A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO THE KETOGENIC DIET

A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO THE KETOGENIC DIET 

Our health and the wellbeing of the body depend a lot on what we eat. The ketogenic diet has gained immense popularity in recent years and has been used by many people for weight management strategies, to support mental clarity, and enhance overall wellbeing. In this blog, we dive into the fundamental principles of the ketogenic diet and explore how women can optimise their experience with this low-carb, high-fat approach.

THE KETOGENIC DIET

A healthy lifestyle, regular physical activity and a balanced diet are the main pillars of our psychophysical wellbeing. In some cases, however, despite a correct diet, our body does not react to stimuli as we would like. This is the case, for example, during the menopause, a delicate period during which, due to the drop in oestrogen, women are subject to changes in weight as well as mood. In this phase of life, the ketogenic diet, a strict dietary regimen in which carbohydrates are severely reduced in favour of proteins and fats, may be useful. This allows the body to reach so-called ketosis in 48/72 hours, a process whereby glycogen reserves (storage sugar) are exhausted and ketones, which are produced in the liver, are used to meet the energy demands of the nervous system.

Usually, our functional cells use the energy provided by carbohydrates to perform their tasks. In their absence they use ketones as their main energy fuel. In this case, the metabolism changes and is forced to use fats instead of carbohydrates as an engine and alternative source of energy.

The keto diet is a low-carb, low-calorie diet high in protein and good fats rich in omega-3, which must be included to maintain the state of ketosis. It provides a daily intake of 1200 calories per day, which can become as high as 800-900 in the Very Low Calories Keto Diet.

The food intake should be broken down as follows

  • Carbohydrates at 10%, divided into three portions

  • Protein between 15% and 25%

  • Fat between 70% and 75%

FOODS TO INCLUDE

Protein: red meat, white meat, eggs, fish

Fats: extra virgin olive oil and healthy fats

Low carb vegetables: green leaf, cabbage, broccoli, courgettes, mushrooms etc.

FOODS TO AVOID 

Sugary foods: sugar, fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit juices, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, 

Starchy carbs: potatoes, sweet potatoes, cereals, legumes

Your nutritionist can help advise you on a suitable menu depending on your gender, age, weight and health characteristics of the patient.

ADVANTAGES OF A KETO DIET

  • fast results

  • weight loss

  • improved mood

  • reduction of hunger pangs

  • stabilising insulin and blood glucose levels 

When is a keto diet not suitable? 

Maintaining ketosis for long periods of time may create serious problems in the long term. And even in the short term ketosis may have some complications such as signs of liver and kidney fatigue, nausea, constipation, fatigue and nutrient deficiencies (calcium, vitamin D, iron, magnesium and folic acid). When following this type of diet, therefore, it must be well supplemented with minerals and vitamins to avoid dehydration, among other things.

Once the restrictive cycle is over, it is necessary to re-educate the body to eat everything, gradually reintroducing foods in a precise order and controlled portion sizes, starting first with low-glycemic foods: fruit, then cheese, to continue with legumes and finally bread, pasta and cereals. 

This type of diet must be very strict otherwise ketosis may not activate in the presence of even a minimal carbohydrate input from which to draw energy. A ketogenic diet should be avoided in pregnancy and during lactation.

DIFFERENT EFFECTS OF THE KETOGENIC DIET ON MEN AND WOMEN

A study at the University of Iowa by Dr E. Dale Abel, Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine, has shown that the ketogenic diet shows variations in results between men and women. Men seem to be able to lose weight more easily by following this diet. According to the research, the female hormone oestrogen makes the difference, in the absence of oestrogen the slimming effect seems to be much more noticeable. Moreover, women seem to have more difficulty losing weight than men because they have a more complex regulation of blood sugar. This is why, once again, a ketogenic diet is a useful diet during the menopause and post-menopause, as there is a drop in oestrogen during this period. There is also an increase in the weight of fat mass as well as the probable onset of insulin resistance (a risk factor for type 2 diabetes) and the risk of vascular disease. 

THE ROLE OF SUPPLEMENTS

The ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting are effective nutritional strategies but are not  without their drawbacks. They may lead to more or less serious deficiencies, so it’s necessary to supplement correctly in order to maintain body balance.

Neutrient Magnesium is a highly effective formula containing a unique blend of four potent bioactive magnesium chelates (magnesium taurate, magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium citrate and magnesium malate) alongside magnesium oxide, providing the best magnesium efficacy by using multiple cellular absorption pathways. Magnesium helps reduce tiredness and fatigue and helps rebalance the nervous system.

Magnesium deficiency is very common and with the ketogenic diet, values may be lowered even further due to the strict diet regime. Together with the stress of our hectic days, often also characterised by sleep disturbances or anxious periods, magnesium is supportive for mood and mindset and very stimulating when dieting to achieve set goals.

The daily intake dose should be 375 mg per day. Neutrient Magnesium provides 244 mg per 2 capsules, according to the maximum safe supplementation threshold.

Neutrient Butterfat Keto is a mixture for burning fat faster as MCT is rapidly converted into ketones to act as an energy reserve fuel, without being stored as fat.

Following somewhat restrictive diets may be a good way to support body changes, but we must always take care to provide the right supplementation to avoid imbalances and achieve mental and physical balance.

About the author

Dott.ssa Mariachiara Ruggiero

Sociologist & Victory Mental Performance Coach

Victory Mental Performance Coaching – The art of enhancing the mind and turning doubts and anxieties that hinder performance into strengths and motivators.

REFERENCES

  • Ketogenic Diet – Wajeed Masood; Pavan Annamaraju; Kalyan R. Uppaluri

  • Caron JP, Kreher MA, Mickle AM, Wu S, Przkora R, Estores IM, Sibille KT. Intermittent Fasting: Potential Utility in the Treatment of Chronic Pain across the Clinical Spectrum. Nutrients. 2022 Jun 18;14(12):2536. doi: 10.3390/nu14122536. PMID: 35745266; PMCID: PMC9228511

  • Ford C, Chang S, Vitolins MZ, Fenton JI, Howard BV, Rhee JJ, Stefanick M, Chen B,Snetselaar L, Urrutia R, Frazier-Wood AC. Evaluation of diet pattern and weight gain inpostmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study

  • Duval K, Prud’homme D, Rabasa-Lhoret R, Strychar I, Brochu M, Lavoie JM, Doucet E.Effects of the menopausal transition on dietary intake and appetite: a MONET Group Study 

  • Females respond poorly to ketogenic weight loss diet in an animal model | Endocrine Society