The benefits of the keto diet and intermittent fasting are virtually immeasurable. And although there has been some questioning as to whether or not they are safe for women, there is evidence to not only suggest they are safe, but also to show that women can benefit tremendously from them.
What is the keto diet?
The keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that keeps blood sugar and insulin levels at a steady, low level. It shifts your metabolism from burning glucose to burning fat and puts you in a metabolic state of ketosis.
The ketogenic diet is nothing new. It’s been around since the 1920s when it was used by doctors to treat epilepsy. It’s recently gained a lot of attention as people now are realizing its numerous benefits beyond treating epilepsy and diabetes. In fact, about twenty years ago, a boxing coach I had put me on a ketogenic diet – but didn’t actually call it that, but gave me a meal plan that he said would put my body in ketosis…and looking back, that was the one time in my life that I was able to experience rapid weight loss! But then I had my children, fell out of that workout routine and pretty much forgot about that meal plan.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating and then not eating for a set amount of time. Time spent fasting can vary for different people. For some, it just means not eating after dinner and skipping breakfast. However you decide to do it, it can offer many benefits.
The Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting, Combined
The keto diet and intermittent fasting can be easily combined, and is an ideal combo for women on a keto diet. When you’re already following a ketogenic diet and your body is used to burning fat, it makes fasting a lot easier and you’ll be able to take advantage of the benefits of fasting more quickly.
Another bonus from combining the two is that when your body is burning fat instead of glucose, you can go a longer time period without hunger. When your body is used to using glucose for fuel and starts to look for more glucose, you get hungry (or even “hangry”). Your body sees this as a stressor and your cortisol levels go up. This doesn’t happen while fasting on a ketogenic diet because your body is burning fat and not worried about finding sugar.
Following a ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting can offer enormous health benefits, especially for women.
They balance your hormones.
When one hormone is off-balance, you can bet it’s not the only one. Diet plays a large role in hormone balance and often, excess sugar and carbs are to blame.
One hormone affected is insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and regulates blood sugar. Normally, when glucose enters your bloodstream, your body responds by producing insulin that carries glucose into your cells. But when you keep your blood sugar levels elevated with a high carbohydrate diet, your body responds by producing even more insulin in response to glucose. Over time, your body eventually gets worn out from producing insulin and you become insulin resistant.
With insulin resistance, your body has trouble using glucose for fuel and it gets stored as fat.
An additional problem with insulin resistance is that it can elevate cortisol levels. Cortisol, which is the body’s stress hormone, is a factor in gaining stubborn fat around the midsection. When cortisol levels stay elevated, excess fat goes straight to the abdomen, making you gain weight and develop other health issues.
High cortisol can also put a damper on thyroid function in women and this can also lead to unwanted pounds.
But wait, there’s more.
With insulin spiked, you’re lowering another hormone that causes problems for women. Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), in a normal situation, binds to estrogen and keeps it balanced. When SHBG is low, there isn’t enough to keep up with estrogen and you wind up with too much estrogen in your blood. This can lead to estrogen dominance, which is a common problem among women.
As you can see, your food choices have a direct impact on your hormones. Since these hormone imbalances are caused by excess sugar and carbohydrates, it makes sense that you can reverse them with a Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting.
It will improve your cells and repair DNA, reducing inflammation. Excessive insulin causes inflammation in your body, and inflammation can cause a large number of problems. It can:
- make you fatigued.
- cause weight gain.
- make you feel foggy-headed.
- cause a large number of medical problems (including heart disease).
Research shows that women, in particular, are more susceptible than men to depression from inflammation, and also more likely to develop an autoimmune disease (such as hypothyroid, Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.).
A woman’s hormones fluctuate throughout her lifetime and once she reaches menopause, estrogen levels tend to go down, and this can cause inflammation as well, bringing on a bunch of health issues.
Intermittent fasting along with a ketogenic diet can help to reduce inflammation by eliminating what’s causing it.
You’ll burn that stubborn fat. Everyone knows it becomes harder to burn fat as you age and this is especially true for women. Years of false information has led us to believe that weight-loss is as simple as taking the “calories in, calories out” approach, leading to women eating fewer calories, but still gaining weight. While calories do (somewhat) matter, the body is a little more complex than that, especially as women age and hormones fluctuate.
Carb restriction, however, diminishes glucose in the body and decreases the amount of insulin your body is producing. Your body will start looking for other sources of fuel and begin to burn fat. Yes, that includes that stubborn fat you just can’t seem to get rid of.