Low carb diet plan for women will work for anyone who is serious about getting rid of unwanted fat in a short period of time. When used consistently with the right ingredients you will see amazing results. Each meal has been carefully constructed to deliver lean muscle stimulation while cutting your overall caloric intake down by half.
Many women have heard about low carb diets, but what is it and can these diets be effective for weight loss? Low carb diet plans are based on the fact that you should limit the intake of carbohydrates.
Low Carb Diet Plan For Women
How to avoid the pitfalls and side effects of a low-carb weight loss plan.
You’ve cleaned out those pantry closets, gone food shopping, and made the commitment. It’s official: you’re on a low-carb diet!
But while the road to a slimmer new you may be paved with high-protein foods, if you’re like most low-carbers it’s likely you’ve also encountered a few potholes along the way.
“Any time you make a fundamental change in your diet your body is going to react — and when it does you are bound to experience certain symptoms or problems,” says Stephen Sondike, MD, director of the Nutrition, Exercise, and Weight Management Program (NEW) at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
When that change involves reducing carbs, he says, among the most common problems is constipation.
“One of the primary places where you are going to see metabolic changes on any kind of diet is in your gastrointestinal tract — and that can include a change in bowel habits often experienced as constipation,” says Sondike, who is also credited with conducting the first published, randomized clinical trial on low-carb diets. The reason, Sondike tells WebMD, is that most folks get whatever fiber they consume from high-carb foods such as bread and pasta. Cut those foods out, and your fiber intake can drop dramatically, while the risk of constipation rises.
“However, if you really follow a low-carb diet correctly, you will be replacing those starchy foods with low-carb, high-fiber vegetables — which should help counter the constipation by providing as much, if not more fiber, than you had before,” says Sondike.
Doctors say that eating up to five servings of low-carb vegetables daily — foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce — can keep your bowels healthy without interfering with weight loss.
If it’s still not doing the trick, Sondike says a fiber supplement — such as Metameucil or FiberCon can help.
“The one thing I would not do is start taking laxatives — adding more fiber to your diet is definitely a smarter and healthier way to deal with the problem,” says Doris Pasteur, MD, director of the Nutrition Wellness program at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
A low-carb diet can help you lose weight because it turns on fat-burning processes, known as “dietary ketosis.” These ketones are also thought to have an appetite suppressant effect.
However, Pasteur says that when large amounts of ketones are produced, your body can become quickly dehydrated — another problem faced by those on a low-carb diet.
The solution: Drink more water.
“The lower your carb intake, the greater your risk of dehydration and subsequently the greater your need for water,” says Pasteur. Most low-carb diet experts suggest drinking at least 2 quarts of water daily.
In addition to keeping you adequately hydrated — which can also help alleviate constipation — drinking lots of water can also help offset still another low-carb diet problem: bad breath. The ketones produced during the diet can lead to what is sometimes described as a fruity odor although it is often described as having an almost “chemical” odor similar to acetone or nail polish remover.
Now if you’re thinking you’ll just handle the problem by brushing and flossing a little more often, guess again. Since the breath odor is coming from metabolic changes and not necessarily a dental-related condition, traditional breath products are not likely to provide long-lasting relief. On the other hand drinking more water intake can do the trick.
“The water helps dilute the ketones in your system, and while that won’t affect weight loss, it will help with the bad breath,” says Sondike.
Low Carbs and Supplements
The lower your intake of carbohydrates, the greater your need for a vitamin supplement. That’s the mantra that most doctors now recommend that everyone on a low-carb diet should never forget.
The reason? Any time you restrict your diet, particularly in terms of certain food groups, your nutrient levels can drop. But when your diet is low carb, experts say you may be in even greater need for certain key vitamins and minerals, particularly folic acid.
“If you’re cutting out cereals, fruits, vegetables, fortified grains, then you are cutting out your major source of folic acid, a B vitamin that is not only important when you are pregnant, but important to everyone’s overall health,” says NYU nutritionist Samantha Heller.
What’s more, says Heller, folic acid is key to controlling levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory factor linked to heart disease. If you’re already at risk for cardiovascular problems, she says, dropping folic acid levels too low could put your health at serious risk.
One way to protect yourself, she says, is to take a B vitamin supplement — with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
“All of the B vitamins work together in a very complicated metabolic pathway and they need each other — so if you are not going to get your source in foods, then a vitamin supplement is a must,” says Heller.
Sondike agrees and says that, “Any time you are on a weight-loss diet you need a good multivitamin, regardless of whether you are limiting your carbohydrate intake or not,” he says.
Although there has been some evidence that a low-carb diet can also take its toll on calcium levels, Sondike says that fortunately, this is usually only on a short-term basis.
“Your body will often shift metabolism when you do something different to it — but it equalizes — you see a rapid shift and a return to normal — and the longer-term studies show normal results in this area,” says Sondike. Still, he tells WebMD it’s a “smart idea” to take a calcium supplement beginning at the start of your low-carb diet to safeguard against a possible deficiency. Tofu can also be a good source of calcium.
Another mineral you may want to supplement is potassium. While there is no concrete evidence that a dramatic potassium loss occurs on a low-carb regimen, Sondike says to ensure against problems he recommends patients use Morton’s Light Salt — a potassium chloride product that he says can add back any of this important mineral that’s lost. Eating a few almonds is also a good way to supplement this mineral without adding carbs to your diet.
Finally, if you stick to your low-carb diet via the use of prepackaged foods, experts say read the label carefully to avoid ingredients that are notoriously responsible for gastrointestinal upsets, and especially excess gas. Among the worst offenders: sugar alcohol, found in sweeteners such as sorbitol.
“Anything above 10 grams or more of sorbitol at a time has been shown to cause gastrointestinal upset — and some of these low-carb diet foods have as much as 30 grams a serving,” says Heller. While it won’t make you violently ill, she says, it can make you — and those in the same room — pretty uncomfortable.
Sondike agrees and also cautions us to “read the labels.”
“If a product is advertised as having 3 net carbs but the label says 35 grams of carbs, then it’s likely that 32 grams are sugar alcohol — and it’s probably going to upset your stomach,” says Sondike.
The Ultimate Guide To Keto For Women
Many people have adopted the Keto diet intending to lose weight, feel better, and improve overall health. Naturally, many of these adopters are women.
Keto has worked for a lot of women. No controversy there. You see this in news stories, published science, and in the Carb Manager community.
But Keto has also worked for a lot of men. So are there meaningful differences in how men and women respond to low-carb diets?
Occasionally, yes. While most Keto benefits (and risks) are gender blind, others are specific to women.
What Is Keto?
When someone says they’re going “Keto,” it means they’re going to try a Keto diet.
The Keto diet (short for ketogenic diet) is a high-fat, low-carb eating regimen in which you consume 55-70% of your calories from fat, 20-35% from protein, and less than 10% from carbohydrates. Keeping your macros in these ratios helps unlock the fat-burning state called ketosis.
Alongside increasing healthy fats, carb restriction is key to Keto. Carb restriction keeps the hormone insulin low, which in turn helps you access stored body fat. Once accessed, that fat then heads to the liver for conversion to energy and ketones.[*]
In other words, Keto gets you running on fat from both your diet and body stores for energy. Moving into this state of ketosis may help with fat loss, increased energy, mental sharpness, improved metabolic health, and reduced inflammation. We’ll explore these benefits more in a moment.
Does Keto Work the Same for Men and Women?
In many ways, it does. Both men and women have the same fat-burning machinery—the same ability to produce ketones as discussed above.
But not everything is the same. Depending on where she is in life, a woman will have different nutritional considerations than a man.
Much of this difference relates to fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. All of these situations require a surplus of nutrients to either:
- Prepare a woman’s body to get pregnant
- Nourish the fetus while pregnant
- Nourish the baby while breastfeeding
Where does Keto come in? Due to its satiating nature, it’s easy to under-eat calories on Keto, even if you’re not consciously limiting portions. This may be problematic for a premenopausal woman trying to stay fertile or taking care of her baby.
But this isn’t true across the board. For instance, reducing carbs has been shown to help overweight women with PCOS improve their hormonal health.
The point is that Keto doesn’t affect all women equally. We’ll touch more on the risks of going Keto—and how to mitigate them—later.
Top 10 Benefits of Keto for Women
Both men and women have the ability to burn fat and produce ketones (to enter ketosis) when carbs are scarce. And so besides PCOS (#10), most of these benefits apply to both sexes.
#1: Weight loss
Weight loss is the main reason people go Keto. It can be an effective way to eat less, burn fat, and shed pounds.
Here are some Keto weight loss studies specific to women:
- Obese women on a Keto diet lost more weight than women on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet. (Both groups ate about the same amount, but the Keto women didn’t intentionally restrict calories).
- Overweight women with PCOS lost an average of 21 pounds after 12 weeks of Keto dieting.
- Women with endometrial or ovarian cancer lost 16% more visceral fat (belly fat) on a Keto diet vs. a high-fiber, low-fat diet.
#2: More stable energy
By limiting carbs on Keto, you limit fluctuations in your blood sugar. And when your blood sugar stays more stable, your energy stays more stable.
Fat-adapting on Keto also unlocks the sustainable energy source lining your body: body fat.
#3: Fewer cravings
Being in ketosis has been shown to reduce hunger hormones like ghrelin and neuropeptide Y. Less hunger means less overeating, and less overeating can mean less weight gain.
#4: Diabetes therapy
According to a recent consensus report, low-carb diets are the intervention with the “most evidence” for reducing high blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
In one study sponsored by Virta Health, a two-year supervised low-carb diet intervention showed great promise in treating diabetes. In the study of 218 participants, 53% achieved sub-diabetic blood sugar levels while eliminating all but one medication, and 17% achieved sub-diabetic blood sugar levels while eliminating all medications. More than half of the participants were female.
#5: Mental sharpness
When you burn fat on Keto, you produce molecules called ketones. Ketones then fuel the brain with clean, efficient energy.
In older adults, eating a Ketogenic meal boosted ketone levels and led to better mental performance.
#6: Potential cancer treatment
A Keto diet has the potential to help treat certain cancers by starving cancer cells of their favorite food: glucose. Keto may also help reduce cancer growth factors like insulin and IGF-1.
One study, for instance, found that a Keto diet reduced insulin and IGF-1 levels in women with endometrial or ovarian cancer.
More research is on the way. For example, multiple clinical trials are ongoing on Keto for breast cancer.
#7: Brain health
Researchers are also exploring Keto as a therapy for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Why? Because as the brain ages, it becomes less and less adept at running on glucose, but it doesn’t lose its ability to run on ketones.
#8: Lower inflammation
The low-grade immune activation known as chronic inflammation is linked to nearly every modern disease. Keto may help control this damaging process:
- By reducing the risk of proinflammatory high blood sugar
- By increasing our sensitivity to adenosine, an anti-inflammatory chemical[*][*]
- By suppressing inflammatory signaling molecules
Less inflammation may lower the risk for chronic disease.
When you burn fat for fuel, you can go longer on your own energy supply. That’s called being “fat-adapted” or “Keto-adapted,” and it can help fuel endurance exercise.
In 1980, Dr. Stephen Phinney found that a ketogenic diet nearly doubled the time obese people could walk on a treadmill. Since then, many endurance athletes (both men and women) have reported success with Keto.
#10: PCOS therapy
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. The symptoms include enlarged ovaries, higher male sex hormones, and menstrual disturbances.
In one 2020 study, a Mediterranean Keto diet caused significant fat loss and favorable sex hormone shifts in 14 women with PCOS. A few earlier low-carb studies have found similar results.
Keto for Women: Risks and Who Should Avoid It
Some gender-neutral risks of going Keto include:
- Increased LDL cholesterol. This increase in heart disease risk factors occurs in a subset of Keto dieters. Work with your doctor to monitor your cholesterol on Keto.
- Keto flu. Many people experience headaches, brain fog, constipation, and muscle cramps when transitioning to Keto. Learn how to avoid these Keto flu symptoms here.
- Athletic difficulties. Intense exercise requires glucose (from carbs) as fuel, and Keto doesn’t provide many carbs. People often report exercise difficulties in the early days of Keto, but they usually resolve with time.
And some groups may want to skip Keto altogether, including:
- Pregnant and nursing women
- People with trouble digesting fat (any issues with the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas)
- People with kidney failure
- Those with familial hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)
- Those with eating disorders
- Growing children
For women specifically, Keto probably isn’t the best diet for conception, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. The research is too limited and the potential for unintentional calorie restriction is too high.
Top Keto Supplements for Women
While you should strive to get your nutrition from food, it’s not always possible. Consider these 6 supplements to augment your Keto diet:
- Electrolytes (sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium, and magnesium)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA)
- Vitamin D
- MCT oil
- Exogenous ketones
- Greens powder
Also, note that pregnant and nursing women should kick up their nutrient intake to nourish the baby. A well-formulated prenatal multivitamin should have plenty of folate, vitamin A, vitamin D, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, selenium, iron (for pregnancy only), and zinc to address these increased needs.
How To Start Keto for Women
Here are 7 tips to get your Keto lifestyle running smoothly.
#1: Eat enough calories
This is especially important for women of reproductive age. A woman’s fertility is susceptible to calorie restriction, and Keto is a highly satiating diet.
Don’t gorge yourself. Just eat until you’re full. The fat-burning magic will work primarily on its own.
#2: Be careful with fasting
This goes with tip #1. Intermittent fasting may help with weight loss and metabolic health, but it’s wise to go Keto first before you start fasting. Starting both at once may be too much.
#3: Allow transition time
Fat-adaptation doesn’t happen overnight. If possible, give your fat-burning machinery a few weeks to rev up before you decide if Keto is right for you.
#4: Take electrolytes
Keto flu is often a case of electrolyte deficiency. Taking electrolytes (especially sodium) can help prevent these undesirable symptoms.
#5: Prioritize nutrient-dense foods
Fat bombs may be tasty, but they aren’t the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Look to whole foods like eggs, leafy greens, fish, avocados, and meat to keep your body humming along like the beautiful machine that it is.
#6: Get enough protein.
If you don’t eat enough protein, your exercise recovery and lean mass will suffer. And contrary to popular belief, high-protein Keto diets are perfectly compatible with weight loss.
The other main macro to track is carbs, but you already knew that. Make tracking Keto macros easy with the Carb Manager app.
Is Low Carb Diet Best For PCOS?
Yes, it is. For women dealing with this endocrine condition better known as polycystic ovary syndrome, a low carbohydrate diet is often recommended to them. But in a world full of different diets for weight loss and better health, why is low carb diet so good for weight loss? What sets this specific type of meal plan apart from all the rest?
Here are some reasons why
- It Can Lead To Weight Loss And Help With Insulin Resistance
While not all women who deal with PCOS end up becoming overweight and obese, a good percentage of them often have to deal with the issue of sudden weight gain. This weight gain is caused by the body’s inability to process insulin and use glucose.
Over the years, several studies have show that women with PCOS on low carb diets have not only been able to lose the excess weight, but their insulin sensitivity has gotten better
- In 2005, a study was conducted by the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism to find out the effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on women with polycystic ovary syndrome. The women in the study were instructed to eat no more than 20 grams of carbs a day for 24 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that the women who stuck it out and followed the instructions not only lost weight, but the levels of testosterone and fasting insulin in their bodies also reduced significantly.
- In 2015, the Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy conducted a study to find out how a low carb diet would work on women with PCOS. For a period of 8 weeks 24 overweight and obese women ate a low starch/low dairy diet. At the end of the study period, researchers found that this low-starch/low-dairy diet resulted in weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity and reduced testosterone in women with PCOS.
- In 2019, the International Journal of Endocrinology conducted a review of several studies to assess the effect of a low carbohydrate diet on women with polycystic ovary syndrome. After the review they found out that this diet not only helped with the reduction of BMI, and a decrease of levels of total testosterone level, but also with treatment of PCOS with insulin resistance.
Irregular periods are one of the most common symptoms of this endocrine condition. Luckily, a low carb diet for PCOS can potentially help women have more regular periods. In 2010, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, took 96 overweight and obese premenopausal women with PCOS and put them in a study to help the better understand which diet worked best for them.
At the end of the study, the women who ate a low carbohydrate diet noticed a 95% improvement in their menstrual cyclicity as compared to the 63% improvement that was seen in those who ate a macronutrient-matched healthy diet.