can help manage the symptoms that come with this shift. It’s unclear whether the keto diet can assist with this.
In this post, we’ll look at whether keto could be a good option for women approaching menopause, as well as the diet’s possible side effects and risks. We also take a look at different sorts of diets that may be useful.
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What is the keto diet?
The ketogenic (or keto) diet induces ketosis in the body. This indicates that the body burns fat for energy, converting it to ketones. It then substitutes these ketones for sucrose.
To enter ketosis, a person must cut carbohydrate consumption dramatically and replace it with fat. The keto diet usually consists of the following foods:
A person’s diet may include a variety of things. While in ketosis, they can eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and good fats, but they can also eat a lot of red meat and saturated fat.
Is the ketogenic diet beneficial to menopausal symptoms?
The keto diet may aid in weight loss, but its effects on other menopausal symptoms are less apparent.
Impact on weight gain
Some people gain weight during menopause, which might be due to changes in hormone levels and a slowed metabolism.
There hasn’t been any research done to see if the keto diet may help women maintain a healthy weight throughout menopause. A big 2017 research including approximately 89,000 females aged 49 to 81 years examined four diets to assess how effective they were. The researchers performed the following tests:
- a Mediterranean-style diet
- a diet consistent with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- a low fat diet
- a low carbohydrate diet
Researchers discovered that people who ate a low-carb diet had a decreased risk of postmenopausal weight gain than those who ate a high-carb diet.
The low carbohydrate diet in this trial, on the other hand, limited carbs to 163 grams (g) per day. The keto diet is far stricter than this, reducing carbs to less than 50 grams per day.
Impact on cravings
During perimenopause and menopause, people may notice an increase in appetite or food cravings. According to some study, the keto diet may assist with these symptoms by reducing appetite.
For example, a 2019 research looked at the keto diet and changes in appetite in 55 female and 40 male obese patients.
The female participants’ levels of the appetite-regulating hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 rose after 8 weeks of following the keto diet, according to the researchers. Surprisingly, the male participants’ levels of this hormone dropped.
The research did not, however, particularly look at appetite loss following menopause. The women in the study ranged in age from 18 to 65, so there was a mix of pre- and postmenopausal women.
Impact on insulin
Insulin sensitivity might decrease after menopause. Insulin is a hormone that helps sugar move from the circulation into cells. High blood sugar, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, can occur if someone does not make enough insulin.
The ketogenic diet may assist to keep insulin levels in check. Reduced carbohydrate consumption, according to studies, can lower insulin needs and improve insulin sensitivity.
Is keto beneficial for hormone balance?
The consequences of dropping estrogen and progesterone levels are unclear because there is no study on whether the keto diet supports or inhibits the balance of reproductive hormones after menopause.
Is it possible to get out of menopause with keto?
No, no diet, supplement, or medicine can make menopause go away or be reversed. It is a normal period of life in which the body produces less estrogen and progesterone.
Hormone treatment, on the other hand, can replenish the hormones that are being lost, which can help to ease symptoms.
Keto side effects
The keto diet might have negative side effects, especially when initially starting off. As the body enters ketosis, many people experience “keto flu,” a cluster of symptoms. These can include the following:
Following a ketogenic diet might make getting enough of key nutrients more difficult. Those who adopt a keto diet, for example, ingest less fiber, according to one study
In order to avoid carbs, people may consume less fruits and vegetables, which means they get fewer vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics. Beneficial bacteria in the gut are fed by prebiotic fiber.
Focusing on eating enough of fiber and fresh fruit while on the keto diet is one method to counteract this.
The keto diet’s long-term effects are still being studied, although research show there are certain risks.
The ketogenic diet may raise the risk of kidney stones. The prevalence of kidney stones in children who adopt a keto diet is roughly 5.8%, according to a study and meta-analysis published in 2021. Adults had a rate of 7.9%.
According to some research, the keto diet raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol.
One tiny study indicated that after three weeks on the keto diet, LDL cholesterol climbed by 39%. In addition, 59 percent of the participants in the research had LDL cholesterol levels that were greater than the amount advised for avoiding cardiovascular disease.
Menopause raises the risk of heart disease, thus adopting a keto diet while going through the process may increase the risk.
Menopause has an impact on bone health. Estrogen deficiency lowers bone mineral density, raising the risk of osteoporosis.
Ketosis was also connected to a reduction of bone density in a 2020 study that looked at the effects of a short-term keto diet. The study looked at 30 athletes who followed the diet for 3.5 weeks and discovered that they had less new bone development and more bone degradation.
Even after the patients returned to their typical diets, their capacity to manufacture healthy new bone did not return to normal, according to the researchers.
However, in this study, the majority of the athletes were male, with only five girls. The participants were 28 years old on average. More study is needed to determine how the keto diet may affect menopausal people.
Other diets for menopause
For many people, the keto diet entails significant adjustments, but there are alternative options that might assist in achieving or maintaining a healthy weight.
The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like olive oil and almonds. It prohibits the consumption of saturated fats, red meat, and alcoholic beverages.
Researchers discovered that the Mediterranean diet was not as successful for weight reduction as a low carbohydrate diet, but it was more effective than a low fat diet in a 2017 study comparing the Mediterranean diet to three other diet types in postmenopausal females.
In postmenopausal women, the Mediterranean diet was linked to better bone density and muscle mass, according to a research published in 2021.
Avoiding animal-derived foods in favor of plant-based foods is part of a plant-based diet. According to a 2018 study that compared perimenopausal and menopausal vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores, eating a diet rich in vegetables and low in meat was associated with fewer troublesome menopausal symptoms.
Similar findings were found in a 2012 study of nearly 17,000 postmenopausal women. Researchers urged 40 percent of the individuals to eat a low-fat diet with a higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
These individuals were three times more likely to lose weight and have menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats disappear.
A ketogenic diet consists of meals that are low in carbs, moderate in protein, and high in fat. It puts the body into ketosis, a weight-loss-friendly metabolic state.
The keto diet may assist with weight gain, which is one of the symptoms of menopause. However, a keto diet raises LDL cholesterol, which might be dangerous because menopause raises the risk of heart disease. A keto diet will not be able to reverse menopause, but it may help to alleviate its symptoms.
The Mediterranean diet and plant-based diets are two other diets that may aid women going through menopause. Before beginning any new diet, people should get medical advice.