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Verification of the facts by Dr. Anthony Gustin, DC, MS.
Written by Joanna Cailas
September 4, 2018
Does a ketogenic diet have an effect on female hormones? Yes, you can rely on your nutrition to change your hormones. Does the keto diet destroy or destroy your hormones? No.
In fact, ketosis can offer real benefits for women, especially those with PCOS, endometriosis and uterine fibroids (*).
In this article, we will discuss the impact of the ketogenic diet on your thyroid and the HPA axis, then we will look at ways to evaluate your hormones, determine how you feel, and change your diet and lifestyle. life.
The ketogenic diet and your thyroid
Is ketosis bad for your thyroid? No, let's break it down:
- It is true that low carbohydrate diets (like the ketogenic diet) and caloric restriction lower the T3, thyroid marker hormone (*) (*).
- T3 encourages your cells to use more energy. Because of its function, scientists have speculated that "a reduction in the hormone T3 could extend the life span by preserving energy and reducing the production of free radicals (*)".
- With T4, these hormones regulate your metabolism, your heart rate and your body temperature. Most T3 bind to protein molecules and some of the free T3 circulates in your blood.
But a lowered T3 does not mean that you have thyroid dysfunction or hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is often a case of high levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and low levels of free T4. The pituitary gland tries to make the thyroid gland produce T4: high TSH level. But the thyroid does not respond: low levels of T4.
When T3 is reduced, the thyroid is called "euthyroid". A normal thyroid. To learn more about the effects of a low carb diet on T3, T4 and TSH levels, read Dr. Anthony's article on ketosis and female hormones.
Ketosis, HPA axis and cortisol
The HPA axis is the triumvirate of hormonal production: the hypothalamus secretes hormones and communicates with the pituitary gland and adrenal glands to enable them to produce these hormones.
- No, ketosis does not spoil your HPA axis. The opposite is true: the truly ketogenic diet may be beneficial for the HPA axis; it helps with better hypothalamic stimulation (*).
- There is no evidence that a ketogenic diet affects the HPA path in any way. And some data (in mice) show that ketone signaling uses a different – and probably more effective – (*) pathway.
- Hypothalamic neuropeptides, the superior mechanisms of hypothalamic stimulation, are clearly extremely high in a ketogenic diet. Studies show that ketones cross the blood-brain barrier and act as signaling molecules on hypothalamic neuropeptides (*).
The ketogenic diet and cortisol:
Cortisol is the notorious stress hormone but it starts innocently. When you're stressed, cortisol gets into protein stores and produces glucose that your body uses to escape or fight stress. Good thing, no?
- But still high levels of cortisol involve consistently high levels of stress, and your body and brain start to get tired.
- All this excess glucose means high blood sugar, which causes all kinds of problems.
Because the ketogenic diet leaves the HPA axis unchanged or potentially improved, cortisol – produced in the adrenal gland – is fine. In fact, cortisol levels are low for patients with ketosis or totally unaffected (*) (*).
If you feel particularly bad, here are some things to consider:
Are you overtraining?
Think about your priorities. Is it a performance with your HIIT more than 3 times a week? Or achieve ketosis?
If you choose both, you train excessively. This can lead to increased levels of cortisol (your body is stressed by what you are experiencing) and other hormonal problems. Overtraining is the root cause, not ketosis (*). A ketogenic diet may not be suitable for rigorous training goals.
Here are some symptoms of cortisol elevation and other hormonal problems caused by overtraining (*) (*):
Are you in ketosis?
You are in ketosis when AND ONLY WHEN you fulfill this condition: your body is breaking down fat into ketones as a source of energy. How do you know that? By testing your ketone levels. Gauges and breathalyzers are not accurate because ketones are in the blood.
You use a blood meter like the one used to measure blood glucose. Prick your finger for a drop of blood and set the machine to tell you your level of BHB (beta-hydroxybutyrate). In case of ketosis, your measurement would always be greater than 0.5, without using exogenous ketones.
Eat foods high in fat and low in carbohydrates, but not in keto
Diets high in fats and carbohydrates do not feel good.
If you follow such a diet because you start the keto, you may feel bad before becoming ketosis. This is what is called keto flu. Your body changes gears and protests a little. Do things correctly and you may avoid keto flu.
There is no comparison between ketosis and a diet that is "low in carbohydrates / high in fat but not in ketogenic" (*).
The ketogenic diet regulates energy in a completely different way and crosses the blood-brain barrier, which means that your brain is nourished. Nourishing your brain means improving mental acuity and physical energy (*). You feel good, as if you could do it all!
Do you eat enough?
Stay long enough and you will read / hear stories about how living with ketosis helps a lot with intermittent fasting (SI). People are no longer hungry and do not want to eat as before and have no trouble following their fasting program (*).
But make no mistake, clients who take medication for their well-being have the tedious task of measuring their calories and eating enough when they eat. Because caloric restriction only makes you feel bad, and there is evidence that hormones have harmful effects, especially in women (*) (*). In this case, it is not ketosis that makes you feel bad. You do not get enough food to support your body.
Measure your ketones, measure your food consumption and make sure it fits the needs of your day.
Are your hormones out of order?
If your periods have always been bad or if you have chronic pain, you can not explain (backache, severe headaches), you may have hormonal imbalance, who needs correction and consultation with your doctor before doing anything radical like undertaking the ketogenic diet. If you are already in ketosis, CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN if you fear radical changes such as amenorrhea (absence of periods), coagulation, pain, etc.
Keto and your rules: what to expect (and not wait)
- You can get your period back after experiencing irregular flow for most of your life.
- If you are under birth control and have stopped or removed the device, or natural amenorrhea (for athletes and nursing mothers), your periods may come back with an abundant flow.
- Bleeding can be more abundant than usual and last longer than before. Once your body will have adjusted and compensated for any changes in estrogen levels and in the storage and use of body fat, everything would return to normal or better than before.
- Ketosis does not cure bloating. While most other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome will lessen or heal (back pain, cramps, etc.), bloating persists. This is because of the massive influx of estrogen into this part of your cycle.
- Hormones affect your sensitivity to insulin. It is normal for blood sugar to go up or down. After your period, the situation should return to normal.
- If you're hungry, eat. After ovulation, your body prepares to pump estrogen and progesterone, which can cause hunger. Go for chocolate keto, keto cup cakes, big bombs, or bring home bacon or steak.
Are you stressed?
Stress can lead to hormonal problems, especially in women, and stress management can help solve these problems (*) (*).
Instead of a rigorous workout, aim for light movements, like yoga, and try to meditate, walk and note to take charge of your level of anxiety and stress. When your stress is sufficiently persistent, you need a medical intervention.
Keep in mind: Keto does not harm your hormones
Hormonal imbalance has other root causes:
- Pre-existing hormonal imbalance (not caused by keto)
- Hypo or hyperthyroidism (also caused by the keto)
- Do not eat enough (you are starving)
These other causes should be excluded – and treated – before you and your doctor can conclude / diagnose a bad experience with ketosis –if you have really suffered from ketosis.
Measure your ketones and make sure your caloric intake matches the physical demands you are under. Go after in good health fitness goals and reduce your stress level.
Wondering how the keto affected other women with regard to their menses or their oldest years, during / after menopause? Check the discussions in the Perfect Keto community. For more information on Ketosis and Pregnancy, click here.