What You Need to Know
The ketogenic diet makes weight loss easy – but for women in their menopause, weight might not come off as quickly as other people. Women experience this even when they implement the keto diet correctly and are in stable ketosis.
Menopause is a special challenge because the hormonal changes that occur during menopause make losing weight much more difficult. The ketogenic diet is still among the best options for menopausal women, but they should approach keto differently.
What Happens During Menopause?
Menopause usually starts around the age of 50. It’s the time when women stop having their menstrual periods and can no longer bear children.
The body goes through a lot of changes during menopause that makes weight loss more challenging. A hysterectomy, the removal of the womb (uterus), can have a similar effect and even cause early menopause (1).
The female hormones estrogen and progesterone decrease, and low estrogen levels are known to promote weight gain (2, 3). Also, testosterone levels go down, which is relevant for weight loss because low testosterone makes it difficult to maintain muscle mass (4).
These hormonal changes also influence other hormones that play a role in weight loss, such as insulin. Overall, menopause demonstrates that hormones are crucial in weight regulation and that it’s hard to lose weight when your hormones work against you.
These 7 tips will help you lose weight on a ketogenic diet, despite the onset of menopause:
1. Combine the Keto Diet with Intermittent Fasting
Fasting may sound scary, but the simplest version of intermittent fasting simply extends the nightly fasting period by skipping breakfast or dinner, for a daily fasting period of around 16 hours. Intermittent fasting is gaining popularity because, similar to the ketogenic diet, it facilitates weight loss.
Intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet have similar effects on hormones and weight loss, indeed. Because they work synergistically, combining them may be more effective for weight loss than the ketogenic diet alone. The combination is especially recommended when weight does not come off easily, which menopausal women often experience.
Learn here in more detail why you should combine the keto diet with intermittent fasting.
2. Eat a Healthy Amount of Protein
Protein is an essential micronutrient, and many women over 50 don’t get enough of it. Because protein is important to maintain muscle mass, an adequate protein supply helps maintain a good body composition (fat/muscle ratio).
Experts recommend a daily protein intake of 1.2 – 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight.
3. Lift Weights
Many people think that the main reason why exercise is good for health is that it helps to burn calories. There are, however, many more reasons why exercise is healthy and facilitates weight loss.
Active muscles easily take up glucose from the blood, which helps to regulate blood sugar. Moreover, muscles also need energy when they are not active, so having a healthy amount of muscle mass helps to maintain the basal metabolic rate, which typically slows down during menopause.
While cardio training also offers health benefits, weight lifting is much more effective when it comes to building muscles (5).
Together with the right amount of protein, weight training is an efficient tool to prevent a loss of muscles in menopausal women. While lifting weight seems daunting for many women, it does not have to be excessive. The weight has to be adapted to one’s individual strengths and capabilities.
4. Don’t Eat Too Much Fat
Keto is known to be a high-fat diet. But the ketogenic diet doesn’t necessarily provide vast amounts of fat. Since fat has a lot of calories, overdoing it can easily sabotage your weight loss success. Overeating fat is a common cause of a weight loss plateau on a keto diet, and the risk is especially high for women over 50.
5. Watch Your Carb Intake
A ketogenic diet is very low in carbs and puts the body into the metabolic state of ketosis. The carb limit to achieve and maintain ketosis is individual – some people can tolerate some more carbs, while others have to keep a close eye on their carb intake. The hormonal changes during menopause make it more difficult to achieve ketosis, which means that for menopausal women, it is especially important to stay within their carb limit.
Carefully read the ingredients lists of your food to avoid hidden carbs. Many foods that you probably think of being keto-friendly contain substantial amounts of carbs.
6. Avoid Sweeteners
Many keto-friendly sweeteners, such as erythritol, stevia, and monk fruit, don’t affect blood sugar and insulin levels. While these are better options than aspartame and sucralose, they are not entirely harmless. Sweeteners can indirectly interfere with blood sugar regulation, which is probably why they can aggravate cravings (6).
Menopausal women who struggle to lose weight on a keto diet should limit sweeteners.
7. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
There are several keto-friendly alcohol options. An occasional glass of dry wine hardly affects ketosis and is unlikely to hinder weight loss. But since alcohol is processed in the liver, regular alcohol consumption can interfere with glucose and lipid metabolism and impact weight loss success (1, 2).
Menopausal women should limit their alcohol intake as much as possible, especially when they have difficulties losing weight.
The Bottom Line
Menopause makes weight loss more challenging, but it’s not impossible. A keto diet is a good option for menopausal women because it regulates hormones that otherwise cause weight gain. For women at that age, adaptations to the ketogenic diet can help promote weight loss. The meal plans in the Ultralite Program consider the unique challenges of menopausal women.