Keto for Women vs Men | What You Should Know

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Keto for Women vs Men | What You Should Know – Thomas DeLauer

Keto & Hormones – Study

Meta analyses and reviews have found that keto improves hormonal imbalances so you can start ovulating regularly, but may also boost your chances of becoming pregnant compared to the usual carb-heavy diet

In a prospective study of 18,555 women, published in the t researchers found that the quality of carbs in the diet impacted the risk of ovulatory infertility with a 78% greater risk for women with higher carbohydrate consumption

Study – Nutrition & Metabolism

11 overweight women with a clinical diagnosis of PCOS were recruited for the study – they were instructed to limit their carb intake to 20 grams or less per day for 6 months

In the 5 women who completed the study, there were significant reductions from baseline to 24 weeks in body weight (-12%), percent free testosterone (-22%), LH/FSH ratio (-36%), and fasting insulin (-54%)

*2 women actually became pregnant during the study despite previous infertility problems*

The study showed that a keto diet may lead to a reversal of these processes as the reduction in hyperinsulinemia due to keto would decrease stimulation of ovarian androgen production as well as increase SHBG levels, synergistically limiting the amounts of circulating free-androgens in the serum

In addition, the reduction in LH/FSH ratio may be a sign of endocrine re-normalization resulting from the keto intervention – due to an improvement in insulin sensitivity

How this Applies to PCOS & Menopause


Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of insulin and elevated levels of insulin cause the ovaries to produce more androgens
Insulin also decreases the production of SHBG

Two other hormones involved are Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – these hormones regulate estrogen, progesterone and testosterone

FSH stimulates the production of estrogen and causes the release of eggs from a woman’s ovaries during her reproductive years – a surge in LH causes the ovaries to release an egg during ovulation

Progesterone is produced by the follicles that house the egg – as a woman ages and enters perimenopause, her ovaries contain fewer eggs and produce less estrogen and progesterone and her FSH levels increase

Changes in these hormone levels in turn affect other hormones such as insulin and ghrelin

Keto & Thyroid

Study – Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental (Volek)

Looked at the effects of a 6-week keto diet on total and regional body composition and the relationships with fasting hormone concentrations

12 healthy normal-weight men switched from their habitual diet (48% carbs) to a carbohydrate-restricted diet (8% carbs, 61% fat, 30% protein, with 25% calories coming from SFA, 25% from MUFA, and 11% from PUFA)

8 men served as controls, consuming their normal diet

Fat mass was significantly decreased (-3.4 kg) and lean body mass significantly increased (+1.1 kg) at week 6. There was a significant decrease in serum insulin (-34%), and an increase in total thyroxine (T(4)) (+11%) and the free T(4) index (+13%) – T3 was not directly measured, but there was no significant change

The high-fat group had normal T4 and lost significant body fat, which is very hard to do if you’re hypothyroid

Low T3 levels are actually associated with a longer lifespan in research, and a predisposition to low thyroid hormone levels appear to be inherited in long-lived families

A study published in JAMA looked at the association of thyroid function and life expectancy – the mean age of the 7785 participants was 64.7 (9.8) years

They found that in the at the age of 50 years, participants with low-normal thyroid function live up to 3.5 years longer overall and up to 3.1 years longer without cardiovascular disease (CVD) than participants with high-normal thyroid function

Note: Keto & Pregnancy

Pregnancy necessitates a switch to carbs for the sake of the growing fetus because glucose literally fuels the development of fetal organs and body systems

But ketosis happens naturally quite often in women who are pregnant, especially in the late stage pregnancies – the fetus uses ketones before and immediately after birth to make essential fats in the brain during growth

Hypothesized that fetuses might even make their own ketones, but carbs are also required to produce enough caloric value for milk to be made (more a concern if the mother isn’t consuming enough calories, as the first area to suffer will be her milk supply)

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