Keto Diet Meal Plan for Women

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Written by Bridget Nalwoga, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Unlike some of the other popular diets, the ketogenic diet is well studied and researched. The problem is most studies have been done on men and laboratory rats, more specifically male rats. 

For this reason, the effects of a keto diet plan for women are not fully understood. While male and female bodies are very similar, they can respond differently to different conditions, including food. 

If you are a woman starting on a low-carb eating plan, enjoy this ketogenic-friendly guide for women including the benefits, drawbacks, and tips to succeed on the diet. In addition to all this, you also get a free keto meal plan for women.

 

What is the keto diet plan for women?

The keto diet plan for women is still a low-carb high-fat eating plan just like a typical ketogenic diet. However, female and male bodies have different physiologies and this can cause their particular needs to differ.

Is keto safe for women?

Yes, it is safe, even beneficial for women. Many have seen great results after following the diet. 

In general, keto macros for women should not differ from those of men. However, there are some whose bodies may require them to alter their diets in specific ways.  

Some of the reasons the keto eating plan for women may have to differ include:

  • Menopause. Keto for women over 40 must take into consideration the changes in hormonal balance caused by menopause. 
  • Pre-Menstrual Stress. Bodies change both physically and mentally during a menstrual period and this can greatly affect food choices.
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a condition that affects the ovaries, causing very unpleasant signs and symptoms like hormonal imbalances and pain. 
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding. A pregnant or breastfeeding woman has very specific needs because she has to support more than one life. Her diet has to supply enough nutrients to support both the mother and the baby.

 

Ketogenic health benefits for women

  • Weight loss. By limiting carbs and keeping insulin levels down, the ketogenic diet can promote weight loss. Studies have shown that if maintained, it can result in significant and possibly long-term fat loss. 
  • Blood sugar control. For those that have high blood sugar levels, low-carb diets can help them reverse them to normal. The ketogenic diet has been shown to assist in controlling type 2 diabetes in some people. 
  • Heart health. If one eats mostly whole foods, they will experience an improvement in cardiovascular health. This can mean improved cholesterol control, better blood pressure control, or healthier blood vessels.
  • Fertility. Low-carb diets have been shown to improve fertility in some, it may be due to weight loss and reduced insulin levels or possibly an increase in estrogen. Research is ongoing on this one!

 

Side effects in women on the keto diet

While most women can thrive on low-carb diets with little to no difficulty, they may not be as easy for others. Some of the keto diet problems for women include: 

  • Keto flu. A woman may experience some unpleasant signs and symptoms after starting the diet like headaches, nausea, and fatigue. This is however not specific to any gender.
  • Muscle loss. If a woman does not consume enough protein, she may experience loss in muscle mass.
  • High cholesterol. Depending on the type of fat sources one chooses, a high-fat diet may affect their cholesterol levels negatively. To avoid this, stick with wholesome sources of fat like avocado, olive oil, and nuts.
  • Constipation. Low-carb diets cut out some of the best sources of fiber like legumes and whole grains. If one doesn’t compensate with enough low-carb vegetables, nuts and seeds, they may have trouble with bowel movements. 
  • Amenorrhea. In a few women, a ketogenic diet may cause hormonal changes resulting in a change in their menstrual cycle. Some may experience a small change in their cycles, while others may lose them completely. This can be avoided by eating enough calories and focusing on whole foods. If you notice a change in your menstrual cycle, chat to your doctor to investigate what the problem is.
  • The diet is not suitable for everyone. Some women, for example pregnant mothers, breastfeeding mothers, type 1 diabetics, and those with fat metabolism disorders, are not well suited for low-carb high-fat diets, especially without the guidance of a doctor.
  • Nutrient deficiencies. It is not uncommon for some people to get some nutrient deficiencies after starting a ketogenic eating plan. However, this can be prevented and remedied by eating a well-balanced diet. If you are not getting enough nutrients from food, you can consult your doctor on the use of supplements. Some of the most helpful supplements for women on keto include MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil, vitamin D, and electrolytes (sodium, potassium and magnesium).

 

Starting keto for women

Even though the diet can be tricky, there are some steps you can take to increase your odds of success. 

Below are some tips for women starting keto.

  • Keep a food diary. Journaling what you eat can help you get a more accurate picture of what goes into your body. If you find that you have been on a high-sugar diet, it may not be best to quit carbs cold turkey.
  • Cut your carbs slowly. Instead of going low-carb at once, you can start by cutting out added sugars, then all sugars, and eventually all high-carb foods. This can reduce the severity of keto flu and make the transition more bearable for you.
  • Add resistance training to your exercise routine. Resistance training can help you maintain (or even build) your muscle mass. This is not only important for good health, but will also make you look leaner and more toned.
  • Stick to whole foods. Ketogenic eating is not just about being low-carb and high-fat, it is also about nourishing your body with the best quality food possible. If your diet is mostly made of processed foods, it will not bring you the results you are hoping for, quite the opposite, in fact.

 

GET A CUSTOM KETO PLAN

 

Foods to eat on a ketogenic plan for women

High-carb foods have no place on ketogenic diets. They should therefore be the first to be eliminated when starting. High-carb foods to avoid include:

  • Soda
  • Fruit juice
  • High-sugar fruits
  • Baked foods like cake and cookies
  • High-carb dairy products like ice cream
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes 
  • Legumes like beans and lentils

In place of these foods, low-carb high-fat foods should be eaten. Keto diet foods for women include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Plain yogurt
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Cruciferous veggies like cabbage

 

Keto-friendly grocery list for women

After you have understood what types of food you can have, you can choose what specific foods to buy at the grocery store. 

  • Meat: beef, chicken 
  • Fish: salmon, shrimp, tuna, and sardines
  • Low-carb vegetables: spinach, kale, beet greens, broccoli, and cabbage
  • Low-carb dairy products: hard cheeses like cheddar
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Condiments and spices: mayonnaise, low-carb ketchup, and mustard

 

One-day sample of keto meals for a woman

Keto meals for women should not be that much more difficult to prepare if you follow all the guidelines. 

Here is a female low-carb diet plan example for a day to show you that the keto lifestyle for women is achievable. 

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, spinach, and avocado
  • Morning snack: Almonds
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken and kale
  • Dessert: Watermelon
  • Dinner: Steak and cauliflower rice

Calories: 1,754 | Macros: 20 g net carbs, 145 g protein, and 111.9 g fat.

BREAKFAST Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Scrambled eggs Egg 3 216 0 18.7 15
Spinach Spinach 1 cup (30 g) 7 0.2 0.9 0.2
  Olive oil 1 tablespoon 115 0 0 12.8
Avocado Avocado Half a medium fruit 113 1.3 1.3 10.5
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
451 1.5 g 20.9 g 38.5 g            
MORNING SNACK Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Almonds Whole almonds 1/2 cup 414 6.5 15 35.7
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
414 6.5 g 15 g 35.7 g            
LUNCH Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Grilled chicken Chicken 1 breast (174 g) 275 0 55.9 5.6
Sauteed kale Kale 2 cups raw 17 0.2 1.2 0.6
  Olive oil 1 tablespoon 115 0 0 12.8
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
407 0.2 g 57.1 g 17 g            
DESSERT Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Watermelon Watermelon 100 g 30 7.2 0.6 0.2
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
30 7.2 g 0.6 g 0.2 g            
DINNER Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Beef steak Beef 1/2 a steak (180 g) 382 0 49.2 20.5
Cauliflower rice Cauliflower 200 g 70 4.6 2.4 0
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
452 4.6 g 51.6 g 20.5 g            
DAILY TOTALS   1,754 cal 20 g net carbs 145 g protein 111.9 g fat

 

PERSONALIZE YOUR MEAL PLAN

 

Q&A about a keto plan for a woman

There are a number of hormones circulating inside of you at any given moment. Some regulate your hunger and weight and others your monthly menstrual cycle. What you eat can affect these hormones and this includes a high fat diet.

If you experience symptoms of hormonal changes, consult your doctor immediately.

Women generally have a lower body mass and muscle mass compared to men. A lower muscle mass means a lower resting metabolic rate resulting in fewer calories being needed on a daily basis. So while you and your partner may be eating the same types of foods, your portions may be smaller. 

Women may also be prone to certain nutrient deficiencies (like iron deficiency due to heavy menstrual flow) and in these cases targeted dietary changes or specialized supplements may be needed.

The amount of weight one loses with a ketogenic diet depends on the individual. A woman can lose between up to 10 pounds in a month.

Even if your main motivation is weight loss, it is important to not focus on your weight alone but rather on your entire well-being.

No, a woman in menopause can follow a ketogenic diet. During menopause a woman’s estrogen levels decline resulting in some unpleasant symptoms and increased risk for certain health problems. A high fat diet can increase estrogen levels and help relieve some of these symptoms.

Some women may experience symptoms like headaches, muscle loss, and others. In such cases, see a doctor or registered dietitian to make the necessary adjustments to your diet.

If a woman has been following a ketogenic diet before pregnancy, she may continue with it during pregnancy with permission from her doctor.

However, if one has not been on a low-carb diet, it is not advisable to start it during pregnancy.

Being on a low carb diet can make you thirstier than usual. The chances of dehydration can be high, especially if one does not drink enough water. It is therefore encouraged to drink at least 2 liters of water per day. More is not better, drinking too much plain water can cause overhydration and worsen electrolyte imbalances. To replace any lost electrolytes, eat a variety of foods (including those high in potassium and magnesium) and sprinkle up to one teaspoon of salt per day on your food. If you are still not getting enough, consider an electrolyte supplement (but remember to check the nutrition label for the carb content).

 

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