Are you experiencing weight gain, insomnia, irregular periods, and unpredictable mood swings in your late 40s or early 50s? Well, you probably have hit menopause.
Women at this age are typically more concerned about their weight than in their 20s or 30s as they endure frustrating changes due to aging. This is the primary reason several women at this age attempt to follow a particular diet, like ketogenic (also known as the keto diet).
However, unfortunately, keto for women over 50 does not have the same results as for men of the same age, thanks to the chaotic hormonal changes that come along with menopause. Thereby, women following the keto diet often end up facing issues like fatigue and exhaustion.
That said, keto also has some health benefits for this specific age group as well. Let’s figure out if keto for women over 50 is effective and safe or not.
What is a Keto diet?
Before we learn how keto affects women over 50, we must first understand what the keto diet is.
Ketogenic is a diet in which the person requires to cut down carbs and increase their fat intake to fasten the body’s metabolism rate and quickly burn the stored fats.
Different studies have proven that the keto diet has outstanding results and is beneficial for the body’s overall health. Notably, it helped certain people reduce unwanted body fat with little to no intense cravings that are typically there during other weight loss diets.
Apart from losing weight, the keto diet can be used for people with Type 2 Diabetes as it helps reduce its symptoms.
After reading the benefits of the keto diet, it’s making us curious whether it has the same benefits and is doable for women over 50.
Health problems for women over 50
Most women over 50 experience a series of hormonal changes due to the stoppage of the menstrual cycle, the process is commonly called menopause. Why are we learning about menopause and health issues of women over 50, you must be wondering, right? It’s because these hormonal changes have a lot to do with reducing weight at this age. Let us explain to you in detail.
When women approach the 40s, they enter the pre-menopause stage in which they experience symptoms like insomnia, hot flashes, low libido, night sweats, weight gain, and irregular periods, of course.
After 12 months in that stage, women finally enter menopause which on average happens at 50 or 51.
As women enter this phase, they also experience a change in fat distribution in their bodies. For instance, the fat that is predominantly used to store in thighs and buts during their 20s and 30s will now be stored in the abdomen. According to researchers, this shift is typically driven by falling estrogen hormone levels (sex hormone in females).
However, that doesn’t end here. Women who have entered menopause are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis (bone diseases) and cardiovascular conditions.
Additionally, women over 50 must deal with the changes that come with natural aging. As a result of which, they may experience:
- Accelerated muscle loss
- Chronic inflammation
- Reduced athletic performance
- Higher chances of developing chronic diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular
- Trouble controlling blood sugar levels
- Trouble getting deep, restorative sleep
- Major mood swings
Let’s be clear, the keto diet won’t help with the aging process. However, it may help reduce stubborn and irregularly distributed fat in your body.
Keto for women over 50
Keto is a popular weight loss diet or a type of eating habit that helps shed kilos instantly, you can say. It has shown jaw-dropping results in women over 50 as well as obese. Let’s now dig into how keto may help women over 50.
Firstly, keto works on your hunger hormones and suppresses them. Reduced hunger means lesser calorie intake and more weight loss. Here’s the fun fact, women hitting their 50s have increased ghrelin levels – a hunger hormone that is elevated near or during menopause. That means keto can help reduce hunger hormones and weight, eventually.
Secondly, keto affects your body’s metabolism, regardless of your gender and age. Since the keto diet is accompanied by low-carb intake, your insulin and blood sugar levels stay in control. Hence, you burn fat quickly.
Other benefits of keto for women over 50
Apart from the amazing benefits of keto, other potential health benefits may come along with keto for women over 50. For instance:
Women on keto may minimize chronic inflammation by regulating blood sugar levels and subduing inflammatory signaling molecules.
- The ketogenic diet has been proven effective in treating certain types of cancers as well as Alzheimer’s.
- The keto diet has been a promising therapy for diabetic and obese.
- Keto stabilizes your energy levels as you run on body fat.
How does the ketogenic diet work?
Since keto is a low-carb diet and makes you mainly binge on fat, you may assume to have low energy levels. However, that’s not the case here.
When you start the keto diet, your body develops fuel molecules called, ketones, as a source of alternative energy to run your body.
That said, to produce ketones, you must cut down carbs, and have the right amount of protein in your regular meals. When you have keto-friendly meals, your liver gets activated and converts body fat into ketones which deliver constant energy to your body.
When such a process starts in your body, know that you’re in ketosis. And once you’re in ketosis, your fats burn dramatically, shedding unwanted pockets of fats.
A ketogenic diet is not only found effective for burning fat, but it also wards off threats of energy crashes and unhealthy cravings throughout the day. So, it’s a win-win situation.
What you can and cannot eat on keto
While it’s quite simple to say that you have to cut down carbs and increase fat and protein intake on keto, it’s always complicated when you are standing on a grocery aisle thinking, about what to buy and what not.
Lucky you, we have made your work easier. Here’s the list of food items you can and cannot have while on keto.
Foods you CAN have on keto
- Unprocessed meat – as it contains no added carb
- Seafood – except for breaded/fried fish to avoid excess carbs
- Eggs – however you like
- Vegies – specifically the ones that grow above the ground
Dairy – always go for high-fat dairy as low-fat ones typically have added sugars
Nuts – they are a great source of fat but must be consumed in less than three handfuls.
Berries – should be taken in a moderate amount
Foods you CANNOT have on keto
- Sugar – the foremost thing to cut
- Fruit – avoid excessive consumption, though.
- Beer/Alcohol – They are a strict NO on keto
- Starches – rice, potato, pasta, white bread, and all forms of starches are a big no.
How to keto-fy your favorite meals
Following a strict keto diet can be challenging especially if you are 50 and above as you may be hit with an influx of mixed emotions and hormonal changes that come along with aging.
Since embracing the restrictions on keto can be challenging, we have come up with the idea to keto-fy your favorite meals.
Fortunately, some minor tweaking in your food items can turn your non-keto-friendly food into a keto-friendly one. All you need to do is go for the carbs with a low glycemic index. For instance:
- Use bread that has 20x lesser carbs than a normal bread
- Make pasta at home from mozzarella cheese and egg.
- Similarly, make cauliflower rice as a substitute for regular rice
- Include oatmeals in your breakfast
See! You can have your favorite pasta, sandwiches, and rice meals on keto. Just adjust them as per our suggested recipes and it will be fine.
How to start the keto diet
While keto effects vary from body to body, we have come up with general guidelines for keto for women over 50. It will surely help them lose weight and maintain their body shape.
1. Begin Gradually
The foremost rule to starting keto is to take it slowly. Not just women, but even men have complained of having severe stomach issues while switching to keto. A sudden change in fat intake can trigger cortisol production, resulting in constant fatigue, low libido, anxiety, lack of sleep, etc.
Your transition period might take a month or two; therefore, it is advised to not focus on the weight; instead, focus more on your feelings and your everyday choices.
2. Add more veggies to your diet
Since you switch to whole foods on keto, you must include veggies in your meals to have a balanced diet. Here the goal is to swap starchy carbs with less starchy veggies. Start with your breakfast. Always try to reserve a big portion of veggies on your plate. For instance, you can have:
Green beans, Brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, etc
3. Eat high-quality protein
When on keto, you must consume enough high-protein to maintain your energy levels. While overconsumption might not be a big problem, avoid underconsumption as it could be dangerous, especially for women. Therefore, add all sorts of protein, including, eggs, pork, cheese, chicken, and even protein shakes and collagen powders.
4. Be watchful of your body
Never ignore your state throughout the day. It’s important to notice the changes that you encounter in your body during the transition process. Be careful while eating, stop when you are full – don’t over or under-eat.
If you experience symptoms that we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, know that you might have to increase your carbs and protein intake to eliminate those symptoms.
If you spot signs of hormonal disbalance, you might need to hop back to phase one of your keto diets.
5. Make keto a lifestyle
While we called it a ‘keto diet’ all this time, it is a lifestyle that you must adapt to if you wish to see drastic results. The main reason why so many fad diets fail is that we treat them as a diet, not a lifestyle. Once we achieve our desired weight, we switch back to our old eating habits.
Following a keto diet doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of all the foods you enjoy. It is something that you can continue for the long term without starving yourself of sweets and pasta.
While we hate to share this, it is a fact that men on keto lose weight faster than women. It is their body type that allows them to achieve that quicker.
Keto has specific benefits for all body types and genders. If something doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean you can’t be on keto forever. Just try and test whatever works for you; ultimately, you will have the notes for your weight loss journal.