Whatever euphemism you use for it, women inevitably have to deal with menstruation and all the strangeness that goes along with it. One of the commonly asked about topics in the keto community is shark week. AKA a visit from Aunt Flo.
Keto diet and your period
Some things don’t change: Your period is still your period.
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Keto is amazing, but it is not magic. and it isn’t the cause of everything that will happen to you after you start eating this way. For the most part, your period is going to be your normal period while you’re keto.
You might have cravings (or not), you might cramp (or not), you might be light or heavy (or both), or early or late (or gone all together).
Many women find that their cycles normalize while doing the keto diet. This is especially so in women with PCOS. If you have always been regular, your cycles might go off track for a few cycles as your body settles in.
Your first 6 months on Keto
Some women will initially experience some crazy stuff when it comes to their period after they go keto.
Your period might be lighter or heavier, it may be oddly spaced or more/less frequent than normal.
Yes, it’s hormones. Of course. This time, however, it’s not just attributable to the normal fluctuations around menstruation. Estrogen, the main culprit for many shark week woes, is actually both stored and produced by your body fat.
The more fat you have on your body, the more estrogen is being produced which, in turn, encourages the body to store more fat, which produce more estrogen, and around and around we go! Also all those fat cells then store excess estrogen and other sex hormones.
So once you start burning body fat you will simultaneously decrease the body’s estrogen production and release the stored sex hormones back into the blood stream. Hence, all kinds of hormone weirdness can occur and it might take a little while before balance is achieved.
This is also why some people experience some initial moodiness along with elevated or decreased libido when they change to keto. Your first couple of cycles on the keto diet may be MUCH heavier than previously, or they might be super light and short.
However, you should know it is completely normal and once your body compensates for it things will return to normal.
Bloating is still a thing
I don’t think there is anything, even the wonderful keto, that can cure bloating. It’s just a part of the hormonal process and is due to massive surges in estrogen during the pre-menstral part of your cycle.
Estrogen causes quite a bit of extra water to be retained, so if you tend to bloat or experience puffiness and inflammation during menstruation this just is what it is and keto isn’t going to avoid it.
Yes, you will probably still gain weight right before and during menstruation, but it will all be peed away after she leaves again.
So stay off the scale this week.
Don’t start any thing new right before or during your period
If you’re thinking about giving up dairy or sweeteners, etc., just do yourself a favor and wait until the period is done, ok?
Your blood sugar may go crazy
our wonderful hormones also can cause unusual highs and lows for blood glucose readings during menstruation. Is a thing.
Are you sensing the pattern yet?
Yes, those crazy period hormones can actually cause your insulin sensitivity to go a little out of whack during shark week, so if you’ve noticed a surge or drop in blood glucose during that time you should know it’s not uncommon in general, is natural, and it should subside as soon as your hormones drop back off to normal levels.
If you’re hungry, eat
Hormone hunger is real hunger. Right after ovulation the body ramps up production of estrogen and progesterone, both of which can cause your body to feel hunger. This is to load up your body with plenty of fuel in case you get pregnant.
The bottom line
As we all should know, our menstrual time is a stretch of a few days where hormones are screwy.
We might be tired, we might be cranky, and we will probably be hungry. All of that is perfectly normal and you are not expected to sit and starve on top of it all.
If it’s your time and you’re hungry then eat!
Now that’s not permission to cheat, nor should you gorge yourself on “friendly” treats, but if you need something to get you through, do it! Some ladies crave protein during that time, so don’t worry too much about a few extra slices of bacon. Just eat to hunger and you will be fine.
Yes, if you’re menopausal or pre-menopausal, you might still have some of these problems
Because of the hormonal irregularities, you might experience some bloating, cramping, hormone hunger, even up to and including spotting or a full-on period after going keto.
Due to the hormonal fluctuations that can occur when you burn off body fat, you might have some symptoms you thought you were over and done with. And that’s ok. As with all the issues above, once the body figures out how to compensate, homeostasis will return and things will go back to normal.
As always, if you’re very concerned about your irregular menstruation or are experiencing serious pain, clotting, etc, you should go see your doctor in order to rule out any major problems or illnesses.