The keto diet is wildly popular and can often help with short-term weight loss. Although it has helped some women to lose weight, it remains unclear whether the keto diet is good for women.
Very similar to the Atkins diet, the keto diet treats carbs as the enemy to be avoided at nearly all costs, and that the answer lies in filling up on rich fatty meats, dairy products like cream and cheeses, and eggs.
When it comes to the keto diet and women’s health, it’s definitely something to consider. And here’s why: It may help women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) lose weight, improve hormonal imbalance, and enhance fertility. In addition, it may help women suffering from obesity or diabetes to lose weight, and it may do the same for women who haven’t managed to lose weight using other diets.
So, if the keto diet is so magical, why isn’t it the first port of call for women suffering from overweight, obesity, or PCOS?
First up, people with any of the following conditions or disorders should stay far away from it: women who are pregnant or breastfeeding; people who have liver or kidney failure, type 1 diabetes, pancreatitis, anorexia, or difficulty maintaining a healthy weight; and those suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction.
Not only is it highly restrictive, you also have to follow its rules vigilantly, and there is absolutely zero room for cheating or binging. You might think, “Surely it can’t be that bad?” But eating just one banana can push you over your carb limit for the day. That doesn’t even take into consideration potatoes, grains, cereals, or rice, which are all strictly forbidden.
This diet’s restrictive nature can make it both unhealthy and difficult to stick to. It can be unhealthy because if you are filling up on fatty meats and fish, you are likely to end up with both vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Removing an entire food group from your diet can do that to you.
Many people who follow the keto diet experience huge success in their weight-loss journey at the beginning, but as time goes on, the limited food choices become tiresome, and they often lose their way. (Imagine eating too much broccoli instead of a Big Mac, fries, and a shake!) This results in all of the weight piling back on. That’s a whole lot of calorie counting, starvation, and misery with nothing to show for it. Ouch!
Although it may not take a scientist to understand that piling your plate with unlimited sausages, bacon, cheese, and eggs and snacking on coffee topped up with tons of cream is a bad idea, the truth is much worse. Dr. Shivam Joshi, a nephrologist at the University of Pennsylvania explains that as with other low-carb diets (and the keto diet is supremely low-carb), doing the keto diet is linked to an increased risk of death. The Lancet published a recent study to this effect, explaining that low-carb diets, especially those depending solely on animal-based foods, were associated with a higher mortality. Scary stuff indeed. Dr Joshi also says that the keto diet negatively affects levels of both good and bad cholesterol, which puts one at risk of dying from heart disease.
Not only that, it can lead to long-term health complications such as constipation, nutritional deficiencies, loss of salts, leg cramps, hormone disruption, and heart ailments.
As with all other diets, if one simply has to try the keto diet, consult with either your doctor or a registered dietician to see if this really is the best option on your weight loss journey.
Written by Gila Isaacson