Menopause is the natural biological process experienced by women when they stop menstruating for 12 months straight and when reproductive hormones are no longer produced by the body. This is a physically stressful ordeal during which women undergo several bodily changes. Weight gain is caused by several factors during menopause: hormonal fluctuations, loss of muscle mass, insulin resistance and poor sleeping habits.
Symptoms include mood changes and hot flashes, among others. Diets to correct hormonal imbalances and reduce discomfort are prescribed by medical professionals. One of the recommended diets for menopausal women is the well-known ketogenic diet, which is a low-carb, high-fat diet.
However, there are side effects that could accompany the diet. According to a recent article on Healthline, there are a few positives and negatives to adapting the keto diet after or during the sensitive phase of menopause.
Decreases Insulin Sensitivity
Low-fat diets and low-carb diets were compared in people who had both type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to a study led by Harvard Medical School. While the low-fat diets protect heart health only, the low-carb diets helped reduce many things: insulin sensitivity, parameters indicating glycemic index, HDL and body weight. Maintaining the diet for the long run remains a challenge for many, however.
The study only analyzed the benefits of insulin sensitivity in people following the ketogenic diet, and did not analyzez postmenopausal and perimenopausal women’s response. There is no study to say that menopausal women in particular can reduce insulin resistance by consuming the keto diet.
A study was conducted by University of Melbourne on 39 obese subjects who were made to follow the keto diet for eight weeks to understand if the diet helped regulate appetite. Once the cycle of eight weeks ended, the regular diet was reintroduced to them for two weeks.
When the researchers measured the parameters of the participants after eight weeks, they found that leptin, the hormone that inhibits hunger, was present in larger quantities compared to ghrelin, the hormone that activates hunger. Furthermore, glucose was lower in participants after comparisons were made to the results after two weeks of following the normal diet.
Increases Cortisol And Estrogen
When carbohydrates are cut out of the diet drastically, it puts a strain on the body and increases the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. High cortisol levels have a bad side effect on women going through menopause: increase in estrogen levels.
This causes an imbalance between the amounts of estrogen versus progesterone, the two important sex hormones. When a woman’s body makes both estrogen and cortisol in high amounts, it suppresses the thyroid hormone and leads to weight gain. Therefore, weight loss, which is touted as the benefit of the keto diet, does not hold true, as per several studies.
Causes Keto Flu
The inevitable side effects of the keto diet, collectively known as the keto flu, could worsen the symptoms of menopause. These include hair loss, mood changes, irregular sleep and fatigue.